The Great Race (1965)

Approved  |   |  Action, Adventure, Comedy  |  1 July 1965 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 11,761 users  
Reviews: 147 user | 33 critic

When a popular daredevil proposes an automobile race across three continents, his arch rival vows to beat him, while an ambitious female reporter has her own plans for victory.



(screenplay) (as Arthur Ross) , (original story), 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 14 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Professor Fate / Crown Prince Frederick Hoepnick
Maximilian Meen
William Bryant ...
Baron's Guard


Professional daredevil and white-suited hero, The Great Leslie, convinces turn-of-the-century auto makers that a race from New York to Paris (westward across America, the Bering Straight and Russia) will help to promote automobile sales. Leslie's arch-rival, the mustached and black-attired Professor Fate vows to beat Leslie to the finish line in a car of Fate's own invention. The Blake Edwards style of slapstick and song originated with this movie. A dedication to Laurel and Hardy appears at the beginning of the film. Edwards' tribute to Stan and Ollie can be seen most clearly in the interaction between Professor Fate and his cohort Max, as well as in the operatic Pottsdorf pie fight. Written by Jeanne Baker <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The movie with 20,000-mile or one-million-laughs guarantee! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

1 July 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Blake Edwards' The Great Race  »

Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (DVD edition)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)| (70 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This film was the inspiration for the Saturday morning cartoon show Wacky Races (1968). Natalie Wood (playing Maggie DuBois) became Penelope Pitstop (even wearing the same pink racing outfit). Dick Dastardly was based on Jack Lemmon's character Professor Fate and Dastardly's sidekick Muttley was loosely based on Peter Falk's character Max Meen. See more »


In the final sprint to Paris, Maggie DuBois's costume changes. Since her costume changes at a phenomenal rate throughout the film, this was probably intentional. See more »


Cowboy: He's lucky Texas Jack ain't around... he'd gun that dude for sure!
Professor Fate: Pardon me, Mr. Pahd-nuh, who is this Texas Jack?
Professor Fate: Who?
Cowboy: The roughest, toughest gunslinger in these parts... Lilly's his girl!
Professor Fate: Whoo, hoo, hoo... Lilly's his girl.
Max: Terrific...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The closing credits are three simulated 'magic lantern' slides. The first one reads "Our Cast of Characters", and the following two list the main cast. However, Jack Lemmon is only credited as Professor Fate and not for his second role as Crown Prince Hapnik. See more »


Referenced in Taxi: The Great Race (1979) See more »


The Desert Song
Music by Sigmund Romberg
Lyrics by Otto A. Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein II
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

One of the most underrated movies of all time.
19 January 2004 | by (Minnesota) – See all my reviews

I cannot believe that "The Great Race" did not make it on AFI's 100 Funniest Movies list (well, actually I CAN believe it, since those lists seem very messed up to me). In fact, it has not gotten nearly as much recognition as it deserves.

It is simply one of the funniest movies I have ever seen! The whole cast shines (especially Lemmon, who should have won an Oscar for Best Scene Stealer). Besides the great slapstick, there are a million subtle details that you don't notice unless you are really paying attention. This is why the movie is still great after several viewings: each time you watch it, you are bound to catch some little joke you didn't see before.

Everything about this movie cracks me up. The contrast in character between Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon is just great, the chemistry between the different characters is great, the movie parodies are great, the sets are great, the slapstick is great, and the dialogue is great. Even the MUSIC is funny... every time that goofy theme music for Professor Fate starts playing, I start laughing.

If you haven't seen this, I highly suggest you rent it. Yes, it is long, but it is one of the few comedies I have seen that keeps up the laughs consistently... it never sags or has dull moments. It is downright hilarious from start to finish.

And to top it all off, it has some very cool cars.

45 of 60 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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The Great Race vs Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines elsa-reinsch
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Lemmon steals the film plus some great actors in smaller roles rgdmalaysia
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Natalie Wood in this film.... thewizardofoz1939
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