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 <email@example.com>
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 »
In the classic opening credit sequence just before where we are transported back to the days of the "Magic lamp" slide projection shows, we are given a hint of what is to come when a tribute salute " For Mr Laurel & Mr Hardy " appears on the screen. Yes this movie does owe something to the slapstick routines of those two gentlemen yet it has a life of it's own which in many ways far surpasses slapstick. For those people who can only see the sight gags then this movie will only provide mild appeal. Look deeper and appreciate the marvellous comedic talents of Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Peter Falk, Keenan Wynn and Natalie Wood.
Comedy is always a thing of personal taste. I suspect that there will be those who will rave about how wonderful The Great Race is while others will call it a waste of time and money. There will be few in the middle ground. I fall into the rave category. To me this movie is sheer FUN.
The visuals are splendid and awesomly huge. The costumes fabulous and the location settings vast. Everything is over the top, yet there is still room for small subtleties and in-jokes. The actors have a ball. Jack Lemmon just sneaks in as the best scene stealer but the able cast hold their own too. The Great Race just cries out for a restoration job and a release on DVD - please !
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