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. Written by
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This film was the inspiration for the Saturday morning cartoon show Wacky Races (1968): Dick Dastardly and his sidekick Muttley were based on Professor Fate and Max, Penelope Pitstop was based on Maggie DuBois and Peter Perfect was based on Leslie. See more »
When the Leslie Special car is being pushed out of the garage its on red carpet immediately in front of the garage. When viewed from above the red carpet is now just surrounding the car. There's no red carpet in front of the garage's opening. See more »
The Warner Bros logo, opening credits, intermission and closing credits all appear in the form of a magic lantern slideshow (an early form of cinema), with each credit having a custom slide. See more »
Although "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" was the first comedy to get the epic film treatment, "The Great Race" is in my opinion the best epic comedy. It's just a much funnier film with so many laughs in its first half that the more serious part dealing with the palace intrigues and the straight sword fight acts more as a breather for the viewer before it revs up again with the funniest pie fight of all time and the smashing (literally) finale. Jack Lemmon shows why he was probably the most versatile comic actor of the 50-60s next to Peter Sellers (this is a long ways from the Lemmon of "The Apartment" or "Irma La Douce"!). Peter Falk, a decade before "Columbo" is hysterical too, while Natalie Wood never looked more sexy (except for the last part of "Gypsy") than she does here.
They don't make this kind of simple comedy devoid of crudity any longer. That's what makes a film like "The Great Race" something to keep coming back to and enjoying again and again.
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