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>
Natalie Wood reportedly did not like making this film, and would seize upon any excuse to miss a day's filming. Her main complaint was the fact that she felt she was being sexually harassed by both Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. See more »
When Professor Fate is fleeing from the "Indians" he turns on the smoke screen. In long shots the smoke can clearly be seen filling the car's interior. In close-up the car is smoke free. See more »
It's been my experience, General, that there is little advantage to winning if one wins too easily.
Rah! Oh oh, rah! Oh rah! Oh rah ah ah! What do you think of that, General?
An admirable point of view, for anyone but a soldier. In my profession, to win is imperative. To win easily is a blessing.
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Starts with the dedication "For Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy". Opening credits are in the form of a turn of the century slide show, beginning with "Ladies kindly remove your hats". The WB logo is drawn on the hood of a car. When the main characters are introduced, Jack Lemmon is jeered (and sticks out his tongue in reply), Tony Curtis cheered and Natalie Wood gets dog whistles. There are various hiccups along the way: a fly is shooed off by a stick, the lights go out and a (real) hand with a match comes on. Other slides have to be adjusted by hand. When one of them starts to burn, "One moment please" is interjected. The producers' credit is upside down. The last slide turns into the opening shot of the movie. See more »
Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, memorably paired in "Some Like It Hot", tried it again in "The Great Race". Natalie Wood was a reluctant addition, with a new biography of this actress repeating her displeasure with the film and its director. Peter Falk, not yet Columbo, rounded out a globetrotting quartet chasing first prize in the 1908 New York to Paris automobile race.
Much has been made of how the script's "Prisoner of Zenda" subplot slows the action. Yet these scenes shot in Salzburg have contributed several zingers to the stock of movie quotes floating around in general circulation. Someone must have liked the "Potzdorf" episode, as "More brandy!" and "Drat!
I never mix my pies!" remain among Jack Lemmon's most cited lines.
Surviving participants in the real-life 1908 competition did not care for this trashing of their personal history. I loved it on its first release way back when, and it remains a pleasant (if long) watch on cable TV and home video.
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