Features every major European race track but Le Mans
This title is not to be confused with the more famous Steve McQueen 'Le Mans' movie from 1971 or the 1952 film 'Le Mans 1952'. Further more, although there are many extended race scenes set in Jarama (Spain), Zandvoort (the Netherlands), Monza and Modena (both in Italy), at no time do any of the proceedings take place in Le Mans, France. Thirdly, the subtitle 'Shortcut to Hell' is also misleading, for despite several near misses, nobody goes out in a blaze of glory. So in effect, the title is a complete falsehood. But it's still better suited to this race movie than the alternate American title that IMDb lists: 'Summer Love'.
John Lee Scott (Lang Jeffries, your typical beefy seventies leading man) is an ex-racing champion who takes it upon himself to train young up and coming Dustin Rich (Maurizio Bonuglia). Young and impetuous, Dustin has a knack of escaping dangerous accidents. Great Scott tells him to hone his skills in a stock car rally. While not traveling around Europe to compete, all the racers like to hang out around a pool with their girlfriends. These include Scott's wife Sheila (Erna Schürer) and Cora (Edwige Fenech), girlfriend of fellow racer Franco Baresi (Marcello Di Paolo). Although Fenech gets a prominent credit (and indeed is the main reason people such as myself sought out this film) her role is small and insignificant. She does get out of the pool in a wet shirt at one time after being pushed in, as is her wont.
While John Lee Scott meets up with an 80 year old mechanic who's been working on a brand new racing machine that can go 300 kilometers an hour, Sheila appears to grow closer to young Dustin, but he refuses her advances. And that's basically what happens in every plot strand: things are hinted at, but the characters always steer clear of a nasty outcome. In between we are treated to long stretches on the race circuit.This is all fine if you're into cars and stuff, but will seem like a rerun from 40 year old sport extravaganzas to others.
Only in the final race do we get an added element of suspense when one of the cars begins losing nuts and bolts and threatens to rip itself apart. Notice I used the word 'threaten' here, because, surprise surprise, it still manages to cross the finishing line. Still, it's nice work if you can get it, driving fast cars once in a while and lounging by the pool with pretty girls the rest of the time. Especially if one of them is La Fenech.
7 out of 10
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