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Grand Prix (1966)
Still one of the best racing films:
Today, over 37 years after it first found its way into Cinerama theaters, this is still one of the finest films on auto racing ever conceived. To me, only Steve McQueen's "LeMans" of 1970 can match it.
Yes, it's too long, and too "soapy" when off the track, but the on-track images and sounds are spectacular. Every photographic special effect in the book back then was used, and Maurice Jarre's score fit quite well (though the bossa nova selections do seem rather dated now).
It also does a service of preserving the atmosphere of Formula 1 before the era of wings, advertising, downforce and chicanes. A more dangerous era, certainly, but a freer and less restricted one.
This one cries out for issuance on DVD with all the "bonus feature" bells and whistles. How about it, MGM?
A must-have for road-racing fans, though probably of little interest to anyone else.
Dive Bomber (1941)
While the story may be a bit routine ("Flight Surgeon" might have been a more appropriate title), the high point of this movie was depiction of the U.S. Navy aircraft in their bright pre-war colors. Filming this in Technicolor was the thing that separated it from so many other early aviation flicks. This one just cries out for reissuing on DVD.
The Racers (1955)
For road-racing fans only.
"The Racers" is a very routine movie in most respects, and Kirk Douglas' failure to make any attempt to sound like an Italian is lamentable.
What saves the movie, at least for me, is the rare look it provides into European Grand Prix and sports-car racing in the early '50s. For that alone, I find it worth having.
What's Up, Doc? (1972)
Still the funniest.
I've seen plenty of comedies before and since, and, for my money, "What's Up, Doc?" is still the funniest movie I've ever seen. The comic timing is brilliant throughout, and there is never a dull moment. Those criticizing Ryan O'Neal seem to be forgetting that he is playing the part of the straight man to all the zaniness going on around him, and he does the job quite well. Throw in one of the wildest chase scenes ever, and you have a classic. Boy, am I glad this has come out on DVD! (I rented "Bringing Up Baby" which is usually touted as the inspiration for this movie, and I frankly found the earlier movie to be disappointing.)
Top Gun (1986)
A feel-good movie.
My feeling about "Top Gun" can be summed up as follows. When I am feeling a bit out of sorts, I watch this movie and it gets me out of my funk. The jingoism some others may hate can be a spirit-lifter if you let it.
Of course, it may help that I was a design engineer on the F-14, so that may make me a bit biased. To me the F-14 Tomcat, and not Cruise or McGillis, is the REAL star of "Top Gun"!