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The Great Race (1965)

Passed | | Action, Adventure, Comedy | 14 October 1965 (UK)
2:51 | Trailer

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In the early 20th century, two rivals, the heroic Leslie and the despicable Professor Fate, engage in an epic automobile race from New York to Paris.


Blake Edwards


Arthur A. Ross (screenplay) (as Arthur Ross), Blake Edwards (original story) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Lemmon ... Professor Fate / Crown Prince Frederick Hoepnick
Tony Curtis ... The Great Leslie
Natalie Wood ... Maggie Dubois
Peter Falk ... Maximilian Meen
Keenan Wynn ... Hezekiah Sturdy
Arthur O'Connell ... Henry Goodbody
Vivian Vance ... Hester Goodbody
Dorothy Provine ... Lily Olay
Larry Storch ... Texas Jack
Ross Martin ... Baron Rolfe Von Stuppe
George Macready ... General Kuhster
Marvin Kaplan ... Frisbee
Hal Smith ... Mayor of Borracho
Denver Pyle ... Sheriff
William Bryant ... Baron's Guard (as Bill Bryant)


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 Jeanne Baker <jbaker@erim.org>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

14 October 1965 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Blake Edwards' The Great Race See more »


Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Stereo (RCA Sound System)| 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The full name of Tony Curtis' character The Great Leslie was "Leslie Galant III". See more »


In the tent on the beach Maggie has a half a glass of wine one second and the next it is full without it being replenished. See more »


[first lines]
Master of Ceremonies: [addressing the crowd] Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to witness the most spectacular feat ever attempted by the greatest daredevil in the world: The Great Leslie!
[the crowd cheers]
Master of Ceremonies: He will be strapped in a straightjacket before your very eyes and lifted up into the clouds where eagles soar and no sparrow dares to venture!
[the crowd murmurs]
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Alternate Versions

The Great Race has been re-released in France in 1996. However, after the race starts, all scenes involving people from the newspaper in New York have been cut. The French authorities or distributors took them as a mockery of the French suffragette's, feminist's and women's lib movements. See more »


"It Looks Like a Big Night Tonight' (uncredited)
Music by Egbert Van Alstyne
Lyrics by Harry Williams
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Trivia - those unnecessary cuts
29 September 2008 | by satwalker99-1See all my reviews

A couple of points that I don't think have been covered:

One review mentioned this film's chequered career on TV. This is one of several classic "spectaculars" with special cinema first road runs that have suffered evisceration since their original cinema release in the name of schedules which programmers once saw as their priorities. It's a festering sore that goes back many years particularly where ITV was concerned. With the development of DVDs this hated practice has been ameliorated somewhat with many cuts having been replaced (and even extras been added). One of the earliest "victims" was Karloff's "Frankenstein" & the notorious drowning of Maria,the young child.

In my mind the most ludicrous was the case of "It's A Mad....World" where nearly 40mins was lost to TV & DVD - very significant because many of its famous comic cast were listed but never seen, though briefly. There was a restoration a couple of years back but where is it? "S Pacific" lost about 20mins and remains so. Even a restoration of Wayne's "The Alamo" still loses nearly 15mins. We expect to be able to still watch the full versions.... Now in the case of "The Great Race" how many have seen the full version with the amusing "Bouncing Ball" singalong sequence about 20mins from the end after that great Mancini theme "The Sweetheart Tree" is sung by Natalie Wood on the river bank as she strums her guitar? Tony Curtis pauses his shaving to listen. It has been missing ever since the original release(supposedly in Cinerama). Last year (I forget the channel) I was staggered to happen by accident to catch the full version. Today I watched another rerun on Channel 5 and this sequence was still missing. So the full version does exist out there - somewhere.

Natalie Wood on a couple of occasions is seen to be swimming in a pool emerging displaying her ravishing figure. It must have taken some persuasion from Blake Edwards because of her deadly fear of water - the story goes that this arose when in an early film she was the victim of a trick by the director to have her plunged into an icy stream. Of course her drowning in 1981 during the filming of "Brainstorm" (still controversial today)was all the more horrifying because of its irony.

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