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The Great Race (1965)

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2:51 | Trailer
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.

Director:

Blake Edwards

Writers:

Arthur A. Ross (screenplay) (as Arthur Ross), Blake Edwards (original story) | 1 more credit »
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599 ( 4,333)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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)
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

TOTAL LAUGHTER! The funniest motion picture ever made...about the most remarkable auto race ever! See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 December 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Blake Edwards' The Great Race See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the film, when The Great Leslie argues with Maggie DuBois over her deceit about the fate of his assistant Hezekiah, he mentioned the name of the train of which Hezekiah was handcuffed on: "The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe", before being corrected that the train's real name was "The Southern Pacific". The name "Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" is a direct reference to one of the most popular songs of the 1940s: "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe". Originally performed by Judy Garland, Ben Carter, Marjorie Main, Virginia O'Brien, Ray Bolger, and the MGM Studio Chorus for the motion picture The Harvey Girls (1946), the song was written by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer (who also wrote the lyrics for the songs for The Great Race (1965), thus the connection between the two films) and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song of 1946. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[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

Jack Lemmon is only credited as Professor Fate and not for his second role as Crown Prince Hapnik. 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 »

Connections

Referenced in Magic Time: A Tribute to Jack Lemmon (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Big Night Tonight
(uncredited)
Sung by the girls in the saloon
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Greatest pie fight on the silver screen
21 May 2004 | by grendelkhanSee all my reviews

The Great Race is a marvelously entertaining cartoon of a movie. Everyone is a broad character and slapstick abounds. The actors are great and the comedy is lively. If it has a fault, it's that it is a bit longer than necessary. However, it never slows down too much to make you lose interest.

Jack Lemmon steals the show as the deliciously despicable Professor Fate. Lemmon brings melodramtic greatness to what would normally be the Terry Thomas role (and I love Terry Thomas). His partner in crime is Peter Falk, as the harried, but loyal Max. Together, they make this film great.

Tony Curtis is the perfect true-blue hero, even if that becomes a bit obnoxious. He's so great that you just can't wait for Prof. Fate to get one up on him.

Natalie Wood gets a bit annoying, too, as Maggie Dubois. Her strident proclamations about equality start to get on your nerves fairly rapidly. She's not quite intrepid enough for Nellie Bly, and not quite smart enough for Gloria Steinum. She has some good comedic moments, though.

The film is episodic in nature and a bit uneven, but there a great moments throughout. Scenes to look for: The early daredevil rivalry between the Great Leslie and Prof. Fate, the saloon brawl in Borracho, the Prisoner of Zenda send-up, and the pie fight.

Hollywood doesn't make great slapstick farces like this anymore. Humor now revolves around groin injuries and stupid one-liners and catch phrases. We don't see great character pieces anymore. It's a shame as these kinds of movies hold up well; especially as family fare.

The DVD is pretty bare-bones. It would have been nice to have some commentary from Blake Edwards and Tony Curtis. Warner Brothers has but out some pretty substandard DVD packages, this one included. Still, it's worth the price just to watch the movie.


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