174 user 34 critic

The Great Race (1965)

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.


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 Boracho
Denver Pyle ... Sheriff of Boracho
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


with the music of HENRY MANCINI including "The Sweetheat Tree" "Pie in the Face Polka" and many more See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


According to Natalie Wood's sister Lana Wood, Natalie found working on the film to be taxing. On Friday, November 27, the day after Thanksgiving, Wood wrapped up the last bit of work, then went home and swallowed a bottle of prescription pills. Groggy from the drugs, she called her friend Mart Crowley who took her to the hospital for emergency treatment. See more »


Natalie Wood (Maggie Dubois) sends photo negatives to the newspaper by using homing pigeons. The negatives from the camera she is using would be too heavy for a pigeon to carry. Also, since there is no protective covering, the negative would have been ruined long before reaching its destination, 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 was licensed for showing in the Soviet Union in 1965. However, the whole episode where the race is going through Russia was cut. The Soviet authorities took it as a mockery of the 1908 Russian people. See more »


References The Battle of the Century (1927) See more »


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

User Reviews

A Big Budget Comedy That Sparkles
3 February 2015 | by HitchcocSee all my reviews

Some of the hottest stars of 1965 combine to produce a wonderful, comedic adventure movie in the tradition of "Around the World in Eighty Days" and "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World." Jack Lemmon is at his very best as Professor Fate, who tries to stop the irrepressible Tony Curtis (he of the sparkling teeth, the ultimate goody-two-shoes). Throw in Natalie Wood and a lot of incredible cliffhanging events, good versus evil, and you have an adventure that surpasses the aforementioned pair of movies. In this one the chemistry is excellent. While it is ridiculously outrageous, we are quickly taken into the realm of the film and it never lets up for a minute. It hearkens to the classic melodrama. At times I thought that while the sixties were one of the most explosive times in history, the movie industry was pretty sterile, especially when it came to the comedy. This one needs to be seen.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 174 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »






Release Date:

17 December 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Blake Edwards' The Great Race See more »


Box Office


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

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

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 »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed