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The Great Race (1965) Poster

Goofs

Factual errors 

When Professor Fate is lifted by an airplane flown by Max, the plane resembles a Curtiss Headless Pusher. This plane was not designed and built until 1912, four years after the year in which this movie was set. In July of 1908 Glenn Curtiss flew his June Bug design, which was the first public exhibition of flight in the US (the Wright Brothers had not yet flown publicly). The 1908 June Bug and the 1912 Headless Pusher bear little resemblance to each other. In reality, the June Bug was not as nimble and stable as the Pusher, so it is understandable why the 1912 design was used in the movie.
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Anachronisms 

The large American flag hanging outside a window (with the French flag) near the beginning of the race has 48 stars. In 1908, when this movie supposedly takes place, there were only 46 states (New Mexico and Arizona were admitted in 1912, and Alaska and Hawaii were admitted in 1959). Many flags (perhaps all, it's hard to tell) being waved by the crowd have 46 stars.
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Set in 1908, TV antennae visible on the Eiffel Tower.
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In the scene on the beach in the tent when Leslie and Maggie DuBois drink champagne, Leslie puts on a phonograph record of "The Desert Song." The film is set in about 1908; "The Desert Song" did not premiere until 1926.
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The Great Leslie exits the balloon using a knapsack parachute. This was not invented until 1911 three years after the year in which the movie is set.
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At the end of the race, there are 50-star American flags.
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When The Great Leslie is driving the speedboat, the steering wheel is made of injection-molded plastic. No such thing in 1908.
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In this story set in 1908, Wood, Provine and almost all the other women have their hair done in the 1960s high style that Daniela Bianchi wears in From Russia with Love.
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Although set in 1908 (and before) Dr. Fate's assistant flies a black Curtis Model D, first flown in 1911.
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Audio/visual unsynchronised 

In the saloon scenes several gunshots have no accompanying sound effect.
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Character error 

Baron Von Stuppe is known, according to Prince Hoepnick, for his swordsmanship. It is odd that he would not be aware that Leslie had won the "International Men's Fencing Championship" when he asks Leslie if he know how to use a foil.
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Continuity 

At the and of the pie-throwing scene (done on an interior set), Natalie Wood is thoroughly covered with pie filling, topping, and crust. When she is seen entering the car (an exterior shot), though this ostensibly takes place just moments after the end of the pie fight, she is now only picturesquely dabbed with pie debris.
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When Professor Fate is fleeing from the "Indians" he turns on the smoke screen. In long shots the smoke can clearly be seen filling the car's interior. In close-up the car is smoke free.
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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.
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When Professor Fate and Max are driving along the rail tracks they run into a train coming in the opposite direction. This happens when they are out of sight, having just disappeared round a bend. They come into view again, being pushed by the train, but their car has mysteriously turned around: instead of rolling backwards on the track it is pointing in the same direction as the train.
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When Leslie is putting on the parachute in the hot air balloon, we see a shot of the crowd below, in which the spectators are clearly visible, not much more than a hundred feet. But when he jumps, the pull back shot is much higher, possibly thousands of feet. The balloon was supposed to be losing altitude due to the hole from Professor Fate's arrow. Additionally, the first shot is likely not high enough for a parachute to work.
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Towards the beginning of the race where Professor Fate and Max put out their engine fire with the foamy fire extinguisher, Max gets his long scarf snagged on the front of the car. The scene cuts to the approaching car of Maggie Dubois momentarily, then quickly cuts back to Max, whose scarf is now completely untangled and arranged neatly around his neck.
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During Lily Olay's musical number, the amount of foam in Professor Fate's beer changes radically when she blows it in his face.
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When Leslie swims to the castle and climbs the wall, the rope he carries with him is much thinner than the one he actually uses to climb the wall.
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Just before Maggie Dubois sings "The Sweetheart Tree," Hezekiah is playing the guitar left handed. After he puts it down, Maggie picks it up and immediately begins playing right handed without re-stringing it.
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Shortly before the starting gun, a very tall police officer (who strikingly resembles Max Baer Jr.) picks up two children on his shoulders. A couple minutes before that, while Peter Falk is cranking up the Hannibal 8 automobile, you can see the cop in the background with the kids already on his shoulders.
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When Prof Fate is showing Max the completed Hannibal Twin 8's features, they enter the car and Fate has Max raise the vehicle. They then produce the cannon which Max fires when told to lower the car. Once the cannon is fired, the view goes outside and we see Fate's garage falling apart, the doors falling down, and the Hannibal inside in a lowered position.
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In the tent on the beach Maggie has a half a glass of champagne one second and the next it is full without it being replenished. Also, the color of the liquid in their glasses changes from amber to clear and back.
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In the scene where Max (Peter Falk) is dressed as a friar, he first appears with a rope belt, tied with little excess, outside the castle just as The Great Leslie is being led to the dungeon. Then, when the guard answers Max's knock at the dungeon door, the belt is gone. The next shot has Max following the guard and knocking him out, and he is now wearing a rope belt with a long section hanging down.
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After Max drives the "Leslie Special" into the castle where Maggie and the Prince are being held. He parks next to the "Hannibal Twin 8", exits the "Leslie" then jumps into the "Hannibal" and starts it up. Earlier in the movie, Max had to use a crank to start the engine.
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When Professor Fate, Max, and the kidnapped Maggie arrive in their first stop after arriving in Russia. The crowd is quiet and Fate stands up, removes his hate, and announces "I am Professor Fate."

The first shot when he is standing Fate is holding his hat out horizontally. The next close up he has his arm bent ant the hat up over his head, the final shot his arm is again extended horizontally.
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When the pie-fight scene begins the Professor is knocked into the giant coronation cake, breaking it in half. When the Prince arrives later he too is knocked into the cake, but it is miraculously whole again when he hits it.
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Fate and Max destroy the roof of Leslie's car when they fall through it while while fleeing the polar bear. But before they reach dry land the roof is back to normal. Even though they would have had time to make some repairs before being rescued, they certainly would have done so immediately to avoid freezing to death.
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Crew or equipment visible 

During the pie fight (particularly at the start), the sound of a 35mm still camera's motor drive can be heard.
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Factual errors 

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.
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Dr Fate's submarine would not operate under water using a paddle wheel as shown. The submarine would stay in one place.
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When Leslie drives on the beach his tires are heard to screech when he brakes. Tires will only screech on pavement, never on sand or dirt. This is obviously intentional, as the film is a spoof.
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Leslie's comment about being warmed by alcohol is in error; an error that is often presented in film and on TV. This can be very dangerous if viewers were to try this. As alcohol is a depressant, it lowers the body temperature, which seems to make one feel warmer. In actual freezing conditions, drinking alcohol would increase one's risk of hypothermia and death.
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When Leslie reaches the Eiffel Tower we can clearly see a banner with the word "FINIS" on it. In correct French, one should have seen "ARRIVEE". "Finis" is more or less an accurate translation of "ended" in plural form. The french counterparts for START/FINISH are indeed DEPART/ARRIVEE.
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Leslie agrees to take Maggie DuBoise to Grommet if she sends a homing pigeon ahead of them with a message to send for gasoline. But since homing pigeons are bred to return to the place they nested from, it would be impossible to get one of hers to fly to Grommet.
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Miscellaneous 

As the Baron prepares to jump out the window after the sword-fight with Leslie, he attributes his parting quip to "a famous English gentleman" that starts out "He who fights and runs away . . . ". That passage, however, is from a poem by Oliver Goldsmith, a doctor from Ireland.
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The town of Boracho is a misspelling of the Spanish word "Borracho" (drunkard).
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

In the final sprint to Paris, Maggie DuBois's costume changes. Since her costume changes at a phenomenal rate throughout the film, this was probably intentional.
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In the prison, just before he knocks out Hezekiah with the iron bar, Max hits Maggie DuBois on the back swing.
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A left handed musician playing a guitar (or similar instrument) up side down without restringing it is not an error. Many left handed musicians do this.
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Revealing mistakes 

The guide wire is visible on the missile following Professor Fate's car.
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During the hot air balloon scene, wires on the balloon are clearly seen.
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Professor Fate's car, the Hannibal Twin 8, has the ability to elevate the chassis above the ground. However, whenever this function is used, both the engine and drive train of the vehicle also rise, leaving the wheels on the ground with no method of propulsion nor steering. So the car is driving around on wheels apparently not powered by anything. Note that while the car is being driven around the castle courtyard, small boxes are visible next to the rear wheels: these are almost certainly batteries for an electric motor. And in this example, with there being no ability to steer, the wheels were almost certainly fixed to drive in a circle.
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When Frisbee loses his footing when retrieving the pigeon at the newspaper office, his right leg "disappears" as he hangs from the ledge. This is due to his leg swinging into the matte shot that was created to "place" him into the shot to complete the building's appearance - the initial setup was done on a soundstage.
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When Fate first reveals the Hannibal Twin 8 to Max, the camera pulls back to a wide shot. To change from the dramatic lighting of the close up, you can see many more off-camera lights being switched on to light up the entire garage for the reveal of the car.
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When Leslie is attempting to rescue the Prince, Hezekiah and Maggie from the Baron's castle he confronts two guards. One swings his rifle and hits his partner. The rifle can clearly be seen to bend indicating that it is rubber.
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You can see that when Crown Prince Frederick Hoepnick (a.k.a. Jack Lemmon) comes out of the Bakery after the pie fight his mustache has fallen off.
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Spoilers

The goof item below may give away important plot points.

Continuity 

In a scene towards the end of the movie, the communication antenna on the Eiffel Tower is shown but when Professor Fate blows up the Eiffel Tower in the final scene, the communication antenna is not present.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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