The Great Race

Synopsis: The movie with the 20,000-mile or one-million-laugh guarantee!

Crank your engines! With a roar, sputter and pop (and more Academy Award winning Best Sound Effects), drivers wheel westward in wacky turn-of-the-century autos for a New York-to-Paris race. Ahead lie 20,000 miles, a barroom brawl, a sinkable iceberg, 2,357 pies in the face and incalculable laughs.

Black Edwards turns a marvelous cast loose on a round-the-world highway booby-trapped by some of the funniest screen gags ever. Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk are nasty Professor Fate and his dim henchman Max. Tony Curtis is their good-guy nemesis, the Great Leslie. And Natalie Wood is cheroot-puffing suffragette reporter Maggie DuBois. Zestily scored by Henry Mancini, The Great Race is great fun!

The Great Race 8.0

I came to this one with much trepidation: not only had I read some pretty critical comments about it, but I was worried that it might like ‘It’s Mad Mad Mad Mad World’, which had come two years prior. Nothing spawns carbon copies quite like successful motion pictures, as we all know. And I hated ‘Mad World’. I found it so unfunny and overly long that I sold off my DVD as soon as I had watched it.

So I was worried that this may be similar torture. But I was pleasantly surprised with ‘The Great Race’. I found its humour just right for the type of film it is (although the pie fight scene was too much for me oO), but it actually passed pretty quickly for a two and half hour film.

In fact, it was the perfect Sunday morning movie for me. It started with a blend Looney Tunes-type humour that was silly, but extremely well executed – it actually worked in live-action format, which is rare. Then it went into adventure mode, with (mostly) casual humour laced through.

Jack Lemmon’s cartoon malevolence was, incredibly, spot-on and delightful; he played the Wile-e Coyote mad genius and desperate achiever just right. His broad strokes can sometimes be too much, but they were exactly what was needed for this character. Sadly, not so with his characterization of the prince oO

Natalie Wood’s feminist character was a lot of fun and she was a joy to watch. And Peter Falk (R.I.P.) was serviceable and more subdued than he could be. As for Tony Curtis… well, he seemed constipated the whole way through; he was good, but I could not help but see the actor, not the character.

It was a fun film, and I would watch it again without hesitation. While this race may not have been “great”, per se, it was a real pleasure to watch.

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