Friday’s Favorite Flix – Grand Prix
This week's Friday's Favorite Flix is Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)'s 1966 Academy Award winning film (Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Effects – Sound Effects), “Grand Prix.” Directed by John Frankenheimer, the movie is about an American Grand Prix (Formula One) driver who gets fired from one race team and hired by another. It's also about his year in the sport along with subplots about other drivers, their efforts to win the championship and their romantic involvements.
"Grand Prix" Stars and Plot
James Garner plays Pete Aron. Aron is an American F1 driver who is fired by Jordan BRM owner, Jeff Jordan (played by Jack Watson) after he causes a crash at Monaco that injures his teammate, Scott Stoddard (played by Brian Bedford). After trying to sign on with Ferrari and being rejected by the team's owner, Agostini Manetta (played by Adolfo Celi), Aron does one race as a television reporter and then signs on with a Japanese team led by Izo Yamura (played by Toshirô Mifune). There are also subplots about a French driver and Italian driver. The Frenchman, Jean-Pierre Sarti (played by Yves Montand), has grown tired of racing and his wife, Monique Delvaux-Sarti (played by Geneviève Page). The Italian, Nino Barlini (played by Antonio Sabato) is fun-loving, but serious about racing. Both Sarti and Barlini race for Ferrari. There are also the women they love: Eva Marie Saint plays American photo journalist, Louise Frederickson who is in an affair with Sarti. Jessica Walter plays Pat, the wife of Stoddard, who has a brief affair with Aron. Lastly, there's Lisa (played by Françoise Hardy) who is Barlini's girlfriend.
Friday’s Favorite Flix are descriptions of those movies we love – We either own them or when channel surfing, we’ll stop when we find them and settle down to watch.
If you have a movie that you think should be in Friday’s Favorite Flix, let us know. We like discovering new favorites.
All of the romance and drama are completely overshadowed by the suspense and action-filled racing scenes. There was no CGI in the 60's. They had to do it with real cars on real tracks and it shows. What you get are actors and stuntmen in F1 cars driving at fast speeds. Using ground-breaking camera angles and placements, you actually get the feeling of racing on some of the tracks the F1 sport then called home.
The Cars, Tracks and Advertising
The film makes use of the Formula One sport of it's time – A sport for manufacturers along with some private entries. Because of this, you won't see much advertising on the drivers uniforms, helmets or cars. You will see some on the tracks. In the 70's, F1 became a billion-dollar business with almost every available space bought by the advertisers. I'm not denigrating advertising in racing – It pays the bills for the thrills. Still, there's a feeling of loss of innocence at the world we've created and sold to advertisers.
“Grand Prix” is the pinnacle of auto racing movies. When judged against “Grand Prix,” no other motor sports movie comes close. The movie has all the action you could want. It has fun, romance, drama and suspense. The acting is terrific and Frankenheimer's directing is superb. His blending of cinematography, music and action set a standard that still exists today. Originally shot for Cinerama screens, the cinematography makes very good use of widescreen shots. If you're a racing fan, you must see this movie. If you're not necessarily into racing, but love action movies, “Grand Prix” should be very high on your list of must-see movies. The movie works very well on your TV screen (as big as possible, please), but if you ever get a chance to see it in a movie theater, do so. You'll love the enveloping feeling you get.
About Steve Cooper
Steve Cooper is an applications software developer who also builds custom home media solutions. His interests include reading, music & movies, guitar, woodworking and motor racing.
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