Friday’s Favorite Flix – The Great Race

by | Aug 29, 2014

The Great Race

Included on my list of favorite directors is Blake Edwards. The number of his movies that will eventually show up in this column is quite high for a single director. We'll start it off with his 1965 slapstick, action/comedy, “The Great Race”. Produced by Martin Jurow, written by Edwards and Arthur A. Ross with music by Henry Mancini, it's a popcorn and grins movie from the opening credits to the very last scene.

Taking its core idea from a real New York to Paris automobile race held in 1908, “The Great Race” is about two dare devils that face off against each other during the race. It's pure slapstick comedy. Don't expect to have to do any real thinking during this movie. It's just a fun ride with some gorgeous scenery and a lot of laughs.

Characters

During the movie you get to jeer for Professor Fate, the villain in black, played by Jack Lemmon (“Push the button, Max.”); cheer for The Great Leslie, the hero in white, played by Tony Curtis (“I am simply Leslie and I'm at your service.”); fall for Maggie Dubois, the beautiful heroine, played by Natalie Wood (“I would dare anything for women's rights.”); and laugh at Maximilian Meen, the sidekick, played by Peter Falk (“You want me to feed you?”).

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.

Locations

The movie takes you from New York (Professor Fate's haunted-style mansion and The Great Leslie's desert Sheik-style beach tent are located near there) to Baracho for a saloon brawl, to an ice berg in the Bering Strait, to Russia, to the small kingdom of Pottsdorf for palace intrigue and a pie fight and finally to Paris and the Eiffel Tower.

You Want Everything With That?

There are a few movies that have been produced that try to throw everything and the kitchen sink at you. This is one of them. The movie uses almost every mode of transportation: Hot-air balloons, a biplane, a rowboat, a speed boat, a submarine, horses, horse-drawn carriages, trains, a rocket-powered rail car and of course automobiles (The Great Leslie pronounces that last word carefully pronouncing each syllable and placing the accent on the second “o”). The movie features a huge old west barroom brawl containing everything you can think of: furniture collapsing under the weight of thrown people, guys being thrown through plate glass windows, guys being thrown over the bar into the bottles and mirror behind, guys flying off of second floor walkways, a bottles\broken over a head, a spittoon used as brass knuckles, a table smashed into someone and stair cases and second floor walkways collapsing – All while a piano player is playing and saloon girls are singing and dancing. In a later part of the race the racers have to deal with a small kingdom's palace intrigue. This includes a duel between The Great Leslie and Baron Rolfe Von Stuppe (played by Ross Martin – “He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.”). The duel starts with foils, moving on to sabers and includes the requisite slashes drawing blood from each fighter. The intrigue ends with the second biggest and second best pie fight ever produced (Laurel & Hardy's “The Battle of the Century” gets the nod as biggest and best). The racers, royalty, the conspirators and the bakers all get into the act throwing thousands of pies and falling into a huge cake a couple of times.

This movie is for all ages and frequently appears on our playlist. All of the characters are played over-the-top and the whole movie is designed to make you laugh. I think you'll like it.

Images by Warner Bros.


Steve Cooper

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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