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 <email@example.com>
Part of what convinced Jack Lemmon to take this film was the chance to play two utterly disparate characters: The outrageously evil Professor Fate, and the gentle-souled, puppy-like Prince Frederick. Lemmon played both roles with a comic abandon rarely displayed by this highly disciplined actor. See more »
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. See more »
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]
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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 »
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 »
Although "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" was the first comedy to get the epic film treatment, "The Great Race" is in my opinion the best epic comedy. It's just a much funnier film with so many laughs in its first half that the more serious part dealing with the palace intrigues and the straight sword fight acts more as a breather for the viewer before it revs up again with the funniest pie fight of all time and the smashing (literally) finale. Jack Lemmon shows why he was probably the most versatile comic actor of the 50-60s next to Peter Sellers (this is a long ways from the Lemmon of "The Apartment" or "Irma La Douce"!). Peter Falk, a decade before "Columbo" is hysterical too, while Natalie Wood never looked more sexy (except for the last part of "Gypsy") than she does here.
They don't make this kind of simple comedy devoid of crudity any longer. That's what makes a film like "The Great Race" something to keep coming back to and enjoying again and again.
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