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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Both the "Hannibal 8" and the "Leslie Special" are on display in the Hollywood Gallery at The Peterson Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, California. The other "Leslie Special" is on display at the Tupelo Automobile Museum in Tupelo, MS. The Hannibal 8 driven by Professor Fate was powered by a Corvair six-cylinder engine and three-speed transmission. Six Hannibal 8 cars were built for the movie at a reported cost of $150,000 each, three of which used the lazy tongs lifting mechanism, so fragile that it broke constantly. The "Leslie Special" was designed and built by the studio using parts from several cars. See more »
During the scene towards the beginning of the race where Professor Fate and Max put out their engine fire with the foamy fire extinguisher, the car in the background, which in a previous shot lost its wheels, now has the wheels reattached. 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]
See more »
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 has been re-released in France in 1996. However, after the race starts, all scenes involving people from the newspaper in New York have been cut. The French authorities or distributors took them as a mockery of the French suffragette's, feminist's and women's lib movements. See more »
The Great Race is a marvelously entertaining cartoon of a movie. Everyone is a broad character and slapstick abounds. The actors are great and the comedy is lively. If it has a fault, it's that it is a bit longer than necessary. However, it never slows down too much to make you lose interest.
Jack Lemmon steals the show as the deliciously despicable Professor Fate. Lemmon brings melodramtic greatness to what would normally be the Terry Thomas role (and I love Terry Thomas). His partner in crime is Peter Falk, as the harried, but loyal Max. Together, they make this film great.
Tony Curtis is the perfect true-blue hero, even if that becomes a bit obnoxious. He's so great that you just can't wait for Prof. Fate to get one up on him.
Natalie Wood gets a bit annoying, too, as Maggie Dubois. Her strident proclamations about equality start to get on your nerves fairly rapidly. She's not quite intrepid enough for Nellie Bly, and not quite smart enough for Gloria Steinum. She has some good comedic moments, though.
The film is episodic in nature and a bit uneven, but there a great moments throughout. Scenes to look for: The early daredevil rivalry between the Great Leslie and Prof. Fate, the saloon brawl in Borracho, the Prisoner of Zenda send-up, and the pie fight.
Hollywood doesn't make great slapstick farces like this anymore. Humor now revolves around groin injuries and stupid one-liners and catch phrases. We don't see great character pieces anymore. It's a shame as these kinds of movies hold up well; especially as family fare.
The DVD is pretty bare-bones. It would have been nice to have some commentary from Blake Edwards and Tony Curtis. Warner Brothers has but out some pretty substandard DVD packages, this one included. Still, it's worth the price just to watch the movie.
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