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The Great Race (1965)

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In the early 20th century, two rivals, the heroic Leslie and the despicable Professor Fate, engage in an epic automobile race from New York to Paris.

Director:

Blake Edwards

Writers:

Arthur A. Ross (screenplay) (as Arthur Ross), Blake Edwards (original story) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
3,060 ( 181)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Lemmon ... Professor Fate / Crown Prince Frederick Hoepnick
Tony Curtis ... The Great Leslie
Natalie Wood ... Maggie Dubois
Peter Falk ... Maximilian Meen
Keenan Wynn ... Hezekiah Sturdy
Arthur O'Connell ... Henry Goodbody
Vivian Vance ... Hester Goodbody
Dorothy Provine ... Lily Olay
Larry Storch ... Texas Jack
Ross Martin ... Baron Rolfe Von Stuppe
George Macready ... General Kuhster
Marvin Kaplan ... Frisbee
Hal Smith ... Mayor of Borracho
Denver Pyle ... Sheriff
William Bryant ... Baron's Guard (as Bill Bryant)
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Storyline

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 <jbaker@erim.org>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

with the music of HENRY MANCINI including "The Sweetheat Tree" "Pie in the Face Polka" and many more See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 December 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Blake Edwards' The Great Race See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Stereo (RCA Sound System)| 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During the pie fight, the Great Leslie remains clean while everyone else is covered in pie. Tony Curtis was actually changing clothes several times, because he all too often got hit with pie during filming. See more »

Goofs

When Professor Fate and Max are driving along the rail tracks they run into a train coming in the opposite direction. This happens when they are out of sight, having just disappeared round a bend. They come into view again, being pushed by the train, but their car has mysteriously turned around: instead of rolling backwards on the track it is pointing in the same direction as the train. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
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 »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Alternate Versions

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 »

Connections

Referenced in Cannonball Run II (1984) See more »

Soundtracks

Tales from the Vienna Woods
(uncredited)
Written by Johann Strauss
Performed at the Potzdorf Ball
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Nostalgic Comfort Viewing
1 April 2005 | by gftbiloxiSee all my reviews

THE GREAT RACE may not be a masterpiece--but it is a perfect choice for a cold and rainy night: stylish, frothy, and often flatly hilarious, it makes for "comfort viewing" at its best.

One of the movie's several charms is that it draws heavily from Victorian clichés that still linger in the public mind, gives them a gentle comic spin, and then drops them into the tale of an early 1900s auto race from New York to Paris by way of Siberia. Add to this a heap of favorite character actors, a big budget, flamboyant period costumes, and the biggest pie fight ever filmed, and you have a movie where there is always something to enjoy on the screen.

The great thing about THE GREAT RACE are the performances, which are very broad but endowed with a sly humor. The comedy accolades here go to Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk as the notorious Dr. Fate and his bumbling sidekick Max--wonderful bits of acting that will have you hooting with laughter in every scene--and Dorothy Provine scores memorably in a cameo as Lily Olay, the bombshell singer who presides over the most rootin'-tootin' saloon this side of the Pecos.

But every one, from Tony Curtis and the lovely Natalie Wood down to such cameo performers as Vivian Vance, get in plenty of comic chops as the film drifts from one outrageous episode to another: suffragettes crowding a newspaper, the biggest western brawl imaginable, polar bears, explosions, daredevil antics, and a subplot lifted from THE PRISONER OF ZENDA agreeably crowd in upon each other. True, the film does seem over-long and may drag a bit in spots, but it never drags for very long, and it's all in good fun--and the production values and memorable score easily tide over the bare spots. Lots of fun.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer


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