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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>
The ice floe sequence was shot on what is now known as Warner Bros. Sound Stage 16, the biggest and tallest sound stage on the Warner Bros. studio lot. Originally, in the early days of the studio, it was known as Stage 7. If you look closely at the water that surrounds the actors and the automobiles on the slab of ice, you can see a multitude of reflections from the lights on the stage's catwalks. Stage 16 was originally a standard-sized sound stage, but when the studio needed room to film tall-masted ships in its earlier years, the entire stage was jacked up while steel and concrete buttresses were built underneath the structure for added support, doubling the stage's height after the new foundation was poured. Its floor is retractable to reveal a deep flotation tank as well as windowed camera cabins for underwater filming. In "The Great Race," a portion of the gradually "melting ice floe" was attached to cables that kept the slab of "ice" in position and the portion which gradually gave way underneath Professor Fate was pulled down by an underwater diver in the tank. See more »
Professor Fate's car, the Hannibal Twin 8, has the ability to elevate the chassis above the ground. However, whenever this function is used, both the engine and drive train of the vehicle also rise, leaving the wheels on the ground with no method of propulsion nor steering. So the car is driving around on wheels apparently not powered by anything. Note that while the car is being driven around the castle courtyard, small boxes are visible next to the rear wheels: these are almost certainly batteries for an electric motor. And in this example, with there being no ability to steer, the wheels were almost certainly fixed to drive in a circle. 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 »
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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