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Lemmon's most underrated role
markcarlson222210 March 2003
Now I've read most of the comments on this film and while I might agree with some of the more specific comments regarding the looser and less plausible plot in the last third of the film and that Natalie Wood might have been more of a contribution and less of a distraction, these are moot points. The film is funny, enjoyable and a great tribute to the heyday of silent villains and heroes in a way that doesn't overdo it. Curtis' flashing smile, Wynn's turn-of-the-century mechanic character, the harried and frazzled O'Connell as Goodbody, and especially Falk's on-again, off-again sycophant/lackey/nobody's fool Max are memorable and fun. But as much as I like the main movie, my fave bits are the early scenes in which Professor Fate, always in black and macabre emblems, tries to outdo the stunts of the gleaming white, perfect and popular Great Lesile Gallant III. The stunts are fun, witty and totally unbelieveable. The plane pickup, the rocket train, the garishly painted torpedo with a mawkishly wonderful gramaphone speaker on top are priceless Victorian images of a time that we all imagine existed but never really did. Lemmon is a gem as Fate, right from the great use of his eyes under thick brows and black hat, to the spooky house in his own Munster's décor to the crème de la crème, the Hannibal Twin 8 race car. That car is a masterpiece of mechanical and artistic design. I wonder where it is now. Even the sound it generates in the film, that sinister and harmonious hum are perfect for Fate's élan.

What I've never understood is why I never heard more of Lemmon's comments on this film. It had to be fun to make and work with Curtis, but the role of Fate is so underrated. You never see it mentioned in Biography or any anthologies of Lemmon's work. I still roll in peals of laughter at his dizzy 'Let's see the Great Leslie try THAT one on for size...' as he passes out in the mud. Or when Max breaks off the moustache in the freezing storm, and all you see is Fate's astonished look of shock followed by a sideways glare that could cut glass. The last part of the film, the entire Prince Hapnik and Potsdorf sequences are less than helpful, and they really aren't needed, despite a record pie fight, but it does serve to give Lemmon another role, diametrically different from Fate. Again he uses his eyes and his voice to great effect. `Baron Rolf von SHTUPP!!'(Any relation to Lilly von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles?) With perfect timing. I mean it. Try it some time and you'll never match that unique panache which Lemmon displayed. All in all, a wonderful and fun film. No deep message, just good turn-of-the-century atmosphere, great gags and lively dialogue. Enjoy, and don't take it too seriously. After all, it's not PEARL HARBOR, is it? **** our of **** for me.
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Worthy of modern restoration and DVD issue.
alembic15 February 2001
In the classic opening credit sequence just before where we are transported back to the days of the "Magic lamp" slide projection shows, we are given a hint of what is to come when a tribute salute " For Mr Laurel & Mr Hardy " appears on the screen. Yes this movie does owe something to the slapstick routines of those two gentlemen yet it has a life of it's own which in many ways far surpasses slapstick. For those people who can only see the sight gags then this movie will only provide mild appeal. Look deeper and appreciate the marvellous comedic talents of Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Peter Falk, Keenan Wynn and Natalie Wood.

Comedy is always a thing of personal taste. I suspect that there will be those who will rave about how wonderful The Great Race is while others will call it a waste of time and money. There will be few in the middle ground. I fall into the rave category. To me this movie is sheer FUN.

The visuals are splendid and awesomly huge. The costumes fabulous and the location settings vast. Everything is over the top, yet there is still room for small subtleties and in-jokes. The actors have a ball. Jack Lemmon just sneaks in as the best scene stealer but the able cast hold their own too. The Great Race just cries out for a restoration job and a release on DVD - please !
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The Greatest Epic Comedy
Eric-62-24 September 1999
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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Nostalgic Comfort Viewing
gftbiloxi1 April 2005
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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Greatest pie fight on the silver screen
grendelkhan21 May 2004
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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Some Like It Custard
directoroffantasies31 October 2004
Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, memorably paired in "Some Like It Hot", tried it again in "The Great Race". Natalie Wood was a reluctant addition, with a new biography of this actress repeating her displeasure with the film and its director. Peter Falk, not yet Columbo, rounded out a globetrotting quartet chasing first prize in the 1908 New York to Paris automobile race.

Much has been made of how the script's "Prisoner of Zenda" subplot slows the action. Yet these scenes shot in Salzburg have contributed several zingers to the stock of movie quotes floating around in general circulation. Someone must have liked the "Potzdorf" episode, as "More brandy!" and "Drat!

I never mix my pies!" remain among Jack Lemmon's most cited lines.

Surviving participants in the real-life 1908 competition did not care for this trashing of their personal history. I loved it on its first release way back when, and it remains a pleasant (if long) watch on cable TV and home video.
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One of the most underrated movies of all time.
Chromium_519 January 2004
I cannot believe that "The Great Race" did not make it on AFI's 100 Funniest Movies list (well, actually I CAN believe it, since those lists seem very messed up to me). In fact, it has not gotten nearly as much recognition as it deserves.

It is simply one of the funniest movies I have ever seen! The whole cast shines (especially Lemmon, who should have won an Oscar for Best Scene Stealer). Besides the great slapstick, there are a million subtle details that you don't notice unless you are really paying attention. This is why the movie is still great after several viewings: each time you watch it, you are bound to catch some little joke you didn't see before.

Everything about this movie cracks me up. The contrast in character between Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon is just great, the chemistry between the different characters is great, the movie parodies are great, the sets are great, the slapstick is great, and the dialogue is great. Even the MUSIC is funny... every time that goofy theme music for Professor Fate starts playing, I start laughing.

If you haven't seen this, I highly suggest you rent it. Yes, it is long, but it is one of the few comedies I have seen that keeps up the laughs consistently... it never sags or has dull moments. It is downright hilarious from start to finish.

And to top it all off, it has some very cool cars.
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the best of everything!!!
mcs66manor11 February 2005
The best pie fight,bar room brawl,sword fight,comedic love story...wackiest villain...Saddened it's not mentioned as one of the greatest comedies ever or even mentioned as one of Jack Lemons greatest comedic roles.I'm guilty of quoting movie lines when the time is right and often quote from this movie. "Brandy,Brandy...","now you're using sex as a weapon..","RISE AND SHINE?"," if you were the mens fencing champion...""NOW CAN I GET ME SOME FIGHTN' ROOM!" I can't believe Tony Curtis was a second choice to play "The Great Leslie".His all American do-gooder mentality is nauseatingly funny. Natalie Wood is beautiful and plays the ultimate suffragette. Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk are a fun duo as Leslies villainous rivals and truly set the tempo of the slapstick.Only Blake Edwards could have pulled off such an epic comedy.Who cares if the the drive around the world does'nt make sense.This movie is a true blue farce in every sense,nothing more and nothing less. Perfect casting and screenplay and the writers should be commended.
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One of our all time favorites!
ppacct26 January 2018
My family just loves this movie. The characters are wonderfully played up by the top notch cast. As noted by others, Professor Fate is just a hoot. Then there's the sight gags like the sun glinting off Leslie's teeth in one shot. After you watch the movie the gag line, "Push the button Max," will stay with you forever *grin*.

Of course the most fabulous scene in the movie is in the confectionery near the end of the movie. I suppose others have given more of a description, but I'll just say it is the absolute best scene of its type ever done. I can't imagine what it would be like if they'd had to do a retake, ha ha. While there are just too many great scenes in this movie this scene makes watching the movie worth every minute.

It even has one of the better endings as well. Certainly a movie worth watching. And again. And again. *smile*
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One overlooked item.
rmayfield16 February 2019
In addition to being one of my favorite movies because of all the jokes, and sight gags, this movie also has what must be one of the most intense, toe too toe, duels on film. I'm not sure about Ross Martin (Baron) prowes with a sword, but Tony Curtis was a fencing master and it shows.
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The Great Race Is A Great Comedy
Maryl22 May 2001
This is director Blake Edwards salute to the early days of films. It is quite long, but worth the time to see this masterpiece, and appropriate for all ages. Its basically the good guy vs the bad guy and the heroine theme but the roles are mixed up in a wonderful way to where each main character is both at different times. I love Maggie DuBois(Natalie Wood) the most because she is such a strong intelligent woman, and yet beautiful and sexy. She would do anything to stay in the race, and did. Professor Fate and Max are not Laural and Hardy but evoke their comedy team spirit strongly. They are the ones that make the bumbling mistakes that make them more human than the perfect Leslie(Tony Curtis). The prince is a silly compliment to Professor Fate, both brilliantly played by Jack Lemmon. Also worth seeing is Vivian Vance as the wife of the newspaper owner, and Larry Storch as the gunfighter. I really liked the submarine, rocket sled, pedaled air balloon, and the vintage cars. Visually, this movie is a work of art, and the music is perfect. The score features Henry Mancini's "The Sweetheart Tree." Yes, there's lust, love and romance here too. This is the quintessential epic comedy of the 60's.
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For Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy
theowinthrop30 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I wish I could answer this - THE GREAT RACE and THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES both came out in 1965. It would be interesting to know who came up first with the idea of the car and/or the airplane film. Fortunately, aside from some brief cross-referenced scenes, THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN remained bound to the sky as THE GREAT RACE was bound to the earth.

In 1907 the world's first really great automobile race occurred: the Peking to Paris road race. It was such a success that it was hoped that a similar long race would be tried soon after. The result was the 1908 New York to Paris road race, which is the factual basis of THE GREAT RACE. It was won by a Thomas Flyabout, which had an appearance very much like the car driven by the Great Leslie. The cars in the 1908 race were to drive from New York City to Seattle, Washington, then get shipped by steamer to Vladivostok, and then to transverse the Russian Empire, Europe, and finally reach Paris. So keep in mind, there was no use of icebergs as in the film.

Blake Edwards always has enjoyed playing around in his comedies and musicals with images from the times of the story. For example, in THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLY one of the two male leads wears eyeglasses, and (to see his girlfriend) climbs the side of an office building - in short (as the story takes place in the 1920s) he is imitating Harold Lloyd in SAFETY LAST. He dedicates this film to Laurel and Hardy, although it is set before the 1920s.

In THE GREAT RACE he uses the forgotten 1908 race to build upon many different social events of the day like the suffragette movement that involves Natalie Wood (as the Nellie Bly like reporter Maggie) and her friend Vivian Vance as the wife (and temporary successor) of husband Arthur O'Connor a newspaper editor. There is also the final days of the American frontier, as seen in the sequences involving the town of Borracho and Tony Curtis' confrontation with Larry Storch over Dorothy Provine. There is (finally) the unsettled state of Balkan Europe, wherein the plot of Anthony Hope's THE PRISONER OF ZENDA is lampooned, concluding with a pie fight.

The film marked the reunion of Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon after their first pairing in SOME LIKE IT HOT, but Lemmon's character there was not as comically sinister as Professor Fate is here. Fate is totally captivated by his own ego. He certainly has engineering ability, but he is incapable of being friendly (when he is about to test out a rocket device early in the film his picture is being taken - some kids are touching the rocket, and he angrily yells at them to go away). He also is stuck with having the faithful but totally inept assistant Max (Peter Falk - who comes close to stealing the film) who constantly is pushing the wrong buttons on Fate's machines, with disastrous effects. And he is constantly trounced by the handsome, accessible, "Frank Merriwell" like "Great Leslie" (Curtis) who is far better organized, and a hell of a deal luckier.

Not that Leslie is without flaws. A man of the Edwardian period, he does not think woman are fully the equal of men. Notice that Leslie's most fair minded complement to Maggie is that her choice of a Stanley Steamer for the race was the wrong car. It is, he says, meant for picnics and Sunday drives. But, he adds, her success in getting it across half of the U.S. before the boiler gave out was quite an accomplishment...and she should be proud. The self-satisfaction is annoying as Maggie shows. I might add that in the period of the film, Stanley Steamers won several races - steam engines can build up tremendous amounts of power but they have to be replenished more frequently than gasoline engines.

Besides the four leads (five if you count the under-used Keenan Wynn) the performances of Storch and Provine were good (Provine being allowed a lively dance hall tune - "He Shouldn'ta, Hadn'ta, Oughtn'ta Swung On Me!", with Storch being unable to get the right amount of room he needs to cut loose on Curtis without falling on his face. Wood (like Provine) was given a nice tune - the charming, "Sweetheart Tree". And in the Balkan section, besides a second role for Lemmon, the conspirators George Macready and Ross Martin make the most of the "Ruritania" story - and demonstrate their own flair comedy (a rarity for Macready).

For Martin it is particularly welcome, as his last appearance under Edwards' direction was as the evil criminal in EXPERIMENT IN TERROR three years earlier. While Baron Von Stuppe (what a name - possibly a cousin to Lily Von Stuppe (Madeleine Kahn) in BLAZING SADDLES) is a villain, he is shown to be confused sometimes - see Wood threaten him with President Theodore Roosevelt's wrath, and start singing the "Star Spangled Banner". Martin doesn't know what to do with this female nut.
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" I won't say a word about our sinking. Until it reaches my lower lip, then I'm mentioning it to somebody! "
thinker169120 January 2009
This is a movie which when first shown in 1965 drew audience cheers from the very beginning and continues to draw enthusiastic praise when given special showing on college and University campuses. The reason is due perhaps that all the character roles were hand picked and each actor fitted their part like a glove. The story is based on the numerous fads, college stunts and mechanical record challenges of the early 1900s. In this story we have an automobile race which will start in New York and end up in Paris, France. The duel battle is reminiscent of the old vaudeville plays involving a Canadian Mountie and his old Nemesis Snidely Wipelash. Here we have our hero, The "Great" Leslie (Gallent III) played by Tony Curtis challenged by Prof. Fate (Jack Lemmon) to a very long race. As with early films each lead has a sidekick. Peter Falk is Max and Keenan Wynn is Hezekiah. To give it a modern era setting (1900s) Arthur O'Connel plays Henry Goodbody a Newspaper Editor interested in keep tabs on the contestants in their round the word race. Natalie Wood plays suffragette Maggie Dubois who aspires to be the first woman reporter for the Sentinental. The movie contains all the earmarks of a Classic out of the old school of comedy and thus is sympathetically dedicated to the great comedy duo of the early movie era, Laural and Hardy. To further add enjoyment throughout the film there are added Hollywood stars like Larry Storch, Ross Martin, Denver Pyle and Roy Jenson. A great film for any audience in any era. Excellent movie fare and a genuine Classic!. ****
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One of my all time favorite movies
willgadaleta17 October 2018
How does one do justice to a nearly perfect comedy? The Great Race, in my humble estimation, is simply that, a nearly perfect comedy. It is easily my favorite Blake Edwards movie and that says a lot, given his association with Peter Sellers. I won't recap the movie as other have. This movie was made in 1964, if you're reading reviews on IMDB, but haven't seen it yet, then your portfolio of film watching is seriously lacking. The premise of a New York to Paris auto race in 1908 gave Blake Edwards a broad format and an opportunity to parody and pay homage to different film genres; starting with the silent slapstick comedies of Mack Sennett, the panoramic western visas of John Ford, the classic swashbuckling adventure movies and back around again. Within the marvelous framework built by Edwards are some of the most memorable performances I've ever seen by Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Peter Falk, Keenan Wynn, Ross Martin and Larry Storch. All play their comedic roles at a perfect pitch. Lemmon and Falk performed some of the best slapstick duo comedy on film. Lemmon is brilliant in his dual roles of Prof. Fate and Prince Hoepnick. Completely different characters, yet easily two of Lemmon's best. Natalie Wood's Maggie Dubois is energetically comedic, yet full of subtleties. Maggie kissing her carrier pigeons before sending them on their way is a good example of her character development. Her affection for her little winged messengers is easily overlooked, but show wood's commitment to Maggie's character. Tony Curtis' Great Leslie is preposterously perfect. The completely calm eye at the center of this storm, yet the irritant in the eye of the other two principle characters. Much praise is heaped, deservedly, upon Jack Lemmon's performance, but Curtis' Great Leslie is also the great straight-man to Lemmon, Wood and Falk. Beyond the three principle characters, all the others performances, with the exception of Storch, are delivered marvelously. Ross Martin's Baron Von Stuppe is the epitome of roguish cool, anchoring the entire "Prisoner of Zenda" homage. His fencing duel with Curtis' Leslie is a lesson in character study. Curtis plays Leslie quietly confident throughout the duel, Modest in his considerable skills, while Martin's Von Stuppe preens and exudes confidence at the start of the duel, slowly losing it all under the realization that he is outmatched. Of course, this being a Blake Edwards film, this bad guy meets his demise absurdly, by crashing through a rowboat. If I had to critique any performance it would be Larry Storch's Texas Jack. Represented as a menacing desperado, Storch's Jack is no more menacing than his Corporal Agarn from "F-Troop". I realize his role was designed to lead into the epic saloon brawl and add comic relief to the scene, Texas Jack is probably the most distracting character in the film.
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Trivia - those unnecessary cuts
satwalker99-129 September 2008
A couple of points that I don't think have been covered:

One review mentioned this film's chequered career on TV. This is one of several classic "spectaculars" with special cinema first road runs that have suffered evisceration since their original cinema release in the name of schedules which programmers once saw as their priorities. It's a festering sore that goes back many years particularly where ITV was concerned. With the development of DVDs this hated practice has been ameliorated somewhat with many cuts having been replaced (and even extras been added). One of the earliest "victims" was Karloff's "Frankenstein" & the notorious drowning of Maria,the young child.

In my mind the most ludicrous was the case of "It's A Mad....World" where nearly 40mins was lost to TV & DVD - very significant because many of its famous comic cast were listed but never seen, though briefly. There was a restoration a couple of years back but where is it? "S Pacific" lost about 20mins and remains so. Even a restoration of Wayne's "The Alamo" still loses nearly 15mins. We expect to be able to still watch the full versions.... Now in the case of "The Great Race" how many have seen the full version with the amusing "Bouncing Ball" singalong sequence about 20mins from the end after that great Mancini theme "The Sweetheart Tree" is sung by Natalie Wood on the river bank as she strums her guitar? Tony Curtis pauses his shaving to listen. It has been missing ever since the original release(supposedly in Cinerama). Last year (I forget the channel) I was staggered to happen by accident to catch the full version. Today I watched another rerun on Channel 5 and this sequence was still missing. So the full version does exist out there - somewhere.

Natalie Wood on a couple of occasions is seen to be swimming in a pool emerging displaying her ravishing figure. It must have taken some persuasion from Blake Edwards because of her deadly fear of water - the story goes that this arose when in an early film she was the victim of a trick by the director to have her plunged into an icy stream. Of course her drowning in 1981 during the filming of "Brainstorm" (still controversial today)was all the more horrifying because of its irony.
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the best of the best
chotzinger10 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Many other comments here on the excellence of this movie, so I'll just add my 2 cents worth. No one has mentioned the greatest oneliner ever filmed. On the iceberg Pro. Fate tells Leslie that they are sinking. Leslie tells Fate to be quiet, there is no point alarming the others trapped with them. Fate mutters "Oh I'll keep it to myself alright. Until the water reaches my lower lip and then I'm gonna mention it to SOMEbody." Trivia. Natalie wanted nothing to do with Tony Curtis and insisted that her new husband Robert Wagner be given the part of the Great Leslie. The producers insisted they had to have a big name. Curtis and Lemmon had teamed up before and Curtis got the part. Wood was furious. The weather halted filming in Salzburg raining day after day while the film went spectacularly over budget. The producers fired Edwards twice and once had him arrested for trespassing when he returned to the set. Eventually, they realized that he would have to finish the movie. There was no traditional cast party after the filming was done. Supposedly when the topic was brought up, Edwards said. "What shall we do for entertainment? Watch Tony kill Natalie, or watch Natalie kill Tony?" The movie bombed at the box office. It was very long and audiences couldn't sit through 2:43 minutes despite an intermission. Terrible cut versions showed on TV before the days of VCRs. They used to start with the start of the race, skipping all the prior rivalry between Fate and Leslie, squeeze in 40-50 commercials and still finish the entire movie in 1:30 minutes. People today can't make it through a 30 minute episode of The Simsons so I'm not surprised that they think it is too long. There were probably 250 other memorable classic lines. Anyone in my extended family would instantly recognize the reference to them, including my nephew, Max. Fate: I'd like to see the Great Leslie try THAT on for size Max: Hey, Professor! Fate: Max... We're Car #5. Leslie: I have... champagne. M. Dubois: And another thing! (kicks wildly) Hezakiah: All right Lady, let's go Fate; Kids, kids, Stupid Kids. Fate: But I don't want to BE the guest of honor Fate: Push the button, Max Texas Jack: Now give me some fightin' room Fate: Lily's his girl Lily: But Jack honey, he's the guest of honor. Max: But there's a Polar bear in our car. The Baron Von Shtupp: I have a boat waiting Max & the Prof. We won! I WON! We won! I WON!
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My All-Time Favorite Film
jiix8 April 2007
Some say this movie is too long. For me, it's not long enough. I wish it crossed the three hour mark just to stick it in the eye of all the movie's detractors about the movie's length.

When they've crossed the finish line in Paris, I feel very happy being through such an enjoyable and hilarious adventure, but at the same time, I also feel sad that it's now over. Clearly the movie left it open-ended for a possible sequel after Professor Fate, feeling he had received a hollow victory, challenges the Great Leslie to another race -- Paris to New York. It's too bad this sequel never materialized.

This movie is without doubt, my all-time favorite movie -- and I like a lot of movies! The reason I say this is my favorite is that it stands up to viewing after viewing after viewing and it has never lost my interest. If anything, it has grown even more to be my favorite since I can recite so many of its wonderful, classic lines before they're said -- sort of like fans do in the cult favorite "The Rocky Horror Picture Show".

The cast was perfect. I cannot imagine ANYONE else in these roles. Just as there is only one actor that IS Superman, Christopher Reeve, and only one actress that IS Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter, so too can no other actors and actresses, other than those cast in "The Great Race", be imagined in these classic roles. Every single actor and actress in the movie delivered his performance spot-on! I enjoyed every minute of the movie.

I think "The Great Race" is a true classic. The sets and locations are wonderful -- a visual feast! From the opening scene with that beautiful red, white and blue hot-air balloon, to the Wild West locations of the American Southwest, to Potzdorf's Prince Hapnik's sumptuous palace and grounds and Baron von Stuppe's menacing castle where he sword-fights Leslie, and finally to the streets of Paris -- all great visuals one will always remember, long after the movie is over.

The costumes too, are a visual feast -- superb and sumptuous! One can really tell that they poured a lot of money into the costumes. It really shows that they definitely got their money's worth as to what ended up on the screen. The costumes of the Potzdorf nobles there at the Royal Ball when they waltz, is simply amazing. The uniforms of Potzdorf's guards too, look great. Let's not forget the great costumes back in Boracho -- from those sexy dancing showgirls in the saloon, singing "It looks to me like a big night tonight, big night tonight. When the old cat's away, all the mice want to play! And it looks like a big night tonight!" to Lilly Olay's sexy, form-fitted, yellow, satin dress as she sings, "He Shouldn't A Hadn't A Oughtn't A Swang on Me" (my favorite song in the movie. Thank you Johnny Mercer for your awesome lyrics in this song!) to all the rest of the town's residents in their authentic-looking and well-tailored Western outfits.

The film clearly had masters in the arts and science of cinematography, production design, costume design, stunts and the great Henry Mancini for the movie's great and unforgettable score. It's a shame that this movie was not recognized at Oscar time, for its great achievements in all these categories.

"The Great Race" is one very under-appreciated movie. It has the BEST pie fight scene in cinematic history; it has the BEST barroom brawl scene in cinematic history; it has one of the BEST sword-fighting scenes in cinematic history, and yet it never gets mentioned or alluded to in today's pop culture or even to be hailed by film critics as one of the greatest film comedies of all time. I am very disappointed by this. It is truly an overlooked masterpiece and perhaps someday, it may get the true recognition and respect it deserves.
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A very funny movie with one of my favorite casts from any movie I have ever seen!
w22nuschler21 July 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I cannot think of another movie where the top 5 billed stars are actors and actresses are people I love. Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Peter Falk and Keenan Wynn. Add Dorothy Provine who steals the movie with her song! I love when Tony Curtis asks her is she is a native of Baracho and she answers "I ain't no native, I was born here! This movie is just fun to watch. I think watching Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk as the funny bad guys is what makes the movie work. There are also many funny action sequences. The fight in the saloon after Dorothy Provine sings is great. Later on the pie fight is the best pie fight ever put on film. Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood also are great as the hansome leading man and beautiful leading lady. Jack Lemmon also plays a dual role in the film that is equally funny. I love it when his second character says "Raw, Raw Raw! I am a big fan of all of the main 5 actors and the comedies they have made, but this one tops anything else they have ever done. Buy the Blu Ray or DVD today!
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Flawd yes, but a gem none the less!
mouserd28 February 2019
Loved this film when I was a kid, does it still hold up?


This film bombed when it was released as it was compared to Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines which critics prefered. But I think this film is more fondly remembered than the other.

I actualy like this film more as the story can concentrates on a smaller set of characters and their clash of personalities.

The hero of the film the Great Lesly (Tony Curtis) is perfectly challenged in this film as he is outnumbered two to one. In the race by Professor Fate (Jack Lemon) and romaticly by Miss Maggie Dubois (Natalie Wood).

The extras in this film are excelently cast as well, especialy Peter Falk as Max the professors henchman. But the best cast extras have to be the two cars the Lesly Special and the Hanibal twin 8 (my dream car) complete with black powder canon.

If there is any problem with the film is that it is more than two and a half hour long and probably needed another round of editing to trim some fat, otherwise I'd give it a ten.
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A Big Budget Comedy That Sparkles
Hitchcoc3 February 2015
Some of the hottest stars of 1965 combine to produce a wonderful, comedic adventure movie in the tradition of "Around the World in Eighty Days" and "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World." Jack Lemmon is at his very best as Professor Fate, who tries to stop the irrepressible Tony Curtis (he of the sparkling teeth, the ultimate goody-two-shoes). Throw in Natalie Wood and a lot of incredible cliffhanging events, good versus evil, and you have an adventure that surpasses the aforementioned pair of movies. In this one the chemistry is excellent. While it is ridiculously outrageous, we are quickly taken into the realm of the film and it never lets up for a minute. It hearkens to the classic melodrama. At times I thought that while the sixties were one of the most explosive times in history, the movie industry was pretty sterile, especially when it came to the comedy. This one needs to be seen.
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Great film
gbill-748771 April 2017
I just love this movie. I've seen it many times over my life, and it never gets old. The contrast between squeaky-clean Tony Curtis and dastardly Jack Lemmon is wonderful, and Lemmon in particular delivers a hilarious performance, both in his main role as Professor Fate, as well as the Crown Prince of Pottsdorf later in the movie. The laughs and mannerisms of both characters are memorable. The scene in the Arctic snowstorm always cracks me up, Fate's mustache being snapped off by his henchman (Peter Falk, who's also great), and him showing he's not exactly a 'morning person' when he's asked to 'rise and shine'. Professor Fate is so bothered by everything that he'll even snarl at cute little pugs in a lavish bed. Natalie Wood is in a deceptively tricky role, needing at the same time to be funny, serious as a suffragette, and secretly attracted to Curtis as a love interest – and she absolutely shines. She's also incredibly beautiful, simply a dream, as always. The 'big' moments of slapstick in the film are done very well, including an epic pie fight and barroom brawl, but there are also a large number of 'small' moments – little lines of dialogue, inflections, and facial expressions – that keep me smiling throughout, even when I know it's silliness that would appeal to children. The film is 160 minutes but Director Blake Edwards keeps it lively, and it never drags. Great film.
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Better As Spectacle Than Comedy
dugan4918 August 2013
The Great Race has been described as live action cartoon, and that is when it's comedy is at it's most appealing. In the opening minutes Prof fate and Max (Lemmon and Falk)endure cartoonish falls, crashes and explosions, and the comparison to old WB cartoons is apt. Then we get into the plot , and as soon as the racers hit the American west, machinations of the characters take over and the slapstick falters. By the time the story reaches the mythical kingdom of Potsdorf (or something), the plot is dragging the film down badly. It mostly limps home from there.

The thing that makes the film watchable is the spectacle, faux early 20th century costuming, stunt work and attention to detail, all of which are outstanding. This is one of the better looking comedies you will ever see, with bright colors everywhere and confident and elaborate staging.

It almost doesn't matter that it's not really very funny.
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Oh Please...Lighten Up!
Keetoo10 October 2002
No disrespect to the previous summary...but for the love of MIKE!!! This person does not get it........... The Great Race is a wonderful parody of silent film comedies...even further back than the old time style of theater where the audience boo-ed the villain and cheered the hero! Watching this film is like watching a great Bugs Bunny cartoon, only with very famous live-actors! It's a HOOT!!!!! The frame of mind you need to have is just relax and have a "great" time with The Great Race. This is one of the "greats"!
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The Great Blake Edwards
enjayphx10 August 2006
I grew up on this film. It is one of those rare motion pictures that actually contains the screen warmer with music (Believe it or not so does Walt Disney's THE BLACK HOLE) and an intermission. Well Blake Edwards is known for lengthy films. The comic genius of the cast and the special effects are hysterical alone and if you like those Warner Brothers sound effects you would hear on those Bugs Bunny cartoons well you're in for a surprise as they are shamelessly used. So content and technical workmanship set The Great Race apart from most comedies of the genre. Not the mention the Technicolor! The lines are extremely quotable. Take an afternoon off to watch this one, it WILL grow on you too!
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A fun homage to films of a bygone era
bankofmarquis6 July 2018
In a tribute to films of a bygone era, Director Blake Edwards pays homage to silent film farces of the 1920's - even dedicating this film to "Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy" - with the slapstick comedy THE GREAT RACE - and succeeds, mostly.

Reteaming Tony Curtis (as the brave, virtuous and good "The Great Leslie") and Jack Lemmon (as the sinister, dastardly and evil "Professor Fate"), The Great Race is great fun watching these two cartoon characters spar and parry with each other throughout the course of this 2 hour and 40 minute farce.

Lemmon, in particular, relishes in dual roles as the menacing Fate, always dressed in black, twirling his mustache and coming up with scheme after scheme to derail Leslie (think the Coyote in the RoadRunner cartoons). His overacting and hammyness in the character is perfect for the tone that this film has set. And his maniacal laugh is one to remember - unless you are remembering the childlike guffaws of the other character Lemmon portrays, the doppelganger of Fate, Crown Prince Frederick. Both these characters are fun to watch and Fate, especially, plays well against his bumbling assistant and foil, "Max", played in utter buffoonishness by the great Peter Falk.

Joining Curtis for the "good guys" is Natalie Wood as Suffragette and Newspaper Reporter Maggie DuBois (obviously tailored after real life Suffragette and Newspaper Reporter Nellie Bly). It is said that Curtis and Wood did not get along on set (they had worked together in 2 other films and grew to dislike each other), but their on-screen chemistry cannot be ignored and they are fun together. As is the great Keenan Wynn as Leslie's mechanic and friend Hezekiah Sturdy.

But it is not the characters that makes this film go it is the set pieces and frenetic pacing that Director Edwards put before us. From thrilling chase scenes to a Western barroom brawl, to a trip through a blizzard with a polar bear to the "largest pie fight ever put on screen", this film delivers the goods in a wholesome, 1960's way that makes me truly say...

"They don't make 'em like this anymore".

8 out 10 stars and you can take that to the Bank (ofMarquis)
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