The Great Race


(out of 5)

Blake Edwards hits the big time with this bloated epic comedy, in which he combines his madcap style with an international setting, top-flight cast and all the set pieces that money can buy.  and  play rival daredevils who are in a constant war of one-upmanship that sees them sabotaging each other’s spectacles.  When Curtis convinces an automobile company to put itself at the head of its industry by sponsoring him in a race from New York to Paris, Lemmon joins the fray with his own sneaky contraption, assisted by his even sneakier assistant ().  co-stars in a period version of her Sex And The Single Girl character as a reporter who wants to cover the race and earn her place in journalism history but, when ignored by the competitors, decides to enter her own vehicle instead.  These characters hit the Wild West, Alaska and even enjoy a trip across the ocean in an ice floe, but between Lemmon’s desperately hammy performance (you’ve never seen him more anxious to be funny), Curtis relying so lazily on his looks, Wood’s confusion of being a movie star forced to play the token female in a disaster that engulfs her, and Edwards basically focusing on action sequences and bringing no life to the rest of it, it’s an outright mess.  Throw in a random musical number and an extraneous romance (coupled with a healthy dose of sexism: Wood’s insistence on making her mark as a female journalist is always treated as a joke) and what you have is a bewildering mess that is nearly impossible to sit through, an attempt to recreate the magic of Around The World In 80 Days (such as it was) with more emphasis on food fights than exotic scenery.  I’d rather sit through Mickey Rooney in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, that’s how awful this is.

USA, 1965

Directed by

Original story by Blake Edwards, , Screenplay by Arthur A. Ross

Cinematography by

Produced by

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Cast Tags:  , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Academy Award
Best Sound Effects (Tregoweth Brown)

Best Cinematography (Colour) (Russell Harlan)
Best Film Editing (Ralph E. Winters)
Best Music (Song) (“The Sweetheart Tree”, music by Henry Mancini; lyrics by Johnny Mercer)
Best Sound (Warner Bros. Studio Sound Department, George R. Groves, sound director)

Golden Globe Award Nominations
Best Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical
Best Performance By An Actor in a Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical (Jack Lemmon)
Best Original Song-Motion Picture (“The Sweetheart Tree”, music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Johnny Mercer)
Best Original Score-Motion Picture (Henry Mancini)

Writers Guild Award Nomination
Best Written American Drama



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