The world is still flying high with Top Gun: Maverick, the definition of a great summer blockbuster that pleases all classes. The verisimilitude of the flying scenes provides a large slice of credibility, not least because they appear real in a way that few action movies can match. But it’s not the only example of cinema striving for super-charged reality; 1966’s Grand Prix went above and beyond to capture the intense drama of motor-racing, and the results still look smart today.
Brevity isn’t part of the package; John Frankenheimer’s epic comes in at a cumbersome 176 minutes, but if you can manage the length, there’s plenty of rewards for patient viewers. Making full use of widescreen and split-screen formats, Frankenheimer creates an impressive sense of realism about the sports action, with James Garner as Peter Aron, who has to balance his feelings of guilt about another driver’s injury with his drive to win at all costs.
The international cast features Yves Montand, Toshiro Mifune and a somewhat damp squib of a romantic interest in Eva Marie Saint, and some of the off-track chicanery has dated badly. Grand Prix used to be a tv staple, but broadcasters were forced to toggle between pan and scan for the human drama and widescreen for the action, only deepening the divide between on-track slickness and some tedious human narratives.
But who cares when the racing sequences are so thrilling, brilliantly filmed and exciting? That’s particularly because the technology of the actual cars appears so primitive by today’s standards; Grand Prix racing looks pretty dangerous on this evidence, and its no surprise to learn that many of the drivers involved in filming were no longer with us within years of the film’s release.
Saw this in 70mm Cinerama and 6-track sound a couple of years back and it was absolutley riveting.
I’ll bet. Back in the days before widescreen, seeing this in tv and being wowed by the split screen and properly aspect rationed action scenes really blew my mind. The story is nothing great, but the film-making is amazing. If I could see this in 70mm, I’d be ahead of you in the queue for tickets.
What in tarnation is going on with your blog??? This thing is in yesterdays bit of WP and I nearly missed it.
Unless you delete this post n write a new one the reader will keep it at yesterday’s place. Fyi…
This is enarly as bad as unable to comment on the actual blog! 🙄
fek. NEARLY not enarly, though enarly has a nice ring to it, might have to find a use for that!
I’m using it from now on! It’s enarly days yet, but it might catch on. Grand Prix is showing as the most recent entry when I look at the blog, don’t you read every single entry every day? I’m just broken hearted at the lack of a picture quiz…
Too enarly for jokes.
Have you posted today’s missive yet? No sign of it on today’s reader.
It’s up! New Stallone movie dropped on Prime yesterday!
Yes I just read someone else’s review enarlier, sounds good I’ll be doing it tonight. I’ll see if I can find yours.
You’ll be one of the enarlierst to see this movie!
I’m pretty sure this is happening because he wrote this on something other than his computer (I think he mentioned something about it during one of his edinburgh posts).
Yup, back rest assured, I’m back on earth and will aim to correct this to avoid any customer satisfaction. If I post a piece on my phone, or create several drafts at once, WP seems to backdate them to when they were created rather than published. Full refunds are possible; just send me your bank details to ensure disappointment.
No worries, I’m disappointed on a daily basis when I read the movies you watch!
* ba dum tish *
It’s not the movies, it’s the way I write about them .
Ba dum tish
Good grief, the comedian’s a bear.
Fozzie; no I’m a not, I’m a wearing a necktie.
I beg to differ. It IS the movies.
and I would think of a clever muppets comment about backs but can’t think of one at the moment.
Oh yeah? So there!
I don’t actually make the movies, I just write about them. Fact!
and they STILL disappoint me.
You should probably call your agent and tell him you need to take over the movie writers’ jobs, as they’re really falling down on the job…
Says the man whose idea of cutting edge cinema is The Muppets Treasure Island. I’m not saying I don’t like it, of course I do, but…
Just what are you implying? That the Muppets aren’t cutting edge humor and awesome plotsauce?
Sir, I throw down the gauntlet and slap you in the face with it. Would you prefer lochabar axes or 75lb manhole covers as your weapon of choice? I’ll see you at the Mediocre Corral at dawn tomorrow!
Mediocre Corral. That’s funny. Have you ever thought of writing a blog?
Say, that’s a fantastic idea!
How much can I sign you up for?
Big money! I just need your bank details to complete the transaction…
Ahhh, an anonymous cash donation. Perfect. Will you be sending that in dollars, euros or haggis?
A mix of the 3. Now I just need the three numbers on the back of your card…
is that it?
I hope so…
Me too. Or Mr Abooboo is NOT going to be very happy…
Probably the horse wrote it.
I see the dreaded scheduler has struck again! This is showing up in my feed as if it was published yesterday at 5am my time instead of today.
From Formula 1 to Nascar, I’ve never understood car racing. I have an uncle who was/is passionately into formula 1 and my goodness, I was always sooooooo bored when he’d start talking about. What was worse, he was a video taper from the vhs days and had “clips” of all his favorites and would show them at the drop of a hat. It was worse than an old lady showing you pictures of her grand kids!
I have zero interest in car pointing. It’s dull. Like car chases and driving, but it’s boring to watch. And people who go on about it are boring.
I’ve republished this with Alex’s correction. Any better?
I hadn’t seen that your editor had gone over this. I’ll check my feed in a bit but I suspect that won’t help.
Never had any interest in this “sport.” Even duller than golf. Can’t think of any racing car movies I’ve seen aside from Talladega Nights.
I won race in Charlottesville, but the other racers turned out to be under ten. Fact!