Wednesday, 28 May 2008

The Great Race

In 1908 an automobile race was run from New York to Paris. A centenary anniversary was due to be held at the end of this month until China revoked the travel permits due to the Tibet demonstrations.

However what I'm going to discuss here is the kinoscope that was loosely inspired by the original race: Blake Edward's The Great Race.

Now, it's cheesy as hell and it's characters are about a stereotypical as they come.

The hero in white

The moustachioed villain in black

The plucky heroine and suffragette

Is it steampunk? Well not as such. Certainly the concept of steampunk didn't exist in 1965 when it was made. But Professor Fate fits the mad scientist role to a T. His inventions include:


Bicycle Blimps

Rocket cars

Sonic Torpedos

And of course the Hannibal 8

The movie not only plays the foils of hero versus villain, but there's some lovely set pieces in here as well. The drivers travel through the town of Boracho (which is Spanish for "drunk") and have the classic bar room brawl. My favourite though it the lovely "homage" to Anthony Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda.

This time the country is called Carpania, where the Crown Prince Hapnik is the spitting image of Professor Fate.

There is of course a local villain, complete with goatee, who is after the throne

Whom our hero must duel.

There's a little something for everyone in film: comedy, music, dancing, fights, car chases, an explosion or two, possibly the largest pie fight ever filmed, faithful assistants, double crosses and some great music from Henry Mancini.

And the best thing of all?

Natalie Wood in her underwear, covered in custard and cream!

It's one of my favourites and one I can enjoy watching again and again.


Zoe Connolly said...

This movie is one of my guilty pleasures.

Thank you for the memories, sir.

Now let's see. I have the VHS tape of it somewhere....

Anonymous said...

"Push the button, Max!"