The Great Race
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The Great Race

160 min | Spain:146 min (DVD edition)
Action | Adventure | Comedy | Family | Musical | Romance | Sport | Western
IMDB rate:
Blake Edwards
Won Oscar. Another 3 wins & 12 nominations
Country: USA
Release Date: 1965-07-01
Filming Locations: Salzburg Cathedral, Salzburg, Austria
Budget: $12,000,000
Gross: $25,333,333 (USA) Rentals $11,400,000 (USA)
Jack Lemmon
Professor Fate
Tony Curtis
The Great Leslie
Natalie Wood
Maggie Dubois
Peter Falk
Maximilian Meen
Keenan Wynn
Hezekiah Sturdy
Arthur O'Connell
Henry Goodbody
Vivian Vance
Hester Goodbody
Dorothy Provine
Lily Olay
Larry Storch
Texas Jack
Ross Martin
Baron Rolfe Von Stuppe
George Macready
General Kuhster
Marvin Kaplan
Hal Smith
Mayor of Boracho
Denver Pyle
William Bryant
Baron's Guard
Ken Wales
Baron's Guard
Victor Adamson
Barfly (uncredited)
Richard Alexander
Barfly (uncredited)
Leon Alton
Townsman (uncredited)
Brandon Beach
Man in Hallway at Sentinel (uncredited)
Herman Belmonte
Barfly (uncredited)
Greg Benedict
Soldier (uncredited)
Bill Borzage
Townsman (uncredited)
Paul Bryar
Policeman (uncredited)
Robert Carson
Vice Chairman (uncredited)
Bill Catching
Saloon Brawler (uncredited)
Frank Ellis
Barfly (uncredited)
Joe Ferrante
Barfly (uncredited)
George Ford
Man in Hallway at Sentinel (uncredited)
Charles Fredericks
Master of Ceremonies (uncredited)
Sol Gorss
Saloon Brawler (uncredited)
Silver Harr
Barfly (uncredited)
Sam Harris
Man in Hallway at Sentinel (uncredited)
Harry Harvey
Executive Board Member (uncredited)
Al Haskell
Barfly (uncredited)
Chester Hayes
Man in Bear Suit (uncredited)
Chuck Hayward
Soldier (uncredited)
Bob Herron
Palace Guard (uncredited)
Chuck Hicks
Saloon Brawler (uncredited)
Charles Horvath
Texas Jack's Henchman / Baker in Pie Fight (uncredited)
Clegg Hoyt
Man in Saloon (uncredited)
Roy Jenson
Saloon Brawler (uncredited)
Kenner G. Kemp
Townsman (uncredited)
Patricia King
Woman in West (uncredited)
Frank Kreig
Starter (uncredited)
Mike Lally
Bettor (uncredited)
Philo McCullough
Townsman (uncredited)
Francis McDonald
Russian (uncredited)
Rod McGaughy
Barfly (uncredited)
King Mojave
Reporter (uncredited)
Boyd 'Red' Morgan
Saloon Brawler (uncredited)
Richard Mosier
Boy Eating Popcorn (uncredited)
Hal Needham
Saloon Brawler (uncredited)
Joyce Nizzari
Woman in West (uncredited)
Noble "Kid" Chissell
Auto Worker (uncredited)
Joe Palma
Conductor (uncredited)
Harvey Parry
Cowboy Shooting Gun in Saloon (uncredited)
Gil Perkins
Saloon Brawler (uncredited)
Jack Perkins
Texas Jack Henchman (uncredited)
Fred Rapport
Barfly (uncredited)
Raoul Retzer
Mayor-Domo (uncredited)
Hal Riddle
Baker (uncredited)
Christopher Riordan
Cowboy / Dancer (uncredited)
Robert Robinson
Barfly (uncredited)
Danny Sands
Barfly (uncredited)
Maria Schroeder
Woman in Tobelsk (uncredited)
Jerry Schumacher
Auto Worker (uncredited)
Charles Seel
Freight Agent (uncredited)
Sarah Selby
Townswoman (uncredited)
Alex Sharp
Saloon Brawler (uncredited)
Johnny Silver
Baker (uncredited)
Carl Sklover
Townsman (uncredited)
Paul Smith
First Employee (uncredited)
Tom Smith
Barfly (uncredited)
Robert R. Stephenson
Bishop at Coronation (uncredited)
Bert Stevens
Townsman (uncredited)
Art Stewart
Frank D. Strong
Trombonist in Marching Band (uncredited)
Arthur Tovey
Reporter (uncredited)
George Tracy
Barfly (uncredited)
John Truax
Prison Guard (uncredited)
Dale Van Sickel
Driver-Contestant in Green Car, #3 (uncredited)
Max Wagner
Barfly (uncredited)
Did you know?
Charlton Heston was originally offered the role of The Great Leslie. He considered it a "funny script" but had to turn the part down when the production schedule for The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) was delayed. Tony Curtis then got the part.
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When Prof. Fate, Max and Maggie DuBois drive into the Russian town, Maggie repeats to the professor what she had already argued in her first interview with The Great Leslie, that she speaks French, Russian and Arabic. She then speaks a full sentence to the townspeople in Russian. Natalie Wood, who plays Maggie DuBois, was of Russian descent (her real name is Natasha Gurdin) and spoke fluent Russian.
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As mentioned above ("Borracho", pronounced the same way, means "drunkard" in Spanish) Hal Smith who was the mayor of Borracho also was Otis the drunk on "The Andy Griffith Show.
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In the scene on the beach in the tent when Leslie and Maggie DuBois drink champagne, Leslie puts on a phonograph record of "The Desert Song." The film is set in about 1908; "The Desert Song" did not premiere until 1926.
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When Fate first reveals the Hannibal Twin 8 to Max, the camera pulls back to a wide shot. To change from the dramatic lighting of the close up, you can see many more off-camera lights being switched on to light up the entire garage for the reveal of the car.
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Towards the beginning of the race where Professor Fate and Max put out their engine fire with the foamy fire extinguisher, Max gets his long scarf snagged on the front of the car. The scene cuts to the approaching car of Maggie Dubois momentarily, then quickly cuts back to Max, whose scarf is now completely untangled and arranged neatly around his neck.
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General: When we get back to the palace, you must trim your mustache. You must look exactly like the prince. Can you laugh?
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Maggie DuBois: You mean amazing because I'm a woman.
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Baron von Stuppe: Well, Mr. Leslie. I had expected to see you again, but... eh... Not with a sword in your hand. Are you partial to the foil?
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What happened to the cars driven by The Great Leslie and Professor Fate? Were they real cars? Are they still around?
"The Leslie Special" and "The Hannibal Twin 8" cars were custom built for the movie and were fully driveable. As is often the standard procedure for movie and television productions, multiple versions of each were produced, including at least 2 "Leslie Specials" and at least 5 "Hannibal Twin 8's". As of April, 2014, one of "The Leslie Special's" can be seen in The Tupelo Auto Museum in Tupelo, Mississippi, and one of the "Hannibal Twin 8" cars (along with Professor Fate's lake torpedo) can be seen in The Hollywood Gallery of The Peterson Auto Museum in Los Angeles, California. In addition, both a "Leslie Special and a "Hannibal Twin 8" can also be seen at the Stahls Automotive Foundation Museum in Chesterfield, Michigan.
Is this movie based an an actual event?
Yes. The movie was inspired by an actual New York to Paris road race known as "The Great Auto Race of 1908" that began in Times Square on February 12, 1908. There were six cars entered representing 4 countries- The United States, Germany, France, and Italy. The actual race took 169 days and The United States won. As far as being historically accurate, Director Blake Edwards primarily used only the time period (1908) and a rough approximation of the race route for "The Great Race" movie. Most of the other memorable elements from the film- the zany over-the-top characters, the many fantastic vehicles and gadgets, and incidents such as crossing the ocean on an ice floe and the gigantic pie fight- were products of Edward's fertile imagination.
Was "The Great Race" eventually turned into a cartoon series?
Yes and no. Although Blake Edwards and Warner Bros. were never involved in producing a "Great Race" cartoon series, Hanna-Barbera Productions did produce a Saturday morning cartoon series called "Wacky Races" that ran from 1968 to 1970. This cartoon series was inspired by and borrowed heavily from "The Great Race" film, and even featured characters that strongly resembled those in the movie in both appearance and personality- in particular, "Penelope Pitstop" (based on Natalie Wood's "Maggie Dubois") "Peter Perfect" (based on Tony Curtis' "Great Leslie"), and "Dick Dastardly and Muttley" (based on Jack Lemmon's "Professor Fate" and Peter Falk's "Max", respectively).
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Photos from cast
J. Edward McKinley
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