The Great Race

1965

The Great Race

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

74%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 23

83%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,775
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Movie Info

Tony Curtis stars as The Great Leslie, a hero among heroes whose purity of heart is manifested by his spotlessly white wardrobe. Leslie's great rival, played by Jack Lemmon, is Professor Fate, a scowling, mustachioed, top-hatted, black-garbed villain. Long envious of Leslie's record-setting accomplishments with airships and sea craft, Professor Fate schemes to win a 22,000-mile auto race from New York City to Paris by whatever insidious means possible. The problem is that Fate is his own worst enemy: each of his plans to remove Leslie from the running (and from the face of the earth) backfires. Leslie's own cross to bear is suffragette Maggie Dubois (Natalie Wood), who also hopes to win the contest and thus strike a blow for feminism. The race takes all three contestants to the Wild West, the frozen wastes of Alaska, and, in the longest sequence, the mythical European kingdom of Carpania. This last-named country is the setting for a wild Prisoner of Zenda spoof involving Professor Fate and his look-alike, the foppish Carpanian king. When Leslie and Fate approach the finish line at the Eiffel Tower, Leslie deliberately loses to prove his love for Maggie. Professor Fate cannot stand winning under these circumstances, thus he demands that he and Leslie race back to New York. The supporting cast includes Peter Falk as Fate's long-suffering flunkey Max, Keenan Wynn as Leslie's faithful general factotum, Dorothy Provine as a brassy saloon singer, Larry Storch as ill-tempered bandit Texas Jack, and Ross Martin as Baron Von Stuppe. The film also yielded a hit song, Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer's The Sweetheart Tree. The Great Race was dedicated to "Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy".

Cast

Tony Curtis
as The Great Leslie
Jack Lemmon
as Prof. Fate
Natalie Wood
as Maggie DuBois
Arthur O'Connell
as Henry Goodbody
Keenan Wynn
as Hezekiah
Vivian Vance
as Hester Goodbody
Dorothy Provine
as Lily Olay
Larry Storch
as Texas Jack
Ross Martin
as Baron Rolfe Von Stuppe
George Macready
as Gen. Kuhster
Hal Smith
as Mayor of Boracho
Denver Pyle
as Sheriff
William Bryant
as Baron's Guard
Ken Wales
as Baron's Guard
Maria Schroeder
as Woman in Tobelsk
Patricia King
as Woman in Western Scene
Joyce Nizzari
as Woman in Western Scene
Robert S. Carson
as Vice Chairman
Frank Kreig
as Starter
Paul L. Smith
as Employee
Charles Steel
as Freight Agent
Joe Palma
as Conductor
Paul Bryar
as Policeman
Chester Hayes
as Man in Bear Suit
John Truax
as Prison Guard
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Critic Reviews for The Great Race

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (2) | Fresh (17) | Rotten (6)

Audience Reviews for The Great Race

  • Apr 01, 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.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 10, 2011
    The film does drag on somewhat slowly, it makes up for it for one lone reason and one lone reason only, JACK LEMMON AS PROFESSOR FATE!!! He is so damn funny to watch, and I think the comedy on how he acts comes from the Looney Tunes, particularly Daffy Duck, who I am inspired by quite a bit as well, and it really works with the comedy on this character, and is hysterical. The only thing I disliked about this film was Tony Curtis, mainly because how wooden he acts in this film, but I think it was intentional, I think he was trying to just act like that because he is just a stereotypical attractive dude that is just a character with no attitude or emotion., But Jack Lemmon works off of him so hysterically well, and he is someone who you just want to actually see win and not Tony Curtis.
    Michael E Super Reviewer
  • Aug 08, 2011
    The fun of this tribute (of sorts) to the old silent films is watching the cast simply live it up. Curtis gets to hero it, Wood gets to sexy all American girl it, and Lemmon and the recently deceased Falk get to revel as the very bad guy and his untrustworthy assistant it. Plenty of shining moments by supporting actors in what is without a doubt one deliberately silly film, yes, but fun.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 16, 2011
    I didn't know it was a kids movie when I started, but I really, really liked it. Why? Because Jack Lemmon is a comic genius and made me crack up more than I was ever expecting. Parallel only to the ever charming Natalie Woods and the oddly suave Tony Curtis. It was a bit long, but the comedy and hijinks were so crazy that I didn't mind it! This is something that if I ever had kids, would have them watch. Loved it. And I would totally watch this again. Oh, and greatest pie fight EVER.
    Jennifer D Super Reviewer

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