Grand Prix


2h 59m 1966
Grand Prix

Brief Synopsis

Auto racers find danger and romance at the legendary European road race.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Sports
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
New York opening: 21 Dec 1966
Production Company
Cherokee Productions; JFP Productions; Joel Productions
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 59m
Sound
70 mm 6-Track (Westrex Recording System) (70 mm prints), Mono (35 mm prints)
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.20 : 1

Synopsis

Foremost among the drivers vying for fame and fortune in the 9-race competition for the World Championship of Drivers are American Pete Aron, Britisher Scott Stoddard, Corsican Jean-Pierre Sarti, and Sicilian Nino Barlini. During the first race in Monaco, a smashup hurls Aron's car into the Monte Carlo harbor and sends Stoddard crashing into a cliffside wall. Although Aron is able to swim away from his wreck, it appears unlikely that Stoddard will ever race--or walk--again; and Aron is held accountable. At a party following the event, Sarti, whose marriage has lost all of its meaning and passion, becomes attracted to Louise Frederickson, a fashion magazine editor, and the young Nino takes up with a vivacious young Frenchwoman named Lisa who follows along with him to the other races. After the French Grand Prix at Clermont-Ferrand, which Sarti wins, Aron agrees to race for a Japanese industrialist, Izo Yamura; he also begins an illicit affair with Stoddard's bored young wife, Pat. During the race in Belgium, which Aron eventually wins, Sarti's car skids on the wet track, crashes off the road, and kills two children. The disaster has a lasting effect upon Sarti's emotional stability. Aron again wins at the German Grand Prix, but Stoddard, despite his still unhealed injuries, returns for the Dutch Grand Prix and scores an amazing victory. He repeats his triumph at Watkins Glen in the United States and again at the Mexican meet. At the British event in Brands Hatch, however, he buckles from pain and loses to Nino. By now Sarti and Louise are openly living together, but Aron and Pat have parted. At the final race in Monza, Italy, the point totals show Nino leading, one ahead of Sarti and Stoddard and two ahead of Aron. During the event Sarti dies in a terrible accident which so stuns Nino that he removes his foot from the gas pedal. Stoddard finishes a close second to Aron and also gets a second chance to save his marriage to Pat. As Aron is crowned the victor amid the throngs of cheering fans, he somehow feels strangely alone.

Crew

Frank Agnone

Props master

Association Sportive De L'automobile Club D'auvergne "circuit De Montagne D'auvergne"

Racing seq filmed with the coöp of

Association Sportive De L'automobile Club De L'ouest "24 Heures Du Mans"

Racing seq filmed with the coöp of

Robert Alan Aurthur

Screen story & Screenplay

Automobile Club Di Palermo (sicily) "targa Florio"

Racing seq filmed with the coöp of

Saul Bass

Visual consultant, montages & titles

Henry Berman

Film Editor

Joakim Bonnier

Racing adv

Brands Hatch Circuit Limited

Racing seq filmed with the coöp of

British Racing Drivers' Club (silverstone)

Racing seq filmed with the coöp of

Roy Charman

Sound Recording

Comité D'organisation Du Grand Prix De Monaco "xxivme Grand Prix De Monaco 1966"

Racing seq filmed with the coöp of

Peter Crowhurst

Prod Manager (england)

Gordon Daniel

Sound Editing

Douglas & Lewis

Company

Jean-georges Fontenelle

2nd unit Photographer

Frick Enterprises

Racing camera mounts Executive by

James Garner

Executive Producer

Richie Ginther

Racing adv

Sam Gorodisky

Prod Manager (italy)

Sydney Guilaroff

Costume selected & supervised, hairstyles & makeup created by

Phil Hill

Racing adv

Enrico Isacco

Assistant Director

Maurice Jarre

Music comp & Conductor

Sacha Kamenka

Prod Manager (monaco & france)

William Kaplan

Unit Production Manager

Koninklijke Nederlandsche Automobiel Club In Cooperation With Nederlandse Autorensport Vereniging (c

Racing seq filmed with the coöp of

Giuliano Laurenti

Makeup

Yann Le Masson

2nd unit Photographer

Edward Lewis

Producer

Stewart Linder

Film Editor

Lionel Lindon

Director of Photography

Alfio Meniconi

Makeup

Franklin Milton

Sound Recording

Milt Rice

Special Effects

Royal Automobile Club "british Grand Prix"

Racing seq filmed with the coöp of

Royal Automobile Club De Belgique (circuit De Francorchamps) "grand Prix De Belgique 1966"

Racing seq filmed with the coöp of

Frank Santillo

Film Editor

Carroll Shelby

Tech cons

Fredric Steinkamp

Film Editor

John M. Stephens

2nd unit Photographer

Richard Sylbert

Production Design

Watkins Glen Grand Prix Corporation "united States Grand Prix"

Racing seq filmed with the coöp of

Photo Collections

Grand Prix - Movie Posters
Grand Prix - Movie Posters

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Sports
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
New York opening: 21 Dec 1966
Production Company
Cherokee Productions; JFP Productions; Joel Productions
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 59m
Sound
70 mm 6-Track (Westrex Recording System) (70 mm prints), Mono (35 mm prints)
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.20 : 1

Award Wins

Best Editing

1966

Best Sound

1966

Best Sound Effects Sound Editing

1966

Articles

Grand Prix


Hollywood has always had a love affair with fast cars. If you've ever been stuck in L.A. traffic, it's easy to understand why. Who wouldn't yearn to tear past the other cars, leaving your fellow drivers to cower in your wake, and pedestrians to stare open-mouthed at your car as it blows past them in a blur, covering their ears from the deafening roar as they at once fear and marvel at your power? It is that feeling exactly that John Frankenheimer sought to capture on film with Grand Prix (1966).

In order "to show what racing was really like," Frankenheimer molded an amalgam of events and drivers into the story of Pete Aron, played by James Garner. After causing an accident at the Monaco Grand Prix that injures colleague Scott Stoddard (Brian Bedford), Aron is fired from his team. Literally adding insult to injury, Aron takes up with Stoddard's wife, Pat (Jessica Walter), who is bored by her husband's "brooding-in-the-shadow-of-my-dead-brother" routine. Along with all this, we are introduced to Jean-Pierre Sarti (Yves Montand), a two-time world champion on the brink of retirement, and his lover, Louise Frederickson (Eva Marie Saint), a magazine editor who is touring the racing circuit. Aron eventually finds another job with a Japanese team and, after earning back his reputation with a few wins, finds himself in competition with Stoddard and Sarti for the world championship at the British Grand Prix. As could be expected, a tight race ensues with plenty of thrills, chills, and spills, before a final victor emerges from the big event.

Grand Prix is Frankenheimer's first color film, and his first original screenplay since The Young Stranger (1957). Having been an amateur racer himself, Frankenheimer is intensely passionate about the subject, calling Grand Prix "one of the most satisfactory films I've made." Shot in 70mm Cinerama, Frankenheimer used the wide space to his advantage with a creative use of split-screen - an idea he got from the film To Be Alive at the New York World's fair, and from watching the World Series on television. To further the visual experience, Frankenheimer and cinematographer Lionel Lindon used specially constructed cameras mounted on the racing cars, which put us on the track with the drivers. By combining the "on-track" footage with helicopter shots of the cars in a split-screen action sequence, Frankenheimer combats the monotony of racing cars merely driving around in circles.

To achieve the level of realism that Frankenheimer wanted, there were no "process shots" used in the film. All scenes, whether they involved racing or not, used real cars with mounted cameras. For the spectacular crashes, special effects man Milton Rice created a hydrogen cannon, which functioned as a giant pea-shooter. A car could be attached to a shaft on the cannon, and then "shot" out like a projectile at speeds in excess of 125 miles an hour. The cannon was so effective it was used for all the crash shots, including the wreck at the beginning of the film at the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. On an oddly prophetic note, Lorenzo Bandini, a driver who helped stage the crash at Monte Carlo in the film, was later killed in exactly the same place in a crash at a subsequent Monte Carlo Grand Prix.

The production schedule for Grand Prix was a race in itself. Frankenheimer began shooting in May, and wrapped the first week of October. By December 21, 1966, Grand Prix was in the theaters. Though a relative success, Frankenheimer has said he felt the film would have done better had he been able to cast Steve McQueen, his first choice for the James Garner role. Garner was, in fact, Frankenheimer's third choice behind Robert Redford. But casting decisions aside, Frankenheimer's enthusiasm and passion for racing comes across on screen, as the action doesn't merely race past you but straps you into the driver's seat. Grand Prix didn't race past the Academy either, earning three Oscars for Best Sound Effects (by Gordon Daniel), Best Editing, and Best Sound.

Producer: Edward Lewis
Director: John Frankenheimer
Screenplay: Robert Alan Arthur
Production Design: Richard Sylbert
Cinematography: Lionel Lindon
Film Editing: Henry Berman, Stewart Linder, Frank Santillo
Original Music: Maurice Jarre
Principal Cast: James Garner (Pete Aron), Eva Marie Saint (Louise Frederickson), Yves Montand (Jean-Pierre Sarti), Toshiro Mifune (Izo Yamura), Brian Bedford (Scott Stoddard), Jessica Walter (Pat Stoddard), Francoise Hardy (Lisa), Antonio Sabato (Nino Barlini), Genevieve Page (Monique Delvaux-Smith), Claude Dauphin (Hugo Simon)
C-170m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Bill Goodman
Grand Prix

Grand Prix

Hollywood has always had a love affair with fast cars. If you've ever been stuck in L.A. traffic, it's easy to understand why. Who wouldn't yearn to tear past the other cars, leaving your fellow drivers to cower in your wake, and pedestrians to stare open-mouthed at your car as it blows past them in a blur, covering their ears from the deafening roar as they at once fear and marvel at your power? It is that feeling exactly that John Frankenheimer sought to capture on film with Grand Prix (1966). In order "to show what racing was really like," Frankenheimer molded an amalgam of events and drivers into the story of Pete Aron, played by James Garner. After causing an accident at the Monaco Grand Prix that injures colleague Scott Stoddard (Brian Bedford), Aron is fired from his team. Literally adding insult to injury, Aron takes up with Stoddard's wife, Pat (Jessica Walter), who is bored by her husband's "brooding-in-the-shadow-of-my-dead-brother" routine. Along with all this, we are introduced to Jean-Pierre Sarti (Yves Montand), a two-time world champion on the brink of retirement, and his lover, Louise Frederickson (Eva Marie Saint), a magazine editor who is touring the racing circuit. Aron eventually finds another job with a Japanese team and, after earning back his reputation with a few wins, finds himself in competition with Stoddard and Sarti for the world championship at the British Grand Prix. As could be expected, a tight race ensues with plenty of thrills, chills, and spills, before a final victor emerges from the big event. Grand Prix is Frankenheimer's first color film, and his first original screenplay since The Young Stranger (1957). Having been an amateur racer himself, Frankenheimer is intensely passionate about the subject, calling Grand Prix "one of the most satisfactory films I've made." Shot in 70mm Cinerama, Frankenheimer used the wide space to his advantage with a creative use of split-screen - an idea he got from the film To Be Alive at the New York World's fair, and from watching the World Series on television. To further the visual experience, Frankenheimer and cinematographer Lionel Lindon used specially constructed cameras mounted on the racing cars, which put us on the track with the drivers. By combining the "on-track" footage with helicopter shots of the cars in a split-screen action sequence, Frankenheimer combats the monotony of racing cars merely driving around in circles. To achieve the level of realism that Frankenheimer wanted, there were no "process shots" used in the film. All scenes, whether they involved racing or not, used real cars with mounted cameras. For the spectacular crashes, special effects man Milton Rice created a hydrogen cannon, which functioned as a giant pea-shooter. A car could be attached to a shaft on the cannon, and then "shot" out like a projectile at speeds in excess of 125 miles an hour. The cannon was so effective it was used for all the crash shots, including the wreck at the beginning of the film at the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. On an oddly prophetic note, Lorenzo Bandini, a driver who helped stage the crash at Monte Carlo in the film, was later killed in exactly the same place in a crash at a subsequent Monte Carlo Grand Prix. The production schedule for Grand Prix was a race in itself. Frankenheimer began shooting in May, and wrapped the first week of October. By December 21, 1966, Grand Prix was in the theaters. Though a relative success, Frankenheimer has said he felt the film would have done better had he been able to cast Steve McQueen, his first choice for the James Garner role. Garner was, in fact, Frankenheimer's third choice behind Robert Redford. But casting decisions aside, Frankenheimer's enthusiasm and passion for racing comes across on screen, as the action doesn't merely race past you but straps you into the driver's seat. Grand Prix didn't race past the Academy either, earning three Oscars for Best Sound Effects (by Gordon Daniel), Best Editing, and Best Sound. Producer: Edward Lewis Director: John Frankenheimer Screenplay: Robert Alan Arthur Production Design: Richard Sylbert Cinematography: Lionel Lindon Film Editing: Henry Berman, Stewart Linder, Frank Santillo Original Music: Maurice Jarre Principal Cast: James Garner (Pete Aron), Eva Marie Saint (Louise Frederickson), Yves Montand (Jean-Pierre Sarti), Toshiro Mifune (Izo Yamura), Brian Bedford (Scott Stoddard), Jessica Walter (Pat Stoddard), Francoise Hardy (Lisa), Antonio Sabato (Nino Barlini), Genevieve Page (Monique Delvaux-Smith), Claude Dauphin (Hugo Simon) C-170m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Bill Goodman

Grand Prix (2-disc Special Edition) - James Garner and an International All-Star Cast in John Frankenheimer's GRAND PRIX - 2-Disc Special Edition on DVD


Grand Prix is unique among 1960s Roadshow spectacles. Director John Frankenheimer had veered into the realm of political and technological fantasy with films like The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May and Seconds. Much of this racing saga is instead an exercise in technique like Frankenheimer's The Train, where Burt Lancaster played smash-up with real French railway hardware. Grand Prix posed a man's (or boy's) challenge: To capture the thrills of top-level Formula One racing in a way that puts the audience right into the driver's seat. Indeed, perhaps the most relevant dialogue line in the "dramatic" part of the movie is when Eva Marie Saint turns to Yves Montand and observes that the racetrack spectators don't seem to get a very good look at the action. Grand Prix does one thing exceedingly well, and that's give each viewer the experience of zooming down a track at 180 mph, in a car barely larger than a bathtub.

Synopsis: At the Grand Prix of Monaco, Jordan-BRM teammate Scott Stoddard (Brian Bedford) has a near-fatal accident for which he faults American Pete Aron (James Garner), a driver noted for being too aggressive. Scott is sidelined to recover, a disability his wife Pat (Jessica Walter) uses to start an affair with Pete. Meanwhile, sponsor-less Pete is forced to become a TV reporter until Japanese racing boss Izo Yamura (Toshirô Mifune) hires him to drive again -- but only if Aron pulls out all stops to win. French racer Jean-Pierre Sarti (Yves Montand) is at an age where he's tired of racing and fed up with his bad marriage to Monique (Geneviève Page); he takes up with American photojournalist Louise Frederickson (Eva Marie Saint). And Jean-Pierre's Sicilian teammate Nino Barlini (Antonio Sabàto) enjoys himself with a quick racetrack pickup, Lisa (Françoise Hardy).

Grand Prix combines the roller coaster of This is Cinerama! with impressive technical ingenuity. It could have been titled Grand Camera Mounts, as the most arresting images come from 70mm cameras rigged right on the moving race cars. Besides giving us a dizzying blur of motion on the Super Panavision 70 screen (Super Cinerama in Cinerama ® Theaters), the camera can pan from a sideways view of the driver to a forward view looking over the right front tire. On a big screen, the experience is like being strapped into a rocket. On the steep banking of the Monza race course the car-mounted camera remains level while the car tilts 40° to one side. In theaters one could observe the entire audience tilting their heads and laughing in wonder. This "viewer participation" phenomenon must have inspired Stanley Kubrick and/or Douglas Trumbull to come up with the Star Gate slit-scan "trip" in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The featurettes and docus on this Special Edition detail the means by which Frankenheimer achieved his specific racing effects. Several of his actors were car enthusiasts or had racing experience so we're frequently treated to real shots of James Garner or Yves Montand blazing through the curves. Expert editing and some acceptable split-screen work add to the effect, aided by dizzying helicopter shots that twist with the cars as they negotiate the streets of Monaco. Grand Prix expends most of Frankenheimer's tricks in the first twenty-minute racing scene, and succeeding races are either abbreviated or augmented with visual themes. For one race, Maurice Jarre's music takes over and Saul Bass's split-screen visuals give us a soft-focus reverie of racing images.

Earlier racing films had followed the lead of aviation pictures: Give 'em one big action scene at the beginning, another at the end and fill the middle with montages. Executive producer Kirk Douglas made a Fox film called The Racers in 1955; its "big crash" in the opening race happens when somebody's French poodle wanders onto the track! Other racing car movies tended toward melodramatic plots, with drivers avenging the deaths of martyred brothers or going berserk on the track while competing for the attentions of the leading lady. The most ridiculous example is a Clark Gable show about midget car racing, To Please a Lady. Just seeing Gable crammed into his tiny, inconsequential-looking speedster is hilarious.

Grand Prix labors nobly to dramatize the love lives of its racing car drivers. We have two illicit affairs, a driver obsessed with living up to the legacy of his dead brother, an aging warrior stuck between an unforgiving wife (Geneviève Page of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes) and a domineering boss (Adolfo Celi), an ambitious American and a jet-setting Sicilian swinger. Frankenheimer does his best to promote a glitzy continental sophistication to all of these complications but is defeated by a basic rule of blockbuster filming: It all has to be in English. Thus we're deprived of the Formula One circuit's multilingual European atmosphere.

Newcomers Antonio Sabàto and Françoise Hardy aren't great actors in their native languages and appear to have been coached like chimpanzees. Their dialogue scenes flatline for everything except Hardy's "I don't dance, I don't drink..." come-on tease. Yves Montand already proved his incompatibility with English in the Marilyn Monroe movie Let's Make Love. He gets by but forfeits most of his natural charm and individuality, and Eva Marie Saint must work overtime to keep their scenes alive. Jessica Walter lacks the effortless Euro-glamour needed for her role, and has to interact with more dubbed Frenchmen like Claude Dauphin. Brian Bedford is the most interesting character, but his dramatic scenes invariably end with a snappy line before anything really insightful transpires. Frankenheimer relies far too often on "meaningful" looks to cap his dramatic scenes.

James Garner comes off the best of the four drivers even though he has the worst language problem, talking to Toshirô Mifune. Mifune's entire performance is dubbed by Paul Frees, and not well. It's like talking to the host voice at the Disneyland Haunted House, or the narrator in The St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

In Grand Prix we learn that racers race for the same reason mountain climbers climb. It's an existential riddle. Lovers are reunited or disillusioned, fortunes rise and fall. Although the movie never becomes boring, the bedroom drama never takes hold. Yet those unforgettable racetrack scenes are real grabbers. At the finale James Garner stands alone on the vast empty track, an image that cruel critics took as a metaphor for the film as a whole. We almost expect Garner to give us a Naked City benediction, something like "There are only one or two workable stories in the Big World of Grand Prix racing. This wasn't one of them."

Warner DVD's welcome disc of Grand Prix blows away previous home video versions with a bright and sharp enhanced transfer abetted by a DD 5.1 sound remix. It was transferred from 65mm elements; a few hairline scratches show up here and there. We love Maurice Jarre's score but his single march-waltz theme gets old after the two-hour mark, especially when played by Oom-pah-pah marching bands.

The film's exact length is a mystery. Some reference books list 179 minutes without overture and ent'racte music, but this disc's official running time is 176. Since this transfer is supposed to be from the 70mm Roadshow version we don't expect it to be cut. Perhaps MGM snipped the film by a few minutes when they recalled it to revoice Toshirô Mifune's vocal track.

A second disc contains four well-researched docus that concentrate on the making-of story, with chapters covering the historical racing context, the movie's superb soundtrack (authentic racing sounds add immeasurably to the film's effect) and the race courses themselves. A fluffy featurette from 1966 does its best to make us think that all of the filming was done at actual races!

For more information about Grand Prix, visit Warner Video. To order Grand Prix, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson

Grand Prix (2-disc Special Edition) - James Garner and an International All-Star Cast in John Frankenheimer's GRAND PRIX - 2-Disc Special Edition on DVD

Grand Prix is unique among 1960s Roadshow spectacles. Director John Frankenheimer had veered into the realm of political and technological fantasy with films like The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May and Seconds. Much of this racing saga is instead an exercise in technique like Frankenheimer's The Train, where Burt Lancaster played smash-up with real French railway hardware. Grand Prix posed a man's (or boy's) challenge: To capture the thrills of top-level Formula One racing in a way that puts the audience right into the driver's seat. Indeed, perhaps the most relevant dialogue line in the "dramatic" part of the movie is when Eva Marie Saint turns to Yves Montand and observes that the racetrack spectators don't seem to get a very good look at the action. Grand Prix does one thing exceedingly well, and that's give each viewer the experience of zooming down a track at 180 mph, in a car barely larger than a bathtub. Synopsis: At the Grand Prix of Monaco, Jordan-BRM teammate Scott Stoddard (Brian Bedford) has a near-fatal accident for which he faults American Pete Aron (James Garner), a driver noted for being too aggressive. Scott is sidelined to recover, a disability his wife Pat (Jessica Walter) uses to start an affair with Pete. Meanwhile, sponsor-less Pete is forced to become a TV reporter until Japanese racing boss Izo Yamura (Toshirô Mifune) hires him to drive again -- but only if Aron pulls out all stops to win. French racer Jean-Pierre Sarti (Yves Montand) is at an age where he's tired of racing and fed up with his bad marriage to Monique (Geneviève Page); he takes up with American photojournalist Louise Frederickson (Eva Marie Saint). And Jean-Pierre's Sicilian teammate Nino Barlini (Antonio Sabàto) enjoys himself with a quick racetrack pickup, Lisa (Françoise Hardy). Grand Prix combines the roller coaster of This is Cinerama! with impressive technical ingenuity. It could have been titled Grand Camera Mounts, as the most arresting images come from 70mm cameras rigged right on the moving race cars. Besides giving us a dizzying blur of motion on the Super Panavision 70 screen (Super Cinerama in Cinerama ® Theaters), the camera can pan from a sideways view of the driver to a forward view looking over the right front tire. On a big screen, the experience is like being strapped into a rocket. On the steep banking of the Monza race course the car-mounted camera remains level while the car tilts 40° to one side. In theaters one could observe the entire audience tilting their heads and laughing in wonder. This "viewer participation" phenomenon must have inspired Stanley Kubrick and/or Douglas Trumbull to come up with the Star Gate slit-scan "trip" in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The featurettes and docus on this Special Edition detail the means by which Frankenheimer achieved his specific racing effects. Several of his actors were car enthusiasts or had racing experience so we're frequently treated to real shots of James Garner or Yves Montand blazing through the curves. Expert editing and some acceptable split-screen work add to the effect, aided by dizzying helicopter shots that twist with the cars as they negotiate the streets of Monaco. Grand Prix expends most of Frankenheimer's tricks in the first twenty-minute racing scene, and succeeding races are either abbreviated or augmented with visual themes. For one race, Maurice Jarre's music takes over and Saul Bass's split-screen visuals give us a soft-focus reverie of racing images. Earlier racing films had followed the lead of aviation pictures: Give 'em one big action scene at the beginning, another at the end and fill the middle with montages. Executive producer Kirk Douglas made a Fox film called The Racers in 1955; its "big crash" in the opening race happens when somebody's French poodle wanders onto the track! Other racing car movies tended toward melodramatic plots, with drivers avenging the deaths of martyred brothers or going berserk on the track while competing for the attentions of the leading lady. The most ridiculous example is a Clark Gable show about midget car racing, To Please a Lady. Just seeing Gable crammed into his tiny, inconsequential-looking speedster is hilarious. Grand Prix labors nobly to dramatize the love lives of its racing car drivers. We have two illicit affairs, a driver obsessed with living up to the legacy of his dead brother, an aging warrior stuck between an unforgiving wife (Geneviève Page of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes) and a domineering boss (Adolfo Celi), an ambitious American and a jet-setting Sicilian swinger. Frankenheimer does his best to promote a glitzy continental sophistication to all of these complications but is defeated by a basic rule of blockbuster filming: It all has to be in English. Thus we're deprived of the Formula One circuit's multilingual European atmosphere. Newcomers Antonio Sabàto and Françoise Hardy aren't great actors in their native languages and appear to have been coached like chimpanzees. Their dialogue scenes flatline for everything except Hardy's "I don't dance, I don't drink..." come-on tease. Yves Montand already proved his incompatibility with English in the Marilyn Monroe movie Let's Make Love. He gets by but forfeits most of his natural charm and individuality, and Eva Marie Saint must work overtime to keep their scenes alive. Jessica Walter lacks the effortless Euro-glamour needed for her role, and has to interact with more dubbed Frenchmen like Claude Dauphin. Brian Bedford is the most interesting character, but his dramatic scenes invariably end with a snappy line before anything really insightful transpires. Frankenheimer relies far too often on "meaningful" looks to cap his dramatic scenes. James Garner comes off the best of the four drivers even though he has the worst language problem, talking to Toshirô Mifune. Mifune's entire performance is dubbed by Paul Frees, and not well. It's like talking to the host voice at the Disneyland Haunted House, or the narrator in The St. Valentine's Day Massacre. In Grand Prix we learn that racers race for the same reason mountain climbers climb. It's an existential riddle. Lovers are reunited or disillusioned, fortunes rise and fall. Although the movie never becomes boring, the bedroom drama never takes hold. Yet those unforgettable racetrack scenes are real grabbers. At the finale James Garner stands alone on the vast empty track, an image that cruel critics took as a metaphor for the film as a whole. We almost expect Garner to give us a Naked City benediction, something like "There are only one or two workable stories in the Big World of Grand Prix racing. This wasn't one of them." Warner DVD's welcome disc of Grand Prix blows away previous home video versions with a bright and sharp enhanced transfer abetted by a DD 5.1 sound remix. It was transferred from 65mm elements; a few hairline scratches show up here and there. We love Maurice Jarre's score but his single march-waltz theme gets old after the two-hour mark, especially when played by Oom-pah-pah marching bands. The film's exact length is a mystery. Some reference books list 179 minutes without overture and ent'racte music, but this disc's official running time is 176. Since this transfer is supposed to be from the 70mm Roadshow version we don't expect it to be cut. Perhaps MGM snipped the film by a few minutes when they recalled it to revoice Toshirô Mifune's vocal track. A second disc contains four well-researched docus that concentrate on the making-of story, with chapters covering the historical racing context, the movie's superb soundtrack (authentic racing sounds add immeasurably to the film's effect) and the race courses themselves. A fluffy featurette from 1966 does its best to make us think that all of the filming was done at actual races! For more information about Grand Prix, visit Warner Video. To order Grand Prix, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson

Rachel Kempson, 1910-2003


Rachel Kempson, the matriarch of the Redgrave acting dynasty, and a notable performer of the stage and screen in her own right, died on May 24 of natural causes at the home of her granddaughter, the actress Natasha Richardson in Millbrook, New York. She was 92. Her family of performers included Kempson's late husband, Sir Michael Redgrave, children Vanessa, Lynn and Corin Redgrave, and granddaughters Natasha and Joely Richardson.

Born on May 28, 1910, in Dartmouth, England, Kempson longed for a career in acting. She trained as an actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London and made her professional stage debut in 1932 at the legendary Stratford-on-Avon Theater in the lead of Romeo and Juliet. She went on to perform with such distinguished theatrical companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company, the English Stage Company and the Old Vic. In 1935 she was asked to star in the Liverpool Repertory production of Flowers of the Forest. Her leading man was Michael Redgrave, one of the top actors of his generation. Within a few weeks they fell in love and were married on July 18, 1935.

Kempson took a break for the next few years, to give birth to her three children: Vanessa, Corin and Lynn, but by the mid '40s, she came back to pursue her career in both stage and screen. She began to appear in some films with her husband: Basil Dearden's The Captive Heart (1946); and Lewis Gilbert's tough war drama The Sea Shall Not Have Them (1954). She hit her stride as a character actress in the '60s with a string of good films: Tony Richardson's (at the time her son-in-law) hilarious, award-winning Tom Jones (1963); Silvio Narizzano's classic comedy Georgy Girl (1966) starring her daughter, Lynn; and John Dexter's underrated anti-war film The Virgin Soldiers (1969), again with Lynn. In the '80s Kempson had two strong roles: Lady Manners in the epic British television series The Jewel in the Crown (1984); and as Lady Belfield in Sydney Pollack's hit Out of Africa (1985), starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep.

Kempson had been in semi-retirement after the death of her husband, Sir Michael in 1985. She made her last film appearance in Henry Jaglom's romantic Deja vu (1998) poignantly playing the mother to her real life daughter Vanessa. Kempson is survived by her three children and 10 grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole

Rachel Kempson, 1910-2003

Rachel Kempson, the matriarch of the Redgrave acting dynasty, and a notable performer of the stage and screen in her own right, died on May 24 of natural causes at the home of her granddaughter, the actress Natasha Richardson in Millbrook, New York. She was 92. Her family of performers included Kempson's late husband, Sir Michael Redgrave, children Vanessa, Lynn and Corin Redgrave, and granddaughters Natasha and Joely Richardson. Born on May 28, 1910, in Dartmouth, England, Kempson longed for a career in acting. She trained as an actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London and made her professional stage debut in 1932 at the legendary Stratford-on-Avon Theater in the lead of Romeo and Juliet. She went on to perform with such distinguished theatrical companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company, the English Stage Company and the Old Vic. In 1935 she was asked to star in the Liverpool Repertory production of Flowers of the Forest. Her leading man was Michael Redgrave, one of the top actors of his generation. Within a few weeks they fell in love and were married on July 18, 1935. Kempson took a break for the next few years, to give birth to her three children: Vanessa, Corin and Lynn, but by the mid '40s, she came back to pursue her career in both stage and screen. She began to appear in some films with her husband: Basil Dearden's The Captive Heart (1946); and Lewis Gilbert's tough war drama The Sea Shall Not Have Them (1954). She hit her stride as a character actress in the '60s with a string of good films: Tony Richardson's (at the time her son-in-law) hilarious, award-winning Tom Jones (1963); Silvio Narizzano's classic comedy Georgy Girl (1966) starring her daughter, Lynn; and John Dexter's underrated anti-war film The Virgin Soldiers (1969), again with Lynn. In the '80s Kempson had two strong roles: Lady Manners in the epic British television series The Jewel in the Crown (1984); and as Lady Belfield in Sydney Pollack's hit Out of Africa (1985), starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. Kempson had been in semi-retirement after the death of her husband, Sir Michael in 1985. She made her last film appearance in Henry Jaglom's romantic Deja vu (1998) poignantly playing the mother to her real life daughter Vanessa. Kempson is survived by her three children and 10 grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

The danger? Well, of course. But you are missing a very important point. I think if any of us imagined - really imagined - what it would be like to go into a tree at 150 miles per hour we would probably never get into the cars at all, none of us. So it has always seemed to me that to do something very dangerous requires a certain absence of imagination.
- Jean-Pierre Sarti
Before you leave I want to tell you something. Not about the others, but about myself. I used to go to pieces. I'd see an accident like that and be so weak inside that I wanted to quit - stop the car and walk away. I could hardly make myself go past it. But I'm older now. When I see something really horrible, I put my foot down. Hard! Because I know that everyone else is lifting his.
- Jean-Pierre Sarti
What a terrible way to win.
- Louise Frederickson
No, there is no terrible way to win. There is only winning.
- Jean-Pierre Sarti
Let's try to get the season off to a good start. Shall we? Drive the car! Don't try to stand it on its bloody ear!
- Jeff Jordan
I used to think nothing could be better than motorbike racing. Three times I am a World Champion on my motorbike. I am happy. Then I go into one of these, these cars: you sit in a box, a coffin, gasoline all around you. It is like being inside a bomb! Crazy, but of course the cars are faster, and that is the most important thing.
- Nino Barlini
And what do you think of this man? In the middle of the race, he decides to take a swim! It cost me two seconds!
- Nino Barlini
Pete, do you ever get tired, of the driving?
- Jean-Pierre Sarti
No.
- Pete Aron
Lately, I sometimes get very tired, you know? Very tired.
- Jean-Pierre Sarti

Trivia

The helmet design that James Garner's character uses is that of then-Grand Prix race driver Chris Amon. The only difference was a silhouette of a Kiwi bird that was normally on the side of Amon's helmet (he was from New Zealand) that was left off of Garner's, as his character was an American.

The helmet design used by Brian Bedford is that of then second-year driver and future triple World Champion Jackie Stewart. Of the four actors, Bedford is the only one not to do any actual driving, which explains why in all segments where the Scott Stoddard character is shown driving, he has the balaclava up to his goggles.

The cars that were used in the film, supposedly Formula 1 cars, were in fact Formula 3 cars made up to look like Formula 1's.

During filming, Yves Montand spun out and subsequently was terrified to go fast again. The crew then modified a racecar that was then towed behind a Ford GT40. This set up would reach speeds of 130. Montand was more comfortable with this set up, then having to drive the car himself.

Frankenheimer refused to film cars moving slowly, then speed the film up. He felt the average moviegoer would be able to notice the difference.

Notes

Copyright length: 167 min. Filmed in Europe, England, and the United States. Presented in Cinerama; employs split screen techniques.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1966

Director John Frankenheimer died July 6, 2002 of a stroke at the age of 72.

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1966