The Great Race is one of those films that your parents or grandparents saw and tell you, “You HAVE to watch this!” And you say you will and never quite get to it. Lemme tell you…
I saw this movie for the first time back when I was in high school. I tried so hard not to like the slapstick comedy, fascinate over Natalie Wood’s outfits, giggle at the pugs…Oh the pugs!
Let me go backwards a bit and give you the synopsis. Released in 1965, the white-suited and quintessential hero, appropriately named “The Great Leslie,” is played by Tony Curtis. He convinces auto makers that a race from New York to Paris will boost auto sales. He is accompanied by his stoic “man,” Hezekiah, in a race against his mustached, dressed-in-black, arch-rival, Professor Fate. Professor Fate (Jack Lemmon) has his own sidekick, Max (Peter Falk), and they vow to beat Leslie to the finish line. Everything about the characters is over-the-top.
The theatrical feminist, Maggie Dubois, is played by the beautiful Natalie Wood. She bullies a newspaper into hiring her to cover the race (read: her shrill voice and silly antics = bullies). When her car breaks down, Leslie offers her a ride. Thus, he ends up hauling her around the rest of the race.
I never thought my girls would like this movie. It’s too “everything” for them: too many musicals, too much silliness, too many costume changes for Maggie Dubois. I was so very wrong. When given the opportunity, both Thing 1 and Thing 2 gladly pop in the DVD and let ‘er rip. There isn’t any age that wouldn’t enjoy this movie and its unbridled fun.
If you happen to be a fan of Laurel and Hardy or the Three Stooges, then you will undoubtedly adore The Great Race.