Great Race [1965]

Director: Blake Edwards
Stars: Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Peter Falk, Keenan Wynn
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Runtime: 164 minutes

Director Blake Edwards, fresh from the success of the first two Pink Panther movies, indulged his love of classic slapstick comedy with this long free-for-all, which throws in everything but Laurel and Hardy's kitchen sink. The film reunites Some Like It Hot stars Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, ably aided by a spunky Natalie Wood. The subject is a New-York-to-Paris auto race in the early years of the 20th century, pitting the Great Leslie (Curtis), a goody-goody dressed all in white--even his teeth sparkle--against the malevolent Professor Fate (Lemmon), whose coal-black heart is reflected in his handlebar mustache. He looks like a bill collector from a silent- movie melodrama. Lemmon does double duty, also playing the pampered, drunken king of a small European country, whose laugh sounds like the wail of a cat in heat. The film may be too long for its own good, and you really have to love Jack Lemmon to put up with his over-the-top performance, but it's side-splitting in spots. It's one of those movies, if seen in childhood, that stays in your mind for years afterward. Some of the bigger routines, such as a pie fight of epic proportions, don't work as well as the simple chemistry between the perpetually exasperated Professor Fate and his much-abused assistant, Max (a terrific Peter Falk). Push the button, Max. --Robert Horton

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