Grand Prix1966

Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, Yves Montand, Toshiro Mifune
Genre: Drama, Sport
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Runtime: 176 minutes

Light on story, this 1966 spectacle directed by John Frankenheimer was shot in 70 millimeter, with a cinematically enthralling emphasis on unique, visceral new ways of capturing the sensations of a car race. James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, Yves Montand, and Toshiro Mifune are part of the stellar, international cast whose characters plod through assorted relationship and business conflicts. But the film's real hook is the thrilling and inventive means by which Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate) brings an urgency to the drama happening on the racetrack. A true master of the plastic techniques of obtaining and cutting kinetic footage, Frankenheimer offers more than a joyride to viewers: he makes action part of the compelling language of stories. Cameras are strapped to vehicles as they round the track, shots are taken from a helicopter, the screen is split between angles for maximum impact--even if Grand Prix doesn't rank among the director's best character-driven stories, it is certainly driven on its own terms. --Tom Keogh On the DVD The much-anticipated release on DVD does not disappoint, with a pristine restored print and upgraded 5.1 Dolby sound. Of course, the Cinerama film can only be fully appreciated if you sit very close to your screen. The absence of a commentary track is forgivable, since director John Frankenheimer died in 2002. "Pushing the Limit" is your standard 30-minute retrospective with many new interviews with the stars and drivers. The universal opinion is that the film caught Formula One at the exact right time when the beauty of the sport was about to be changed in favor of safety and commercialism. There are some fascinating stories on how they were able to use real race footage so seamlessly. "Flat Out" continues the vibe of what racing was like in the '60s with more interviews from the real racers. "The Style and Sound of Speed" talks about designer Saul Bass and how he created the film's different approaches to each race and the cutting-edge use of montages and multiple screens. The vintage doc is kitschy but allows us to see the filming in action (the footage is used extensively in the new featurettes). --Doug Thomas

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