DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

GRAND PRIX (director: John Frankenheimer; screenwriters: William Hanley/Robert Alan Aurthur; cinematographer: Lionel Lindon; editors: Fredric Steinkamp/Henry Berman/Stewart Linder/Frank Santillo; music:  Maurice Jarre; cast: James Garner (Pete Aron),  Brian Bedford (Scott Stoddard), Yves Montand (Jean-Pierre Sarti), Antonio Sabato (Nino Barlini),  Toshiro Mifune (Izo Yamura), Eva Marie Saint (Louise Frederickson), Adolfo Celi (Agostini Manetta), Claude Dauphin (Hugo Simon), Jessica Walter (Pat), Francoise Hardy  (Lisa), Genevieve Page (Monique Delveaux Sarti), Jack Watson (Jeff Jordan), Enzo Fiermonte (Guido); Runtime: 176; MPAA Rating: PG; producers Edward Lewis/Kirk Douglas/James Garner/John Frankenheimer; Warner DVD; 1966)

"A decent formula motor racing film."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A decent formula motor racing film, considered by many critics as the best racing film ever, is directed with cinematic fervor by the talented filmmaker, who is an admirer of the sport, John Frankenheimer ("The Fixer"/"The Horsemen"/"The Train"). The pic is about following a season of racing at the Grand Prix circuits of Monte Carlo: Clermont-Ferrand in France, Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, Zandvoort in the Netherlands, Brands Hatch in England and ending in Monza, Italy. The racing scenes are  a special treat for the die hard racing fans. Also the director's purpose to accurately convey what it takes to participate in the risky sport shines through all the racing events and the tragedies.

It's written by William Hanley and Robert Alan Aurthur, who provide a slight but serviceable soap opera story in a film which is all about the racing cars and the people are merely secondary. Though the dialogue is cliche-ridden and the story line trite, the racing scenes are so exciting and are brilliantly shot in a documentary style, that pic has value.

The film focuses on the following drivers: The laconic rugged bachelor American, Pete Aron (James Garner). The delusional Frenchman Jean-Pierre Sarti (Yves Montand), who plans to retire after the Monte Carlo circuit run. He's locked into a loveless marriage with Monique (Genevieve Page) and becomes involved with the divorcee American fashion magazine writer Louise Frederickson (Eva Marie Saint). The sensitive Scott Stoddard (Brian Bedford), a character inspired by Stirling Moss, is Pete's emotionally confused racing partner, who is haunted by the success of his champion-driver brother and is obsessed to be a champion which almost destroys his marriage to the American actress-model Pat (Jessica Walter). She is being chased after by Pete.

Frankenheimer wisely uses a split-screen to get different views of the action, that is superbly shot in Cinerama. Though overlong and basically vacuous fare, the pic holds your attention throughout.

REVIEWED ON 12/28/2014       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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