Grand Prix, 1966

Cars

There’s been a lot of stuff written about Le Mans, Steve McQueen’s 1971 classic portrayal of endurance racing. Sure, it was a brilliantly gritty portrayal of the scene and featured the Coolest Man in the World. But for us, Jon Frankenheimer’s 1966 feature Grand Prix does all the things that Le Mans does, but slightly better and with an understated style.

With a budget of around nine million dollars and some of the most incredible action photography ever shot: the film’s look and feel was augmented by maestro of the title sequence Saul Bass. And though the plot line and the acting, even from non-professional driving stars like James Garner is fundamentally hokey – it matters little.

Because what you’re really watching this movie for three other things: the brilliant titles and graphic montages; the power and the glory of the action sequences; and last but no means least, the beautiful, ear-splitting sound.

Though Bass failed to be rewarded for his title sequences, the movie did pick up the Oscar gongs for Best Film Editing, Best Sound and Best Sound Effects. But curiously, despite its widespread success and obvious visual and aural quality, it remains a relatively obscure classic.

Featuring many of the leading drivers of the year’s GP roster, including Graham Hill, Phil Hill, Jim Clark and John Surtees, what the film manages to capture is the grease thick danger and adrenalin of Formula 1 during this era.

 

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