Grand Prix 1966

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John Frankenheimer’s 1966 epic of motor-racing comes in at a cumbersome 176 minutes, but if you can manage the length, there’s plenty of rewards for patient viewers. Making full use of widescreen and split-screen formats, Frankenheimer creates an impressive sense of realism about the sports action, with James Garner as Peter Aron, who has to balance his feelings for guilt about another driver’s injury with his drive to win at all costs. The international cast features Yves Montand, Toshiro Mifune and a somewhat damp squib of a romantic interest in Eva Marie Saint, and the off-track chicanery has dated badly. But the racing sequences are thrilling particularly because the technology of the cars appears so primitive; grand prix racing looks pretty dangerous, and its no surprise to learn that many of the drivers involved in filming died within years of the films’ release.

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