The Great Race (1965)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Adventure Comedy, Costume Adventure, Ensemble Film, Slapstick, Parody/Spoof  |   Release Date - Jan 7, 1965 (USA)  |   Run Time - 160 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Michael Costello

Blake Edwards' sprawling comic romp has some funny gags, but they're too few and far between in this two-and-a-half-hour-plus film. The white-clad Great Leslie (Tony Curtis) and black-draped villain (Jack Lemmon) star as chief rivals in a round-the-world auto race from New York to Paris set in 1908. Aside from shooting the broadly conceived comedy on sets, which tends to give the film an artificial sitcom quality, Edwards seems not to have exercised much control over the execution of the physical gags, which lack the sharp precision of his best work. Lemmon and Peter Falk (who plays his sidekick) ham it up for all they're worth, but Edwards' decision to shoot so many scenes in long master takes with minimal reaction shots has relegated much of the acting that's not purely physical to an afterthought. Many of the set pieces -- like the battle on the ice-floes, the spectacular Western brawl, and the biggest pie fight in movie history -- are familiar and slack, but may appeal to children.