Monday, June 24, 2019

Push The Button, Max

A favorite film of the Royal Father, the Royal Grandfather and Dear Auntie is this 1965 epic comedy, The Great Race, directed by the great Blake Edwards. In the tradition of great films, this one nearly didn't get made.

A look at the films
that have left a mark on my life.
The script called for shooting on three different continents, dozens of classic turn-of-the-20th-century cars, hundreds of period costumes (by the great Edith Head, no less), a huge bar fight, the biggest pie fight ever filmed, and an automobile race connecting all of it. It's not hard to see why a studio would pass on it, but United Artists took it only to pass it to Warner Brothers when costs spiraled beyond the original $6 million budget.

A large amount of cash went into that pie fight. Let's take a closer look at it.

Still, with Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Natalie Wood attached to the picture, it had to be a surefire hit, right?

Despite all that money, all those stars, all those cars, and all those pies, The Great Race was a great disappointment -- even though it grossed double its negative cost of $12 million. Audiences found everything just too over the done, including the length: the film clocks in at 2 hours and 40 minutes.

When I was in the sixth grade, our teachers showed this movie at a rewards assembly. I had seen it at least twice before then, and I was the only one generally interested in it. All those other kids probably would have preferred Footloose.

About 15 years later, I had Tony Curtis on a 5:00 newscast I produced, live in the studio. I was stuck in the control room while our anchor got to ask him questions about his storied career. I never got to meet him or shake his hand... much less ask him about The Great Race, all those pies, and all those cars.

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