Thursday, March 26, 2009
Grand Prix (1966)
Directed by John Frankenheimer. Three damn hours is the length of this massively flawed epic with gorgeously shot race sequences. It falls flat on its ass when it tries to please the little ladies in the audience with its soapy plot.
In another post I said that this movie doomed James Garner's career to TV, but then I looked at his IMDB posting and saw that he worked a ton in movies after this. The film follows the careers and love lives of four drivers: an American, an Italian, a Frenchman and a Englishman. I think we're supposed to be rooting for Garner, the American, except that he's kind of a prick. He puts his racing partner's life in danger on the track to increase his own chances of winning, which puts the guy in the hospital, giving him time to sleep with the guy's wife and make her his girlfriend. The concepts of motivation, remorse and redemption apparently did not cross the minds of the screenwriters here, of whom there must have been many because this movie wreaks of many cooks spoiling the batter.
This might sound crazy, but this might still be worth seeing for a few reasons. First, the film itself is beautiful. Everything looks great -- the cars and racing, the European architecture, the women's fashions. Second, speaking of the women, French singer/actress/model Francoise Hardy has a small part in this, and she was just awesome. Third, because the horrible length of this movie is split unusually across two DVDs, when I returned them to Netflix they immediately replaced them with two different titles in my queue, effectively providing me with five-at-a-time rentals instead of the four-at-a-time I'm supposed to get. This gravy train seems to have run its course -- they fixed it after a few weeks.