The Great Race. 1965. USA. Directed by Blake Edwards. Screenplay by Arthur A. Ross. With Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Peter Falk, Keenan Wynn. 35mm. 160 min.
Curtis reunited with his Some Like It Hot costar Jack Lemmon for Blake Edwards’s 1965 slapstick epic, which grew during production to become the most expensive comedy ever filmed up until that time. Curtis happily satirizes his matinee idol good looks as The Great Leslie, a white-clad daredevil who enters the 1908 New York to Paris Race with his custom-built motor car; Lemmon, all in black, is his nemesis, Professor Fate. Natalie Wood, who had costarred with Curtis in Kings Go Forth (1958) and Sex and the Single Girl (1964), completes the triangle as a New York photojournalist and passionate suffragette assigned to cover the race. Though the film frequently trips over its own scale (a climactic pie fight was claimed to have involved 4,000 pastries), Edwards’s affection for the mechanics of silent comedy shines through.