Formula I drivers compete to be the best in this slam-you-into-the-driver’s seat tale of speed, spectacle and intertwined personal lives. John Frankenheimer (who 32 years later would again stomp the pedal to the metal for the car chases of Ronin) directs this winner of 3 Academy Awards,* crafting split-screen images to capture the overlapping drama and orchestrating you-are-there POV camerawork to intensify the hard-driving thrills. Nearly 30 top drivers take part in the excitement. Buckle up to race with the best.
Light on story, this 1966 spectacle directed by John Frankenheimer was shot in 70 millimeter, with a cinematically enthralling emphasis on unique, visceral new ways of capturing the sensations of a car race. James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, Yves Montand, and Toshiro Mifune are part of the stellar, international cast whose characters plod through assorted relationship and business conflicts. But the film's real hook is the thrilling and inventive means by which Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate
) brings an urgency to the drama happening on the racetrack. A true master of the plastic techniques of obtaining and cutting kinetic footage, Frankenheimer offers more than a joyride to viewers: he makes action part of the compelling language of stories. Cameras are strapped to vehicles as they round the track, shots are taken from a helicopter, the screen is split between angles for maximum impact--even if Grand Prix
doesn't rank among the director's best character-driven stories, it is certainly driven on its own terms. --Tom Keogh