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Fast cars, a hot romance and a behind-the-scenes look at the world famous Indy 500 - Winning has it all. Paul Newman stars as Frank Capua, a hotshot race car driver who will do anything to win. However, this obsession nearly causes him to lose his wife, Elora (Joanne Woodward), and his friendship with arch-rival Luther Erding (Robert Wagner) along the way. Released in 1969, Winning features a believable personal drama, spectacular footage of the 1968 Indy 500 with its famous 17-car pileup and a biting look at the people who make their living in the fast lane.
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In my view, Winning is an overlooked gem with great performances from Newman and Woodward (always great to watch these two in action together), a mature plot with a credible dramatic setup, and some fantastic racing footage based at the Indianapolis 500. (Check out the wreck that happens just about a minute after the great race begins: it's one of the most frightening things ever captured in cinema. I don't know if this wreck was staged or just happened to be captured on film.)
Great to see Richard Thomas in an early role as a troubled but likable teenager. And here's to Robert Wagner, Newman's arch rival on the track and in the bedroom, who's a villain you almost have to love!
Good work all around. Some of the music soundtrack appears a bit dated with 40 years hindsight, but Winning still wins: it's a great looking film with exciting action and great stars that also serves as a fascinating time capsule of the 1960's car culture.
As far as a movie, it is a pretty good example of the time and not that bad a race movie in that it actually has a plot other than going from one race to another. There is some hanky panky going on off the track that makes the movie interesting to those not fully into racing.
The race scenes are not bad, although the on-track announcing is borderline funny at times...but not as bad as "Redline 7000" of about the same vintage which starred James Caan. That movie was more a kitsch drive-in movie, although fun in its own way.
For race buffs there are better movies, the best being "Grand Prix" with James Garner and in the mix "Le Mans" with Steve McQueen, with a weaker story line than both "Grand Prix" and even "Winning".
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Hot Toasty Rag, July 10, 2017
Paul Newman struck gold with this one: he teams up again onscreen with his wife Joanne Woodward, and he gets to...Read more