Thursday, May 26, 2011

Grand Prix in Blu-ray

It's finally here! The 1966 movie Grand Prix is finally available in Blu-ray, transfered from original 65mm to 1080i. And it is beautiful. Particularly the first 20 minutes or so, at the Monaco Grand Prix. That's American driver Richie Ginther below, probably in the "camera car", a real Formula One car with a 65mm Super Panavision camera.

Lots of great "extras" on the disk. The director, John Frankenheimer (who also directed Ronin), describes how he was shown the door at Ferrari, when he came to ask for their assistance. Mr. Ferrari didn't want anything to do with the movie and wouldn't allow the Ferrari "prancing horse" logo to be shown, or any mention of the word "Ferrari" to be in the movie. So after the Monaco footage was shot, Frankenheimer begged for the opportunity to show a rough-cut of the footage. Mr. Ferrari was so impressed and enthusiastic that he gave the film makers complete access, even allowing them to film in the Ferrari factory, an absolutely unheard-of concession. In the snap below, Enzo Ferrari (on the right) is meeting actor Adolfo Celi, who played Senor Manetta, a thinly-disguised version of Mr. Ferrari.

In another "extra", someone recounts a conversation between a young Jackie Stewart and the legendary Jim Clark. Stewart and Clark were discussing how to handle a certain corner.

“I lost it at the Station hairpin,” Stewart said.

“Did you shunt?”

“No I recovered, caught it and didn't hit anything.”

“How'd you do THAT?” Clark asked.

At first, Stewart was pleased that he had impressed the great Jim Clark, but as he gained more experience he realized that he had profoundly misunderstood. Clark was asking why Stewart wasn't driving at 100%, right on the edge, where there is no recovery, but where a driver has to be if he wants to be World Champion.

But it's the race footage and the editing that makes this movie so special. The plot, involving the love lives of three or four drivers, is ridiculous and hackneyed. But Yves Montand is good, and so is Antonio Sabato. Even Toshiro Mifune does well, although his audio bothers me. It looks dubbed or looped in, and badly.


Robin said...

It is the greatest racing film ever made.

drjim said...

Oh, boy....I gotta get that!

danno said...

And.... Appropriately enough, the Monaco F1 Grand Prix is this weekend. Check your listings for Speed Channel.

Qualifying is SatAM and the race is Sunday AM.

It's OMGDark thirty in the western time zones, probably breakfast time in the Eastern US zones.

Recorders set to stun!

Guffaw in AZ said...

Sadly (because I'm twisted)
I saw you post title, and flashed-back to the old Playboy racing cartoon, "and it's pronounced PREE!"
Great film!