In 1908, the Great Leslie (Tony Curtis, all in white as befits a fine hero) and Professor Fate (Jack Lemmon on top comedic form and sporting one of the most dastardly moustaches this side of a Victorian melodrama) are among the competitors in a gruelling 22,000-mile road race from New York to Paris.
En route to Paris, the two rivals become involved in some bizarre escapades as they battle to outwit each other. Support is provided by Peter Falk as Maximilian Mean, a shifty character of fumbling wickedness, and Keenan Wynn as Hezekiah Sturdy, who is as strong and honourable as the Great Leslie.
The Great Race is pretty near great screen entertainment – A long, often slapstick, generally amusing, epic-sized comedy about the eventful motor race.
Director Blake Edwards pays homage to the cartoon characterisation and slapstick wackiness of silent comedies in this stylised, lavish and entertaining, extravaganza.
Pretty Maggie DuBois (Natalie Wood) – a suffragette who is determined to become a “scoop” reporter – goes along as cargo and the score is by Edwards regular Henry Mancini.
The Great Leslie (Leslie Gallant II)
Professor Fate/Prince Hapnik
Maximilian Mean (Max)
Baron Rolfe Von Stuppe