The roar and whine of engines sending men and machines hurtling over the 10 top road and track courses of Europe, the US and Mexico – the Grand Prix circuits – are the prime motivating forces of this actioncrammed adventure that director John Frankenheimer and producer Edward Lewis have interlarded with personal drama that is sometimes introspectively revealing, occasionally mundane, but generally a most serviceable framework.
Frankenheimer has shrewdly varied the length and the importance of the races that figure in the film and the overplay of running commentary on the various events, not always distinct above the roar of motors, imparts a documentary vitality. The director, moreover, frequently divides his outsized screen into sectional panels for a sort of montage interplay of reactions of the principals – a stream of consciousness commentary – that adroitly prevents the road running from overwhelming the personal drama.
There is a curious thing, however, about the exposition of the characters in this screenplay. Under cold examination they are stock characters. James Garner, American competitor in a field of Europeans, is somewhat taciturn, unencumbered by marital involvement. Yves Montand has a wife in name and forms a genuine attachment for American fashion writer Eva Marie Saint, a divorcee. Brian Bedford is the emotionally confused Britisher competing against the memory of his champion-driver brother and whose compulsion to be a champion almost wrecks his marriage to whilom American actress-model Jessica Walter.
1966: Best Sound, Editing, Sound Effects