FORmula 1 mEETS HOllYWOOD
Just as michael Delaney (Steve
mcQueen) addresses the risks and
rewards in Le Mans five years later,
a recurring theme in Grand Prix is
the main protagonists explaining why
they choose to drive Formula 1 cars
despite the ever-present danger.
Did script writer Robert alan aurthur
and subsequent polisher Bill Hanley
manage to voice their inner conflicts
and doubts without resorting to
obvious cliché? You be the judge.
Izo Yamura (Toshiro Mifune) Why do
you drive racing cars, or do you not
think about it?
Pete Aron (James Garner) Oh, mr.
Yamura, I don’t think there’s one of us
who doesn’t ask himself at least once in
the middle of a race, “What the hell am
I doing here?” Of course, when it’s over,
we conveniently forget that we asked
ourselves that question. I think about
it and a lot of reasons I don’t know.
maybe to do something that brings you
so close to the possibility of death and
to survive it is to feel life and living so
much more intensely.
INTROSPECTION OR CLICHÉ?
Jean-Pierre Sarti (Yves Montand,
ABOVE) Before you leave, I want to
tell you something. Not about the
others, but about myself. I used to go
to pieces. I’d see an accident like that
and be so weak inside that I wanted
to quit – stop the car and walk away.
I could hardly make myself go past it.
But I’m older now. When I see
something really horrible, I put my
foot down. Hard! Because I know
that everyone else is lifting his.
Louise Frederickson (Eva Marie Saint)
What a terrible way to win.
Sarti No, there is no terrible way to win.
There is only winning.
of the bootlid in true comic-book style,
and various pilots – both unemployed and
otherwise – had been engaged to motor
these around in the 30mph queue beloved
of Hollywood directors, sawing furiously
at the wheel like Greek taxi drivers.”
Frankenheimer went for broke at
Monaco, employing a compressed-air
cannon to fire the Stoddard character’s
car into a colossal crash as Aron’s sister
Jordan-BRM goes for a dip in the harbor.
The same cannon was later used to shoot
Sarti’s Manneta-Ferrari off the old Monza
banking (a touch of artistic license, given
that it hadn’t been used for F1 since 1961).
Some other tracks visited during the
actual ’ 66 season were noticeably absent
from the movie, not least the Nurburgring,
which had been exclusively nabbed by the
rival McQueen production.
Of the lead actors involved in the
“Frankenheimer originally wanted
making of Grand Prix, only James Garner
(Aron) felt comfortable driving at high
speed. Already something of a car nut, he
was trained by Bob Bondurant to a level
where he was more than happy to tussle
with real-life racing stars during the
shoot. The likes of Yves Montand (Sarti)
and Antonio Sabato (Barlini) were
decidedly less keen, being dragged
around behind the camera car in glorified
sleds. Sabato, especially, did little to
endear himself to the proper pilots, with
Chris Amon reputedly bringing him down
a peg or two by towing his mocked up
Manetta-Ferrari at Monza at 140mph.
Brian Bedford (Stoddard), meanwhile,
didn’t possess a driving license when
shooting started and performed few
driving scenes of any description.
Predictably, there were one or two
glitches during production. One
unexpected problem arose during the
British GP at Brands Hatch. The Ferrari
squad didn’t make it to the UK due to a
metal workers’ strike at the Maranello
factory. In an effort to maintain
continuity, privateer Chris Lawrence was
to field his own F1 team, but the
plan was nixed on cost grounds”
Pete Aron (James
Garner) goes for
a swim in Monte
accident in 1955.
(LEFT) Now driving
Yamura, Aron wraps
up the F1 World
the Monza finale.