| The single line that's
necessary to understand this film -- if you don't have an instinctive
understanding from the moment you hear the engines beginning to rev --
is McQueen's response to "Why do you do it?".
He says (and i'm afraid i have to paraphrase a bit here) "That out
there, that's living. Everything else is just waiting."
And that's the truth; for some people, living on the edge -- whatever
it may be the edge of -- is the only time they feel truly alive.
The great British driver Stirling Moss's biography is entitled
"Everything But my Life". Graham Hill, after retiring and taking a job
as a commentator was asked if he missed racing. He replied along the
lines of "Twenty-four hours out of most days, I don't miss it at all.
But when those engines start up -- I miss it more than anything."
(Hill and Stirling both almost died in horrific crashes ... and
returned to racing.)
McQueen's film catches this attitude well -- these are men with an
obsession, a need to get out there and push themselves and their
vehicles to the limits, and beyond.
(Limits? Another Graham Hill story -- he took a car out for practice at
the Nurburgring. It was impossible for the car's suspension to allow
its belly to touch the roadway. He came back with all the paint rubbed
off the bottom of the car.
(A car magazine decided to see how different drivers approached their
art; they fitted a gran prix car up with full instrumentation and sent
three different drivers out to run hot laps on the same race course. As
expected, the profiles of all three varied, some were faster on one
corner, some on another -- but two of the three touched the car's
theoretical absolute limits in acceleration or cornering force at
several points on the lap. The third exceeded them several times...)
If you want a RACING MOVIE -- one that gives equal emphasis to the
"Racing" and the "Movie" part, this isn't it -- try Winning (with
Paul Newman), which i believe Amazon is/was offering as a two-fer with
If you want a racing MOVIE -- one that's first a Movie and secondly a
racing story (albeit with incredible racing sequences) try Gran Prix,
with James Garner. (Though the full impact of that
sort-of-Cinerama, multiple split-screen film will to a great extent be
lost on home video, no matter how good the system. Unless you
have a Cinerama theatre in your basement.)
But if you want a RACING movie -- one that understands what and why
racing is and lays it all out there, this is it.
Some Other Random Comments: One review mentions McQueen driving a race
with his ankle in a cast -- it wasn't in this film, it was either
Sebring or Daytona, and he only barely lost to Mario Andretti who was
determined not to lose to "an actor". (I think the broken
ankle resulted from a crash on this film, now that i come to think.)
Almost all of the cars in this film -- including the Porsche which
meets such a horrific end on the Armco -- were actual factory cars from
the previous season, which were pretty much obsolete in the new season,
and which the factory donated/sold cheap to the production company.
Except for the Ferraris -- Enzo read the script, said "A Porsche wins?
The "Ferraris" which McQueen and crew took great pleasure
in destroying are actually replica bodies on old Lola chassis.
Another review mentions that the tires on the Porsche can be seen
spinning as it bounces off the Armco in slo-mo, and says that this is
beacuse the accelerator had been jammed open to cause it to crash more
spectacularly. From what i read at the time, the car was first smashed
into the Armco under radio control at a speed approaching 200MPH; after
it bounced off, a stunt driver got into it, strapped himself solidly
in, and gunned it up to sixty or more MPH, hitting the barrier again at
a sharp angle which resulted in several more bounces. The tires are
burning because it was wide open to enable him to do more elaborate
spins and crashes. (They cover up the cut between the RC crash and the
controlled crash in the slo-mo sequence by one of the cutaways to
McQueen's face as he relives the crash after everything comes to a
Feel the Need For Speed? This is the DVD for you.