is an action film released in 1966
. It was directed by John Frankenheimer
with music by Maurice Jarre
. It starred James Garner
, Eva Marie Saint
, Yves Montand
, Brian Bedford
and Antonio Sabato
. Toshirô Mifune
has a supporting role as a race team owner, inspired from Soichiro Honda
. It was photographed in Super Panavision 70
by Lionel Lindon, and presented in 70 mm Cinerama
in premiere engagements. The unique racing cinematography is one of the main draws of the film.
Racing fans also enjoy the real-life racing footage and the appearances by real drivers. These included walk-ons (some uncredited) of F1 World Champions Phil Hill, Graham Hill, Juan-Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt and Jack Brabham. There also were Richie Ginther and Bruce McLaren.
Although not a big commercial success, Grand Prix did win Academy Awards for Best Sound Effects, Best Film Editing and Best Sound in 1967 and gained cult status among racing fans.
The film was released on DVD & HD DVD on July 11, 2006.
The film follows the fate of four Formula One drivers through a fictionalised version of the 1966 Formula One season:
- Jean-Pierre Sarti (played by Montand) - a Frenchman, previously twice world champion, who is nearing the end of his career.
- Pete Aron (played by Garner) - an American, who is on the come-back trail.
- Scott Stoddard (played by Bedford) - a Scotsman, recuperating from an almost fatal crash, and trying to emulate the success of his older brother.
- Nino Barlini (played by Sabato) - an Italian, who is a promising rookie.
There are also two more fictional Formula One drivers:
Sub-plots revolve around the women who try to live with these men with such dangerous life-styles.
The making was a race itself, as John Sturges
and Steve McQueen
planned to make a similar movie titled Day of the Champion
. Due to their contract with the German Nürburgring
, Frankenheimer had to turn over 27 reels shot there to Sturges. Frankenheimer was ahead in schedule anyway, and the McQueen/Sturges project was called off, while the German race track was only mentioned briefly in Grand Prix
The F1 cars in the movie are mostly mocked-up Formula 3 cars made to look like contemporary F1 models, although the film also used footage from actual F1 races. Some of this was captured by Phil Hill, the 1961 World Champion, who drove modified camera cars in some sessions during the 1966 Monaco and Belgian Grands Prix. This was some of the earliest experimentation with in-car cameras for Formula 1.
The level of driving ability of the stars varied wildly - Bedford couldn't drive at all, Sabato was very slow and nervous, Montand himself scared very easily early in filming and was often towed rather than driving the car, but Garner was highly competent and took up racing and entering cars as a result of his involvement in the film.
Adaptation of real racing events
There are many incidents within the film that were inspired by real events in motorsport:
... Pete Aron
Eva Marie Saint
... Louise Frederickson
... Jean-Pierre Sarti
... Izo Yamura
... Scott Stoddard
... Pat Stoddard
... Nino Barlini
... Agostini Manetta
Claude Dauphin ... Hugo Simon
... Monique Delvaux-Sarti
... Jeff Jordan
Donald O'Brien ... Wallace Bennett (as Donal O'Brien)
Jean Michaud ... Children's father