The Great Race

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Oct 10, 2012 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Want more from your movie viewing than entertainment? I do, too, especially when watching movies with our daughter. We love to explore movies about the world (and that’s another post) – and watch old movies. We’ve discussed and learned so much, from the history of motion pictures (Singing in the Rain) to hope, dance, and inspiration in war-torn Uganda (War/Dance). But one of the most fun movies we’ve watched together that explored history –and the world – is the 1965 comedy, The Great Race.

The Great Race

Starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Natalie Wood, The Great Race is a masterpiece of slapstick comedy. The extra bonus? Music by Henry Mancini! The plot is both simple and zany – two daredevils embark on a car race – from New York to Paris. Of course, there is the usual good vs. evil scenario. The Great Leslie (Curtis) dresses all in white – he’s the quintessential hero. Evil? None other than black-dressed Professor Fate (Lemmon). Then throw in a reporter (Wood) for the romantic element (as well as some early women’s rights, thank you!). 

There are strong elements of classic visual gags (a la Laurel and Hardy), a plethora of slapstick humor, parodies of western films/a desert sheik/a mad scientist, and plenty of scenes that probably were state of the art, but with today’s CGI movies as a standard, look remarkably old. Use these ancient (to your kids) scenes to talk about how movies, technology, and industries change.

The movie travels around the world – we love the iceberg scene – and shows different parts of the world, as seen through the eyes of the characters. While I am sure your kids see different parts of the world via media ever day, there’s something about a RTW (Round the World) trip that sparks your imagination.

 

And the best part?? A PIE FIGHT!!

 

Filming the pie fight took 5 days – and very colorful pies were used, to create a better visual for Technicolor. Guess how many pies were thrown - 4,000! And, in the pie fight, there’s a “super funny part at the end” (says our daughter) that makes the whole movie worth watching again.

When we finished watching The Great Race, we assembled three whipped cream “pies” and went outside.  And then, we went to town. Did you know that whipped cream stains? (Wear old clothes!). Did you also know that whipped cream, in a pie tin, can be used multiple times, to smear around the extras? Did you know we couldn’t stop laughing for a long time?

The Great Race - pie fight recreation

The Great Race - pie fight recreation

The next time you’re looking for something to fit the bill for family movie night, I highly recommend The Great Race. You’ll travel the globe, laugh at how the world used to be, and then – if you’re prepared – have a Great Pie Fight of your own.  No thanks necessary – I know you’ll love it.