OK, I may be biased, but the amount of stars and future stars in this film, along with the amazing race footage of classic cars will always keep this movie in the top ten comedies and top ten of my favorite car films of all time. Watch it once for the story and the comedy, then watch it again for the amazing footage of turn of the century cars really being pushed to the limit and driven hard! This film was an homage to all the Keystone Cops and Buster Keaton era car stunts that all of the world had seen and enjoyed in their youth at the dawn of movies, and they did a “bang up” job! Hats off to the stunt men on this film too!
Jack Lemon’s performance as Prof. Fate, along with Peter Faulk (aka Columbo) as Max his dimwitted assistant are the highlight of the film. I got a chance to spend some time with Mr. Lemon and asked about the film and he obviously enjoyed every minute of filming, except the second day of the pie fight. (The first day was fun, then they had to put on the costumes from the day before covered with old merengue and pie crusts. He said the smell was horrendous!)
BEST PIE FIGHT EVER OF ALL TIME!
Luckily all of the original screen used cars are still around, and had been hidden away for many years before SCC member Jerry W. bought them, and had them put on display at the Volo museum.
The actual Professor Fate Great Race vehicles, now owned by a StarCarCentral.com member are on display for the first time in nearly 4 decades! Three vehicles from the famed Warner Bros. movie, The Great Race with legendary stars Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood and Tony Curtis and a cast of thousands! The Great Race was one of the most expensive and advanced movies of its time. Its production cost in 1964 was $8 million. These Professor Fate vehicles, untill now, had not left the borders of California since their construction in 1964. After their release from Warner Bros. they became one of the prime attractions at the world famous Movie World museum in Burbank, where they were on display until the museum closed its doors in the late ‘70’s. The cars, along with the rest of the Movie World collection, did not see the light of day for nearly 3 decades until 1993 when a portion of the collection was offered for sale at an elite auction and that’s when our Jerry purchased the trio for his private collection.
The Hannibal 8 custom built by Warner Bros at a cost of $150,000 ($150,000 in 1964 is equivalent to over $1 million today). All hand constructed, it is a true work of art. Powered by a Corvair 6 cyl and 3 speed manual transmission; all 4 rear wheels are powered and chain driven. The car remains in its original un-restored condition as when it was used on the movie set. Still fully operational this beauty does actually run and drive! It was assigned a VIN, has a title and can be registered. Original documents include full history and Warner bros title from 1964.
As this was long befor CGI, everything had to be made so it actually worked! Scissor lifts, smoke screens, firing cannon, these cars were really a tribute to the car/prop builders that worked on the film.
The Rocket Car is actually functional! Special effects include gas nozzles inside the prop rockets provide flames for propulsion effects. It drives and rides on rails and is powered by a Corvair 6 cyl but with an automatic transmission. It is in its original un-restored condition as when it left the film set. In the film, Prof. Fate and his assistant Max try to break a speed record on rail, but go airborne in a hilarious fashion.
Then there is the NOISE seeking Torpedo, complete with its screen used trailer! This torpedo is originally fitted with an electric motor and actually floats! The rudder turns side to side as does the “hearing apparatus”. Again, in true “good guy, bad guy” fashion, Prof. Fate’s attempt to stop the Great Leslie in his speedboat, but instead it comes after Fate and Max to end badly once again for the villians! Only a big budget comedy could have ever created something like this just for a quick gag! How great that they are all together!
Jerry was glad to be able to display these at the Volo Museum, but with a VIN number and registration I want that Hannibal 8 back here in California and lets start driving it, Jerry! The cannon sure would help in traffic!
Yeah, I know, Tony Curtis had a cool car too, “the Great Leslie” had a pretty white car, but until I meet an owner who wants to come out and play with the SCC, only Jerry’s Prof Fate vehicles will get their own blog! MAX! PUSH THE BUTTON!