Saturday Double Feature – Ford v Ferrari (2019) and…

Okay, let’s start with a quick recap of the “rules”, shall we? The basic idea here is to take a movie that is out in theaters now, and pair it up with another movie from the 1980s or before. Sometimes the connection will be obvious, and sometimes it’ll be a little less so, but that’s part of the fun.

ff1When I first heard the title Ford v Ferrari, I have to admit I had no idea at all what the movie was about. Probably some kind of Fast and Furious rip-off was my first thought.

As it turns out, the movie is about the rivalry between Henry Ford II, Lee Iacoca, and Enzo Ferrari. It seems that in 1963, Ford tried to buy Ferrari, a move which might have happened, except that Ferrari didn’t want to let go of his Formula 1 racing team, which held complete domination of the sport at the time.

Enraged by the rejection, Ford became determined to build a car which would knock Ferrari out of the top spot, and he hired Caroll Shelby and Ken Miles to design the car. I’ll let you guess how the movie progresses from there, but it all ends with a big showdown at the 24 hours of LeMans race in 1966.

So what older movie would provide a good double feature with FvF? Well, the obvious choice would be 1971’s Le Mans starring Steve McQueen as a driver in the ’71 version of the race depicted in FvF, however, as a friend pointed out while we were discussing it, that might be just a little too obvious. For the record, though, I highly recommend seeing LeMans if you haven’t. Hey, it’s Steve McQueen in a car flick… can you really go wrong with that?

Okay, so with that one out of the running, where do you go? Well, if there’s one thing I know to be true in this life it’s that you can never go wrong turning to the late, great James Garner.

gp1With John Frankenheimer in the director’s chair shooting in 70mm Super Panavision, 1966’s Grand Prix may not be the best racing movie ever made, but no one can deny that it is full of stars and spectacle. The cast includes Eve Maries Saint, Brian Bedford, Yves Montaud, Jessica Walter, Antonio Sabato, and Toshiro Mifune, along with cameos from real-life race drivers such as Phil Hill, Graham Hill, Jim Clark, and Jack Brabham. It also features footage that was shot during actual races on the F1 circuit.

Grand Prix had a unique road to the screen as Frankenheimer was able to leverage his connections to various real-life drivers to get permission to shoot at the races even though it meant disrupting many of the drivers’ usual schedules and training days. he even went so far as to stop production after shooting at Monte Carlo, cut together a 30 minute prodution reel which was shown to Ferrari management, and they were so impressed that they subsequently allowed him to even shoot on their production floor and helped¬† him gain even more access to the races and drivers.

Frankenheimer has stated (and I’m paraphrasing here) that there were really two ways he could go with the movie, focusing either on the more technical aspects of the racing or playing up the behind-the-scenes almost soap-opera aspects of life on the circuit, and he eventually decided to go the latter route. Whether that was the right choice I think really depends upon the viewer and what they want from this type of movie.

The plot of the film basically follows four main drivers through an entire season of the Formula One season, focusing not only on them, but also on the people such¬† as their wives and lovers and team members as they risk life and limb in these races. Thos focus does not, however take away from the stunning race footage that Frankenheimer and his cinematographer, Lionel Lindon, were able to capture, as you’ll see in the trailer.

And speaking of the trailer, here it is now. Enjoy! And then go check out the whole thing,