In 1966 director John Frankenheimer, a race car enthusiast, was able to realize a long-cherished dream: to make a film about the Grand Prix racing circuit focusing on several drivers and their personal lives off the track. The result, Grand Prix, is still considered the ultimate racing film, due to its spectacular cinematography that puts the viewer in the driver’s seat with its Cinerama format, split-screen technique and immersive audio. According to the director, it cost about $10.5 million to make, was a box office hit and garnered three Oscars for Best Sound, Best Film Editing and Best Sound Effects. What many people failed to notice was that director Roger Corman had already made a film about the Grand Prix racing circuit three years earlier entitled The Young Racers (1963), which was made on location in Europe like Frankenheimer’s epic with exciting racing footage from Monte Carlo, Monaco, Rome, Rouen (France) and Spa (Belgium) and it cost less than half a million to make. Sure, it was a B-movie from American International Pictures (AIP) but it had a glossy, big budget look to it unlike the typical AIP product and it added some invocative twists to a formulaic genre film that often seemed influenced by the aesthetics of the French New Wave (Corman has always been a fan of European art cinema).Continue reading
Tag Archives: William Campbell
High School Was Never Like This!
Among the many peculiar assemblages of cast and crew in Hollywood history, Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971) is in a class by itself. A black comedy set in a California high school where someone is murdering female students, the film marked the U.S. film debut of French director Roger Vadim (Barbarella, 1968) with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry producing and writing the screenplay. Mix in a number of seasoned Hollywood professionals (Rock Hudson, Angie Dickinson, Roddy McDowall, Keenan Wynn, William Campbell) with a hip, younger cast of aspiring actors and starlets. Top it off with a music score by Lalo Schifrin (Mission: Impossible, 1996) and a theme song co-written by Christian music mogul Mike Curb and sung by The Osmonds. And the result is a delicious guilty pleasure for some and a cringe-inducing embarrassment for others. There is no middle ground here unless you choose to view the film as a sociology experiment. Continue reading