Year of release: 1964
The car: Formula 1 Ferrari 312
Why it’s special: Blending real racing footage with actors, the star of the fabulous ’60s cavalcade has to be the Ferrari of racing veteran Jean Paul Sarti.
Best bit: The real race footage from circuits including Monaco, Spa and Brands Hatch.
Pub fact: Director Jon Frankenheimer refused to speed up footage of the movie cars (Actually Formula 3 machines) for the film, leading to Yves Montand spinning and finishing the film in a 130mph rig towed behind a GT40. By contract James Garner not only did his own driving, but took part in several informal mini races against the professional drives amongst the crew. He also did his own driving when his car catches fire during a race, leading to a noticeable scar in the final scene. Montand’s character, Jean Paul Sarti, starts the season in a replica of real Ferrari driver John Surtees’ helmet – when Surtees left for Cooper after two races, Montand’s character suddenly switches to the design of his replacement, Mike Parkes, with no explanation. Thirty-two real racers appeared in the film (many uncredited) including Graham Hill, Phil Hill, Jack Brabham, Jim Clark and Bruce McLaren.
Plot overview: Grand Prix follows a fictional account of the 1966 F1 season, concentrating on American Pete Aron, Brit Scott Stoddard, former champion Jean-Paul Sarti and young Italian Nino Barlini. When Aron and Stoddard collide at the Monaco GP, Aron is left without a drive, as Stoddard fights to recover from his injuries and drive again. To compound the rivalry, Aron also begins a brief love affair with Stoddard’s wife, before signing to drive for a Japanese manufacturer struggling for results. Meanwhile veteran Jean-Paul Sarti begins a love affair with an American journalist and looks towards his retirement. As the season draws to a close, it’s between Stoddard, Sarti, Aron and Barlini at the climactic final race.
For: Awesome footage from a time when overtaking wasn’t an unusual event.
Against: The bits in between the racing aren’t exactly spellbinding.
CAR verdict: When Formula 1 was at its most glamourous, and most terrifying.
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