Car movie of the day: ‘Grand Prix’

Innovative filmmaking and real drivers produced a landmark movie about professional racing

Editor’s note: Car guys, and even car girls, can take only so much of those Hallmark holiday movies that fill the airwaves and cable systems this time of year. As an automotive alternative, we’re offering our own suggestions of our favorite car movies for your viewing pleasure. Check out more of our favorite car movies here.

Grand Prix, released in 1966, is arguably the finest film ever produced on motorsports.

Directed by the legendary John Frankenheimer and starring James Garner, the movie stunned theatergoers at its release with its lush Panavision, edgy editing and intense sound. The first 25 minutes of the film take you right behind the wheel at the Monaco Grand Prix, and the riveting action is instantly recognizable as the blueprint for all car movies that followed.

There's certainly an argument that <i>Grand Prix</i> is the best automotive film of all time. | Cherokee Productions Screenshot

There’s certainly an argument that Grand Prix is the best automotive film of all time. | Cherokee Productions Screenshot

It’s perhaps the first movie that addressed the private lives and mortality of these motorized gladiators, and a who’s-who list of real-life professional racers make appearances and lend authenticity throughout.

Yes, there are a couple of romantic subplots within, but it helps to paint the outwardly glamorous picture of racing in the Golden Era of Formula One, contrasting the dark side of a sport with very little forgiveness for error.

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