Editor’s update: Shelby American can be viewed on Netflix.
Last week, in a small theater just off Alvarado Street in downtown Monterey, California, the rough cut of a documentary film made its debut. Though it will be overshadowed this fall when another film on the same topic figures to become a box-office hit, the one that auto enthusiasts will want to see is this one, titled Shelby American.
Two comments from the audience that got to share in the initial viewing:
“One of the upcoming films will be entertaining and the other will be factual,” one viewer noted.
“Brutally honest,” said one audience member after the lights came back on.
The Hollywood-style and entertaining version opens in theaters on November 15. It’s Ford v Ferrari, starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale.
There are no movie star actors in Shelby American. It’s purely a documentary that features vintage footage and more-recent interviews with those who were with Carroll Shelby during his colorful life, from family members and racers to members of the Ford family.
Shelby American is produced by comedian, vintage racer and car collector Carolla via his Chassy Media, and it is directed by his business partner Nate Adams, whose credits include screenwriting, films, television projects, commercials and even a video game.
Carolla and Adams previously have produced Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman and The 24 Hour War, their documentary on the Ford vs. Ferrari competition at Le Mans, a film which now becomes a companion piece for Shelby American.
The new movie, currently set for release in late October, provides a documentary look at Shelby’s life and how he became an American icon. Carolla and Adams worked with the Shelby family for 18 months to fill in the blanks in the publicly known Shelby story. Many of the images in the movie, including some early racing movie footage, had long been hidden away and is being shared for the first time.
“He lived like five lives, and with a heart condition,” Adams said after the screening, adding that it was a challenge to tell that story as fully as possible while limiting the movie to less than 120 minutes.
We won’t go into any of the detail of what the documentary shares — and reveals — but we will say that even if you think you know the full story of Carroll Shelby, you will understand the man with renewed — and with new — understanding after watching this film.