Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Racing > Drama > Large Frame Format > Grand Prix (1966/HD-DVD)

Grand Prix (1966/HD-DVD)


Picture: A†††† Sound: B†††† Extras: B+†††† Film: B+



To put it directly, despite being a 40 year old film, the HD-DVD version of John Frankenheimerís incredible (and incredibly underrated) 70mm/Cinerama racing epic Grand Prix from 1966 is now the best single title out in the HD-DVD or Blu-ray formats in its incredible new HD-DVD edition.No disc offers more interesting color, detail, depth, ivory whites, jet blacks, accurate reds or clarity than this film.And we thought the restoration for the standard DVD looked good.


To read about the film and films like it, you can access our review on the DVD set at:





Besides being still the best film in a cycle of such films that was recently celebrated to some extent in the highly entertaining computer animated Disney feature Cars (2006), I think there are some more complex things going on in parts of this film than it might seem at first.For one thing, instead of just being a montage of sloppy, useless, fancy editing with no point, there is a deep love, grasp, understanding, the sport, the science, the art and the experience of what makes racing cars great.The way Stanley Kubrickís 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) takes you through time and space, this film takes you through and into the world of racing no video game, digital effects or amusement park simulations have yet to scratch the surface of 40 years and counting.


Frankenheimer is one of the great American filmmakers and his is a cinema of the adult and real world, of what it is to go out there and get your hands dirty.It is one of retaining your dignity as you try to reach great goals and great truths.It is one of intelligent people who can deal with their selves and sexuality seamlessly as they find their goals obstructed by people in a real world where not everyone is your friend.With a cast of often-clashing characters played by James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, Yves Montand, Toshiro Mifune, Jessica Walter, Antonio Sabato (Sr.), Adolfo Celi, Genevieve Page, Albert Remy and many real-life racing legends mixed in for good measure, the film has off-track action often as intense as the races themselves.


Of course, Frankenheimer is at the top of his form and he is one of the few filmmakers then or now who could have put this all on the screen and then make it work.For a 3-hour film, it seems shorter than most of the 90-minute digitally degraded, color-gutted rip-offs that get sent en masse to cineplexes each week.This is the work of a master filmmaker who has the right resources, studio backing, situation, material and subject matter at the right time.



The 1080p 2.20 X 1 digital High Definition image is the new high watermark to beat and the DVD may have been one of the best in the format we have seen to date, but the restoration work and striking of a new 70mm print from the 65mm negative has yielded stunning results that honestly make this as amazing-looking a film as I have ever seen on any 5-inch video format!


That is no exaggeration.Besides what I said in the opening of this review, this disc makes the film what Frankenheimer, his longtime cinematographer Lionel Lindon, A.S.C., and titles, advanced optical printing and montage designer Saul Bass intended it to be: a major cinematic event.Realistic, exciting, intense, involving and rich in visual experience and ideas to match the strong, smart, honest, mature screenplay by Robert Alan Aurthur (a Frankenheimer friend from their live TV days, with additional dialogue from William Hanley) makes this one of the most underrated films of the 1960s.


The film was shot in 65mm negative, and (to repeat some of the DVD reviews technical aspects) those materials were also cut into three Cinerama strips to project in an even wider 2.76 X 1 blow-up in that great system and the sound derives from the 6-track magnetic stereo where five of the tracks were behind the Cinerama or 70mm screen.That means there is traveling dialogue and sound effects, recaptured very well here.Looking good in MetroColor, 65mm negative offers new color possibilities digital has years to catch up with, looking incredible here. Oh, and the extra 5mmís on the print were for magnetic sound striping.


Personally, I would now rank this as my fourth favorite 65/70mm-produced film behind Kubrickís 2001: A Space Odyssey, Sir David Leanís Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Jacques Tatiís Playtime (1967) as masterworks of that particular large-frame format.Like those films, the makers knew how to use the large frame format without it being stale, boring, showy or simply gimmicky by showing off superior picture fidelity only.It was very innovative visually and those innovations are yet to be fully realized.


As for sound, though I still wish there was DTS of some kind or Dolby TrueHD to capture the amazing soundtrack and interesting score by Maurice Jarre, The Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix is just that much better than the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 and has enough punch to bring the reconfigures 6-track magnetic stereo to life in a more lively way closer to how great the magnetic tracks would sound when first played fresh and dry for the first week or so on such a great print.35mm reduction prints had poorer sound, but is skipped for this presentation.


Lindon also collaborated with Frankenheimer on other films, including the original (and only, as far as we are concerned) Manchurian Candidate available for now on DVD (and soon we hope in Blu-ray) that can be read about at this link:





Finally, the same excellent extras are here from the double set you can go to at the top of the pageís review link, but you have got to see the film first.Frankenheimer later revisited the excitement of the racing though the brilliant car chases in his underrated 1997 Spy thriller Ronin.With this film coming out as early as it has in HD-DVD, Grand Prix should finally get some long overdue respect and reconsideration as the remarkable work it is.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com