|Image courtesy of www.stylemetothemoon.com|
|Hermann Lang on the Nurburgring Nordschliefe (image coutesy of www.ausringers.com)|
One of the most fascinating pieces of motor sport film I've seen is not even a race but merely a 'demo', but the combination of driver, car and circuit is absolutely unique. It's taken from the Shell archive and it's Bill Mason's 1962 film of Hermann Lang taking the Mercedes W125 around the Nurburgring, if that wasn't enough the voice over is by Graham Hill. This was of course well before the use of miniature cameras that can be strapped to the cockpit so Bill got the shots by putting one of his cameramen on a seat strapped to the tail! It must have been frightening but the results are incredible.
|Although not taken from the Shell shoot this still shows the type apparatus used to get that unique 'in - car' footage. Image courtesy of blog.axisofoversteer.com|
A story of Industrial espionage where ' ...the attempt to headhunt an Italian car designer ends in theft, corruption and murder.' Recently re-mastered so the wonderful early colour cinematography really does bring Italy alive in this classic 1956 British movie. It features genuine footage from the Mille Miglia so there's plenty of Ferraris, Astons and Porsches all sounding fantastic.
Wealthy team owner Warren Ingram (James Robertson Justice) has a collection of motor racing art and models in his London office that most of us would give our right hand for. I often found myself looking at the stuff in the background rather than listening to the dialogue but the plot is pretty straightforward so don't worry you won't get lost - it's no 'Inception'!
The city of Florence looks perfect in the Italian sunshine as do the period outfits but I was a little surprised to see a Le Mans style start in the city square...!
|Image courtesy of www.shop.tcm.com|
Steve McQueen was not one to trouble the typists too much in the script department as nobody says anything for the first 40 minutes but that doesn't detract from the wonderful atmospheric shots of the build up to the 1970 24 hour race. One can't help but feel this film was one of sheer self indulgence on McQueen's part but we can still take huge enjoyment from the superb cinematography. We've all heard the stories from the contemporary racing drivers of the period who drove the cars in the film -David Piper, Derek Bell, Richard Attwood et al - blocking McQueen between their cars through the esses scaring him to death, coming out of corners at racing speeds to find McQueen lying flat in the road holding a camera to get the ultimate shot. What McQueen did achieve though was a film that many enthusiasts believe to be the definitive motor racing movie but be prepared to watch it alone, I've yet to meet a woman who can sit through the full 104 minutes.
|image courtesy of www.pricerunner.co.uk|
'The Goodwood Revival - The First Ten Years'.
I find myself going back to this DVD again and again. Documenting what has become the greatest historic race meeting in the world this seems to have it all - edge of your seat drama from those great duels such as Sytner and Brooks in the '50s sports cars, emotion as Barry Sheene tells us he's diagnosed with cancer and wonder as we witness the expertise of drivers such as Peter Hardman in the Le Mans winning Aston Martin. Touching tributes from racing greats which have sadly since departed such as Carroll Shelby and Phil Hill give the film even more gravitas.The added bonus is that it is also free from pantomime TV presenters...
|image courtesy of www.coastal181.com|
This is the one everybody remembers but I've not seen it for many years. I was never a fan of leading man James Garner as 'The Rockford Files' always reminded me of boring wet afternoons in front of the TV at my Grandmother's house. Frankenheimer's movie is worth returning to if only to spot the F1 drivers of the day in the background - Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill amongst them. The circuits can't help but impress and the Monza banking is daunting, so different to today's modern circuits. The race sequences certainly get the adrenaline pumping and they capture the anxiety, excitement and inevitably the danger of racing F1 cars in the 60s.
|image courtesy of www.staticmass.net|
This is the big one. It's not a period of motor racing I'm particularly interested in but this film is all about the man. On the surface and viewed through the press at the time he was not an attractive character but what this beautifully crafted film does, using purely archive footage and no 'presenter' voice over, is show the committed, almost obsessive, spiritual driver Senna was. Prost was not his only rival, Frenchman Jean Marie Balestre, the FISA and FIA president made some astonishing decisions at the time and that all fed into Senna's psyche. We all know how the film ends but the raw footage of Senna's accident as well as Ratzenberger's and Barrichello's that fateful weekend at Imola in 1994 never fails to shock.
In The Pipeline...
After many years of pretty poor fare the success of Senna has (hopefully) heralded a new dawn for the motor racing movie. The release of Ron Howard's film 'Rush' which portrays the epic battle between Hunt and Lauda for the 1976 world championship should be coming soon. Howard has 'Cocoon', 'A Beautiful Mind' and 'Apollo 13' amongst others on his Director's CV so my hopes are high for this one.
|Daniel Bruhl plays Niki Lauda and Chris Hemsworth is James Hunt in Ron Howard's 'Rush'. (image courtesy of www.rush-movie.blogspot.com)|
|The real thing - Hunt and Lauda on the podium.|
The release though which I'm positively itching to see is 'La Scuderia'. Coming off the back of his success with 'Senna' the writer Manish Pandey has got backing for his version of the story of Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins competing for the 1957 and '58 world championship whilst driving for Ferrari.
|The story of Hawthorn and Collins at Ferrari will be told in Manish Pandey's new film 'La Scuderia'. (Image courtesy of www.driversnirvana.wordpress.com)|
Now is it time to go racing again...?