Cast & Crew
Lee J. Cobb
On the day of the qualifying runs for the Grand Prix at Monte Carlo, race car driver Gino Borgesa meets ballerina Nicole Laurent, when she gives him a hairpin to repair an engine part. Both the arrogant, ambitious Gino and the lovely Nicole are immediately attracted to each other, but after Gino has qualified and is making another lap to break the record time, Nicole's poodle runs into the road and Gino's car is destroyed when he swerves to avoid the dog. That night, Nicole sends for Gino and apologizes, and Gino, who does not race for any of companies such as Ferrari or Mazzarati, bitterly states that only money can repair his lost dream of becoming Europe's greatest racer. When Gino drives Nicole to her hotel, he warns her to stay where she belongs, but Nicole replies that she belongs to herself. Later that night, Count Paul Salom, Nicole's friend and former lover, realizes that Nicole has fallen hard for Gino and gives her the money to buy him a new car. Soon after, Nicole is in the cheering section as Gino and his mechanic, Piero, drive in Italy's thousand-mile Mille Miglia race. Gino's main competition is veteran driver Dell `Oro, of the famed Team Burano, and despite a cracked battery, Gino wins the race. Maglio, Burano's manager, is wary of Gino's "flashy" driving, but Carlos Chavez, another veteran team member, urges him to hire Gino as a reserve driver. That night, Gino tells Nicole that she should leave him before his love for her makes him overly cautious when he races, and before worry over his safety threatens her well-being. Nicole insists that she is a "big girl" and will know when to leave, and soon, Gino joins Burano and Nicole becomes friends with Maria, Carlos' wife. In Germany, Nicole is horrified when a mechanic is accidentally killed on the track, but an elated Gino, who placed third in the race, caustically tells her that such accidents are normal risks of the game. Nicole admits that it is time for her to leave Gino, but cannot resist attending his next race in Brussels, in which Gino is injured in a crash. At the hospital, Dr. Segers, mistaking Nicole for Gino's wife, tells her that the unconscious Gino is in serious danger of death unless his leg is amputated, and that she must make the decision. Knowing that Gino would be unable to live without racing, Nicole orders the doctor not to amputate, and luckily, Gino lives. Nicole nurses Gino back to health, and although he is left with a limp and tremendous pain in his leg, his desire to race remains unabated. The next season, Nicole begs Maglio to allow Gino to return to the team, and despite Maglio's lingering distaste for Gino's driving tactics, he reinstates Gino. During the Grand Prix di Monza, Dell `Oro is injured and unable to relieve Gino, who is forced to finish the long, grueling race alone. Despite the pain, Gino wins, and as the season progresses, Gino climbs to the top of the world champion official list. Gino's reputation as a ruthless daredevil with no consideration for the safety of others also grows, as does his reliance on painkillers. At the beginning of the new season, in Monte Carlo, sportswriter Dahlgren teases Gino about almost being beaten by an unknown, French driver Michel Caron, and when the admiring Michel introduces himself, Gino cruelly tells the young man that he needs more than luck to become a good driver. Nicole is infuriated by Gino's cavalier attitude, and when Gino and Dell `Oro leave to test-drive a new car, Michel rescues her from the advances of the amorous Baron Vandam. Late that night, when Gino returns, Nicole begs him to take some time off, but he refuses. Soon after, at Nüburgring, Germany, the team hosts a special race to celebrate Carlos' retirement. Although Gino and Carlos are good friends, and Maglio has ordered the other team drivers to allow Carlos to win, Gino's overwhelming competitiveness is sparked when Michel, now a reserve driver for the team, enters the race. Gino's recklessness in his quest for victory forces Carlos off the track, and an enraged Maria tells Nicole that she has to leave Gino for her own good. When Gino tries to blame Carlos for the accident, Nicole scornfully rejects his excuses and storms off. Months later, Gino has fallen to number seven in the world standings, and goes to Monte Carlo to beg Nicole to return to him. Nicole, who is now being romanced by Michel, accuses Gino of being obsessed by winning, and refuses. Later, at the same Monte Carlo race in which he met Nicole, Gino struggles to maintain the lead. When Dell `Oro spins off the track, however, Gino leaves the competition to tend to his injured friend. After Dell `Oro is taken off in an ambulance, Gino re-enters the race, and during a pit stop, is informed by Maglio that his friend will recover. Nicole, who has joined the audience, smiles her approval at Gino for sacrificing the race to help his teammate, and despite the fact that he cannot win, Gino happily returns to the track behind the triumphant Michel.
Lee J. Cobb
Jack Del Rio
Eddie Le Baron
Francesca De Scaffa
James B. Clark
E. De Graffenried
Harry M. Leonard
Edward B. Powell
Walter M. Scott
Pierce Van Warmer
Louis J. Witte
The Racers - The Racers
The movie begins with a narrator (Carleton Young) informing the viewers how Monte Carlo racing works, how teams are assembled and how money plays an important role while independent racers, like Gino, must struggle. A young woman, Nicole (Bella Darvi), strikes up a conversation about racing with Gino as he works on his car and wishes him luck, something he tells her she should never do. Wishing luck to a driver is bad luck, as he's about to learn. Shortly after, as he begins his test run for the next day's pole position, Nicole's poodle runs across the track in pursuit of a cat and Gino is forced to swerve his car off the track, destroying it.
Gino is understandably upset about this new misfortune and Nicole feels guilty, setting Gino up with a new car. The two become involved but racing comes first for Gino. After a serious accident, Gino pays a doctor to supply him with painkillers and pays him more money to keep quiet. Tension mounts as Gino's recklessness on the track collides with Nicole's alienation from him and his sport.
That great Hollywood warhorse, Henry Hathaway, directs the action and makes it surprisingly thrilling by keeping the camera directly in front of the cars, rarely using long shots or static side shots of cars passing by. Hathaway's camera is almost always on the track, going just as fast as the cars, and when he has to photograph the actors up close in front of a rear-projection screen, he keeps the camera tight on their faces and shakes the frame, to make it more difficult to distinguish the obvious change from real race track to Hollywood studio.
The cast is made up of some of the best talent Hollywood had to offer. Kirk Douglas brings his usual intense energy to the role and makes the selfish and singularly focused Gino more, ahem, driven than most actors would have the nerve to do. Lee J. Cobb, Cesar Romero, Gilbert Roland and Katy Jurado fill out a cast of great supporting players who bring more to their roles than, perhaps, the script asks for. Or maybe Hathaway had a way of getting the best from his actors no matter the material. And it's not that the material's bad, just that it's centered on Gino, with everyone else left to do little but react to him.
The saddest story of The Racers comes from the lead actress, Bella Darvi. Born Bayla Wegier, she and her family endured the Holocaust in Europe. While she made it out alive, her brother, Robert, perished in a concentration camp in Poland. Later, she spent her days drinking and gambling in Monaco where she was discovered by Darryl F. Zanuck and his wife, Virginia Fox. They paid off her debts, changed her name to Bella Darvi (the last name came from the first three letters of "Darryl" and the first two letters of "Virginia") and prepped her to become a Hollywood star. Sadly, it never came to be. After three starring roles, in The Egyptian, Hell and High Water (both 1954) and, of course, The Racers, her star never shone brightly enough, at least not as much as was expected. She became Zanuck's lover but the relationship soured and she went back to gambling. She made a dozen more films in France and Italy before taking her own life in 1972 at the age of 42. The Polish actress never became a star but she will always be remembered for her grace and beauty.
The Racers is a better drama than it is a racing film, focusing more on the ego and reckless personality of its anti-hero, Gino, than on racing. There is no big race that he must win or train for. In fact, all of his major victories are detailed in a simple montage of newspaper headlines announcing the victories. The focus here is on the character, the racing being just a means to an end. Of course, it's directed by Henry Hathaway, so the means are pretty thrilling nonetheless. And Kirk Douglas is, as always, a pleasure to watch. Forget the cars, Douglas is the real engine that drives the movie. And he drives it right into the winner's circle.
By Greg Ferrara
Directed by: Henry Hathaway Written by: Charles Kaufman Produced by: Julian Blaustein Original Music: Alex North Cinematography: Joseph MacDonald Film Editing: James B. Clark Production Design: George Patrick, Lyle R. Wheeler Cast: Kirk Douglas (Gino Borgesa), Bella Darvi (Nicole), Gilbert Roland (Dell'Oro), Cesar Romero (Carlos Chavez), Lee J. Cobb (Maglio), Katy Jurado (Maria Chávez)
SOURCES: Wikipedia IMDB
The Racers - The Racers
TCM Remembers - Katy Jurado
KATY JURADO, 1924 - 2002
Katy Jurado, an Oscar nominee and major actress in Westerns, died July 5th at the age of 78. She was born in Guadalajara, Mexico on January 16th 1924 as Maria Cristina Estella Marcela Jurado Garcia, daughter of a cattle rancher and an opera singer. Jurado started to appear in Mexican films in 1943. After 15 films in her native country, director Budd Boetticher saw Jurado attending a bullfight (Jurado wrote about the subject for Mexican newspapers) and cast her in his Bullfighter and the Lady (1952), her Hollywood debut. For much of her career Jurado alternated between the two film industries. In the US, she was memorable for the sensual energy she brought to roles in High Noon (1952), One-Eyed Jacks (1961) which was directed by Marlon Brando, Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) and John Huston's Under the Volcano (1984). She was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for Broken Lance (1954). Jurado's Mexican films were in a broader range of genres and included Luis Bunuel's El Bruto (1952), Ismael Rodriguez's We the Poor and Miguel Littin's The Widow Montiel (1979). She won three Ariel Awards (Mexican equivalent to the Oscars) and one special award. She was married to Ernest Borgnine from the end of 1959 to summer 1963. One of her final films was The Hi-Lo Country (1998), a contemporary Western directed by Stephen Frears and co-starring Woody Harrelson, Billy Crudup and Penelope Cruz.
by Lang Thompson
DOLORES GRAY, 1924 - 2002
Broadway and nightclub star Dolores Gray died June 26th at the age of 78. Her movie career was brief but consisted of high-profile MGM musicals which guaranteed her a place in film history. Gray was born in Chicago on June 7th, 1924 (and where, according to a common story, she was accidentally shot by a gangster as a child and had a bullet in her lung her entire life). As a teenager she began singing in California until Rudy Vallee featured her on his radio show. Gray moved to Broadway in 1944 and then to the London stage in 1947, solidifying her reputation as a singer/actress while constantly giving the gossip columnists plenty to write about. She had two small singing roles in Lady for a Night (1941) and Mr. Skeffington (1944) but didn't really light up the big screen until It's Always Fair Weather (1955) even though Gray reportedly didn't much care for the role. Her rendition of "Thanks a Lot, But No Thanks," which has her gunning down a slew of male dancers on-stage and kicking them through trap doors, is a genuine showstopper. Three more unforgettable musical roles quickly followed: Kismet (1955), The Opposite Sex (1956, which Gray turned down Funny Face to do) and Designing Women (1957). That was it for Gray's film career. She kept busy with TV appearances (mostly singing though she did one 1988 episode of the cult show Dr. Who) and a busy recording and nightclub schedule. In 1987, she appeared in a British production of Follies at Stephen Sondheim's request.
by Lang Thompson
ROD STEIGER, 1925 - 2002
From the docks of New York to the rural back roads of Mississippi to the war torn Russian steppes, Rod Steiger reveled in creating some of the most overpowering and difficult men on the screen. He could be a total scoundrel, embodying Machiavelli's idiom that "it's better to be feared than loved" in the movies. But as an actor he refused to be typecast and his wide range included characters who were secretly tormented (The Pawnbroker, 1965) or loners (Run of the Arrow, 1965) or eccentrics (The Loved One, 1965).
Along with Marlon Brando, Steiger helped bring the 'Method School' from the Group Theater and Actors Studio in New York to the screens of Hollywood. The Method technique, taught by Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, insisted on complete immersion into the character's psyche and resulted in intense, dramatic performances and performers. Steiger made his first significant screen appearance as Brando's older brother in On the Waterfront (1954). Their climatic scene together in a taxicab is one of the great moments in American cinema.
It was a short leap from playing a crooked lawyer in On the Waterfront to playing the shady boxing promoter in The Harder They Fall (1956). Based on the tragic tale of true-life fighter Primo Carnera, The Harder They Fall details the corruption behind the scenes of professional boxing bouts. Steiger is a fight manager named Nick Benko who enlists newspaperman Eddie Willis (Humphrey Bogart in his final screen appearance) to drum up publicity for a fixed prizefight. While the boxing scenes were often brutally realistic, the most powerful dramatic moments took place between Steiger and Bogart on the sidelines.
As mob boss Al Capone (1959), Steiger got to play another man you loved to hate. He vividly depicted the criminal from his swaggering early days to his pathetic demise from syphilis. In Doctor Zhivago (1965), Steiger was the only American in the international cast, playing the hateful and perverse Komarovsky. During the production of Dr. Zhivago, Steiger often found himself at odds with director David Lean. Schooled in the British tradition, Lean valued the integrity of the script and demanded that actors remain faithful to the script. Steiger, on the other hand, relied on improvisation and spontaneity. When kissing the lovely Lara (played by Julie Christie), Steiger jammed his tongue into Christie's mouth to produce the desired reaction - disgust. It worked! While it might not have been Lean's approach, it brought a grittier edge to the prestige production and made Komarovsky is a detestable but truly memorable figure.
Steiger dared audiences to dislike him. As the smalltown southern Sheriff Gillespie in In The Heat of the Night (1967), Steiger embodied all the prejudices and suspicions of a racist. When a black northern lawyer, played by Sidney Poitier, arrives on the crime scene, Gillespie is forced to recognize his fellow man as an equal despite skin color. Here, Steiger's character started as a bigot and developed into a better man. He finally claimed a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance as Sheriff Gillespie.
Steiger was an actor's actor. A chameleon who didn't think twice about diving into challenging roles that others would shy away from. In the Private Screenings interview he did with host Robert Osborne he admitted that Paul Muni was one of his idols because of his total immersion into his roles. Steiger said, "I believe actors are supposed to create different human beings." And Steiger showed us a rich and diverse cross section of them.
by Jeremy Geltzer & Jeff Stafford
TCM Remembers - Katy Jurado
The working title of this film was The Racer. As noted by studio publicity, author Hans Ruesch was a former European racing champion. In March 1953, Daily Variety reported that when Twentieth Century-Fox purchased the rights to Ruesch's novel, it was the first studio to acquire the rights to an original "35-cent paper-book edition" rather than a best-selling hardback. The article also quoted a studio representative as stating that the property was bought specifically because it would be good for CinemaScope presentation.
According to August 1954 Hollywood Reporter news items, Robert Stack was originally cast as "Michel Caron," but after being cast in another film, was replaced by John Hudson. An Hollywood Reporter news item included Carl Esmond in the cast but he was not in the released film. Additional news items include the following actors in the cast, although their appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed: Tony De Mario, Peter Ortiz, Mercedes Marlowe, Richard Devon, Mary Carroll, Phil Hill, Dave Sykes, Harry Hanford, Hale Chase, Jerry Hill, Charles Sorillo and Genevieve Aumont. Contemporary sources reported that several technical innovations aided production, including a 4-inch telescopic CinemaScope lens allowing the cinematographer to shoot close-ups of the cast as they were driving, and a "Selsyn quadrant," developed by Joe MacDonald and Pierce Van Warmer, that allowed the lenses to be remote-controlled, thereby reducing danger to the photography team during the racing sequences.
According to a February 19, 1955 Los Angeles Examiner article, The Racers was the first CinemaScope picture shot in De Luxe color, rather than the standard Technicolor. Although contemporary news items and reviews reported that extensive background filming was done at actual race sites throughout Europe, including France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany, studio publicity noted that a great deal of the picture was shot on the studio backlot. The film marked the screen debut of Hudson. The Racers was also the last picture produced for Fox by Julian Blaustein, whose long-term contract with the studio was terminated in December 1954 by mutual consent, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item.
In mid-December 1956, TCF Television Productions presented a thirty-minute television show entitled Men Against Speed, which was broadcast by the CBS network, directed by Albert Rogell and starred Farley Granger and Mona Freeman. Although the story of Men Against Speed is not similiar to that of The Racers, the Daily Variety review of the program noted that much of the racing footage for the television show was taken directly from the motion picture. The review also asserted that "these sequences alone totted up to most of the original picture's physical cost."
Released in United States 1955
Released in United States 1955