The Great Race

  • Review Date: May 11, 2003
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1965
  • Running Time: 160 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Perfect family movie is fun from beginning to end.
  • Review Date: May 11, 2003
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1965
  • Running Time: 160 minutes





What parents need to know

Violence & scariness

Slapstick punches and, of course, the pie fight.

Sexy stuff

Fate and Max speculate mildly about Leslie's relationship with DuBois.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The prince has a drinking problem; Leslie frequently has champagne as evidence of his sophistication and elegance.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has some slapstick violence, and one character drinks too much. The reporter played by Natalie Wood is something of a caricature of feminism, more committed to shocking people than to any thoughtful concept of equality. But she has an unquenchable spirit, and she's courageous and resilient.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Always dressed in impeccable white, the Great Leslie (Tony Curtis) is a good guy so good that his eyes and teeth literally twinkle. The bad guy is Professor Fate (Jack Lemmon). They both enter an automobile race from New York to Paris. So does beautiful reporter Maggie DuBois (Natalie Wood ), to prove she can get the story -- dressed in an endless series of exquisite ensembles. The race takes them across America, through the Wild West, to a rapidly melting ice floe in the Pacific, and into a European setting that is a cross between a Victor Herbert operetta and The Prisoner of Zenda, where a spoiled prince happens to look exactly like Professor Fate and it takes all of the stars to foil an evil baron who wants to use Fate to take over the throne.

Is it any good?


Dedicated to Laurel and Hardy, THE GREAT RACE is both a spoof and a loving tribute to the silent classics, with good guys, bad guys, romance, adventure, slapstick, music, wonderful antique cars, and the biggest pie fight in history. It's a perfect family movie, just plain fun from beginning to end. It may also provide an opportunity for a discussion of competition and sportsmanship.

At the end, Leslie deliberately loses as a gesture of devotion to Maggie. Professor Fate shows some sense of honor -- apparently it is all right for him to cheat to win, but not all right to win by having Leslie refuse to compete. "You cheated -- I refuse to accept!" Modern adults may wince a bit at Dubois' notion of how to attain equal opportunity -- she ultimately succeeds by showing her leg to the editor, who becomes too dazed to argue further. But like Mary Poppins, it provides a chance to remind children that at that time, women did not even have the right to vote.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether Leslie should have let Fate win. Why wasn't Fate happy when he beat Leslie? Why was Fate so jealous of Leslie? Why did DuBois want to be a reporter so badly?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 1, 1965
DVD release date:June 4, 2002
Cast:Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood, Tony Curtis
Director:Blake Edwards
Studio:Warner Bros.
Topics:Cars and trucks
Run time:160 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of The Great Race was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byDr3w November 9, 2011

Not As Clean As You Think

I liked this movie well enough. It reminded me faintly of Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (another race movie that came out the same year). The cast is excellent with Tony Curtis as the good guy who always wears white, Jack Lemmon as the bad guy who always wears black, and Natalie Wood as the romantic interest/sex appeal. Parts of this film are humorous. Some of the action scenes and stunts are fun to watch and the overall tone of the film is light-hearted and amusing. My problem with this film is that it simply contains too much questionable content for the 6+ rating that Common Sense Media has given it. Natalie Wood and other women frequently are clad in very little. In one scene, Natalie Wood emerges dripping wet from a lake dressed only in a corset which leaves very, very little to the imagination. Sexual comments are veiled, but occur fairly frequently. The violence is not so much of an issue as it is mostly comical with the exception of one slightly bloody sword-fight. All those scantily-clad females are my biggest problem with this film. I really don't want my male siblings exposed to women dressed that way. I can watch the film with them and skip some parts, but it's not a film I can just stick on for them and then leave the room. Also, I think I should mention that it can be a pretty tedious film at times with parts of it being quite repetitive and/or boring. SUMMARY: Poorly paced film has some amusing parts and some good stunts, but may be too racy for family viewing.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Kid, 10 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Really funny!

I thought this was a great movie because the bad guy was always trying to win the race but his tricks didn't help him. The bad guy cheated but the good guys did not. The funniest part was the big pie fight.
Adult Written byTripletMom April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


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