The off-track action is sub-soap-opera stuff: half psycho-babble musing about the need for speed, half “Goddammit man, she’s my wife!” emoting as Formula One drivers James Garner, Yves Montand, Brian Bedford and Antonio Sabato slam cars round the circuits of Europe, while Eva Marie Saint and Jessica Walter simper in the pits. Thankfully the on-track stuff, as you’d expect from John Frankenheimer, is petrolhead heaven.
It was shot before, after and, occasionally, right in the middle of the 1966 Grand Prix season, with the actors doing their own driving (Garner trained for two months before shooting). And the footage is astonishing, even 40 years later. Relish the half-dozen races, largely shown with no sound other than the roar of giant engines and the screech of brakes.