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Visit biografmuseet.dk about Danish cinemas


La-La Land Records have released Henry Mancini's complete score of "The Great Race" in splendid Stereophonic Sound
An epic-length score of almost two hours in a limited (2500 units) edition

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by:  Gerhard Witte, Berlin Date: 14.08.2017
The 3-cd box set with an epic art design by Jim Titus. The included booklet (24 pages) gives detailed information about Mancini's score and the movie. The original film score is on CD1 (52:27) and CD2 (62.10), and on CD3 (27:38) is represented the LP-version released in 1965 – here Mancini's album arrangements use a smaller group of players than the original film score. (Picture taken by the author)


Blake Edwards' "The Great Race" (USA, 1965) is a parody of silent film (e.g.: the pretty opening credits mimic lantern slides from the silent era), and is dedicated to Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

At the time, it was the most expensive comedy ever made (IMDb: estimated budget $12.000.000), beating out prior comedy epics as "Around the World in 80 Days" (USA, 1956 – estimated budget $6.000.000), "It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World" (USA, 1963 – estimated budget $ 9.400.000), and "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes)" (UK, 1965 – estimated budget $5.600.000).

It won an Oscar for Treg Brown's Sound Effects. It received nominations for Best Cinematography (Russell Harlan), Best Editing (Ralph E. Winters), Best Sound (George Groves), and Best Original Song for Henry Mancini's (music) and Johnny Mercer's (lyrics) song "The Sweetheart Tree".

It is the movie's lovely love song: "They say there's a tree in the forest – a tree that will give you a sign – come along with me to the sweetheart tree – come and carve your name next to mine …"

The world premiere of
“The Great Race” took place on Thursday, 1 July 1965 at "Pantages Theatre" in Los Angeles. Previously, the movie had already received big press coverage via Warner Bros. bringing 150 newspapermen from all over the country to Hollywood on a two-day junket. (Author's note: most likely in a tent – watch the interesting premiere interviews from the Oklahoma Historical Society on YouTube in the link list. Additional information taken from "New York VARIETY" dated Wednesday, 30 June 1965)
More in 70mm reading:

Gerhard Witte's in70mm.com Library

Hannibal 8 Special For Sale

"The Wonderful World of Brothers Grimm" soundtrack released by Film Score Monthly

"2001:A Space Odyssey" Yet another soundtrack

Ben-Hur: The Complete Soundtrack Collection

The Third Man records' Release of "The Hateful Eight" on 2-LP 180 gram Vinyl

Alex North's "Cheyenne Autumn" score released on 2CD from Entrada

Todd-AO "Mag Men" 2CD Released

Internet link:

La-La Land records

"Pantages Theatre" in Los Angeles

"The Great Race" movie premiere interviews on YouTube. Part 1 + Part 2

A wonderful tribute to "The Great Race" on YouTube with Henry Mancini's nice musical score

The movie's RCA LSP 3402 Stereo record from 1965 featuring Mancini's musical themes partly in more popular (easy-listening) versions. Image right: director Blake Edwards (26.07.1922 – 15.12.2010) with composer Henry Mancini (16.04.1924 – 14.06.1994). (Image taken from the LP cover (reverse side) – from the author's collection)

Blake Edwards was a famous American film director, screenwriter, and producer. In 2004, he received an Honorary Academy Award in recognition of his writing, directing, and producing an extraordinary body of work for the screen.
The well-known American composer, conductor and arranger Henry Mancini has been awarded 4 Oscars. In 1962, he got two Academy Awards. One for Best Original Song titled "Moon River" (in collaboration with Johnny Mercer), and one for Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture – both for the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (USA, 1961).
In 1963, he was awarded in the category Best Original Song for "Days of Wine and Roses" (USA, 1962) – again with Jonny Mercer together.

In 1983, he got his fourth Oscar (this time together with Leslie Bricusse) for Music (Original Song Score and its Adaptation -or- Adaptation Score) for the movie "Victor/Victoria" (UK/USA, 1982).

At the time, the front pages of two trade magazines announced the big and expensive comedy extravaganza.

The French "La Cinématographie Française" dated 08.01.1966, "Warner Bros. with best wishes for 1966", and the German "Film-Echo/Filmwoche" dated 10.12.1965 with following text: "The new 70mm attraction by Warner Brothers will open in Germany in December in Berlin, Hamburg and Düsseldorf. Get more information about this movie – watch the programme "Neues aus der Welt des Films" (news from the world of film) on the second German TV on Saturday, 11th December at 6:55 pm!"

Premiere in Germany: "Das große Rennen (rund um die Welt)"

A German advert at the time of the movie's release, and right: the movie's German souvenir programme (16 pages – from the author's collection).

In the advert is written following: "The Super Attraction in 70mm by Warner Bros. (author's note: the movie was shot on 35mm in glorious Panavision, and was blown up to 70mm for special premiere venues) / Start in Germany: Christmas 1965 / Robert Stein, one of the most important US-theater owners was thrilled. He saw the film at a so-called "sneak preview" (test screening) in San Diego – what is "My Fair Lady" for the musical that is "The Great Race" for the comedy. Warner Bros. pretty big in upswing."

The epic, hilarious slapstick comedy premiered at Hamburg's "Savoy Filmtheater" in 70mm, and with 6-channel magnetic sound on Thursday, 16 December 1965. Previously, George Cukor’s film "My Fair Lady" (USA, 1964) had been very successfully shown there for 11 months and 3 weeks. "The Great Race" (running time about 160 min – the roadshow version has an Overture, an Entr'acte, and an Exit Music) was shown there for 10 weeks – until Thursday, 24 February 1966.
Premiere at Hamburg's "Savoy Filmtheater", Europe's first purpose-built Todd-AO venue. The theatre opened in March 1957.

Click to see enlargement

Left side: an announcement advert dated 09.12.1965 with following text: "The hitherto biggest car race in Hamburg – the great laughter around the world – opening on 16 December at "Savoy Filmtheater on Steindamm", and right: the premiere advert.

In the newspaper "Hamburger Morgenpost" was written at the time: "Great fun at Savoy. This car race from New York via the North Pole to Paris is full of originality and has numberless gags. With a brawl in a saloon, and a colossal pie fight it offers 100% cinema viewing pleasure." (Author's note: in the souvenir programme is written that they had "destroyed" 2,357 real pies – i would have loved being involved in that scene)

From "Hamburger Abendecho": "This is a great, funny and colorful journey that the Americans have produced with great effort, wit, and an all-star cast for the big screen."

Premiere in France: "La Grande Course Autour du Monde"

An exceptionally unusual vehicle attracts great attention. (Image taken from "Le Film Français" dated 25.02.1966)

"The Great Race"
premiered at the "Empire (Abel Gance) Cinérama Théâtre" on Friday, 17 February 1966. It ran there for 10 weeks and 5 days with success – until Tuesday, 3 May 1966.

Prof. Fate's (played by Jack Lemmon) "Hannibal 8 Special" vehicle on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. It was a good advertising for the film. The car is a masterpiece of mechanical and artistic design. An uncanny black monster, which can be hoisted eight feet into the air from its six-wheel base. It is equipped with a cannon and all kinds of gadgets – a little bit like the cars in James Bond movies.

From IMDb: The "Hannibal 8" was powered by a Corvair six-cylinder engine and three-speed transmission. Six (author's note: other sources give 4 or 5) "Hannibal 8" cars were built for the movie at a reported cost of $150,000 each. Three of which used the lazy tongs lifting mechanism, so fragile that it broke constantly.

Here additional information about this unusual vehicle on YouTube.

According to two statistics written in "La Cinématographie Française" dated 11.03.1966 and 29.04.1966 (see in the image), 9.073 people saw the movie in the second week. So, 19.615 – 9.073 = 10.542 people were in the Empire cinema in the first week.

5.171 cinemagoers enjoyed the movie in the 9th week with a total of 60.094 in 9 weeks since the movie's premiere. The theater was equipped with 1032 places.

"The Great Race" premiered in England at "Coliseum" in London on Thursday, 14 October 1965 and ran there until Saturday, 26 February 1966 (4 months and 11 days).

It premiered in Austria at "Gartenbau-Kino" in Vienna on Friday, 25 March 1966. Watch on YouTube the enchanting Natalie Wood arriving in Vienna for shooting in 1965
14 Aug 2017
Von: François CARRIN
An: Gerhard WITTE

Hello Gerhard,

Congratulations for your report about The Great Race in 70mm.com. I remember it very well! In France it was the Winter holidays week and I was in Paris on Saturday & Sunday 18-19/02/1966.

I have seen the film at EMPIRE CINERAMA on Saturday night. Successfully I was seated in the 1st row! In fact too near from the screen. The film was screened with SHELLARAMA.

The next day morning I was walking along Les Champs-Elysées and I have seen the Hannibal 8 car exhibited in the RENAULT showroom.

It’s a great souvenir !!!

François CARRIN
aka Mister CINERAMA France

Some Thoughts about the 3-CD Set and its Music

Advertising from that time: some of the Gems in "The Greatest Comedy of all Time!": The Great Pie Fight / The Mad Automobile Race / The Western Saloon Brawl / The Sheik's Tent / The Devilish Dirigicycle / The Fiend's Dungeon / The Sinking Iceberg.

First of all I would like to mention that this comedy score has an excellent sound quality - it has been very well restored. The 3 CDs are housed in a Multipack Jewel Case. The included booklet, written by Jeff Bond, is very informative. This is the world premiere of Mancini's original musical score of "The Great Race" and it is, I think so, a must for Mancini enthusiasts.

At the time of the movie's release, film musical scores were often re-recorded and re-arranged for their LP-presentations, and were, of course, much shorter. I am collecting soundtracks since about my 12th birthday, and I am always amazed that today numerous original scores are available in their full length on the CD-market. So, I can say that a lot of wishes/dreams have come true.

The musical score to "The Great Race" is in my mind's eye no symphonic music and, in some passages, it reminds me of circus music. My absolute highlight is, of course, the Oscar nominated song "The Sweetheart Tree" that gives the movie a very pleasant flair – I like it more than Mancini's Oscar winning song for the movie "Days of Wine and Roses" (USA, 1962). But there are some more beautiful melodies in the movie, and also partly zany passages, which are perfectly fitting with the film's humour.

While I was listening to the music I noticed that the Stereo-Sound-Channels were widely separated from another at the time – I like this very much. On CD1 (Track No.11) you can also enjoy the classic title song from Sigmund Romberg's (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II) operetta "The Desert Song" (1926). It is played in the movie when the Great Leslie (Tony Curtis) romances Maggie DuBois (Natalie Wood) inside a tent. By the way, Natalie Wood also sings the song "The Sweetheart Tree" in the second part of the film (on CD2 track No.19, an alternate version is on track No.28), but she had been dubbed by singer Jackie Ward at the time. Watch on YouTube, and take note of the funny animated "follow the bouncing ball" lyrics on the screen.

Natalie wasn't a perfect singer – already in "West Side Story" (USA, 1961) she had been dubbed by Marni Nixon. At the very end of CD2, if you are waiting for a while (after the last title No. 28) you can hear screaming, laughing and clapping people. This can also be heard at the movie's beginning during the opening credits.

Is the purchase of the CD-Box worthwhile? This is certainly no question for the real film music freak like me. There are some repetitions of melodies/tunes on the first two CDs, and some of the tracks are not very long. But there is, of course, a lot of new, hitherto unreleased music available now (all described in detail in the CD's booklet), which you can't find in the music's LP version. Here are featured Mancini's musical themes partly in a more popular (easy-listening) version, which I also like.

I had watched "The Great Race" as a boy at Hamburg's "Savoy Filmtheater" – of course in amazing 70mm. Some scenes amused me very much, and I laughed a lot. Today I can laugh less about it. Times and tastes are changing, and that is, of course, also a question of age. By the way, the German DVD edition of the movie has an Overture, an Intermission Title Card (no Entr'acte), and an Exit Music.

Track Listing


1 Overture 3:49
2 Main Title (The Sweetheart Tree) 2:56
3 Fanfare No. I / The Great Race March 1:18
4 Enter Leslie 1:30
5 Enter Professor Fate 2:23
6 Up Your Exhaust Pipe 2:23
7 Fate Again 2:03
8 Exposed! / Holy Cow 3:17
9 Fate Is a Fink 2:19
10 Enter Maggie / Fickle Fate 2:02
11 The Desert Song 3:31
12 New York to Paris (The Great Race March) 2:39
13 Fanfare (Times Square) / They’re Off 2:40
14 Pigeon / Stranded 1:45
15 Smoke Screen 2:07
16 It Looks Like a Big Night Tonight 1:52
17 He Shouldn’t-A, Hadn’t-A, Oughtn’t-A Swang On Me 4:41
18 He Shouldn’t-A, Hadn’t-A, Oughtn’t-A Swang On Me (band) 1:16
19 Texas Jack 1:08
20 It Looks Like a Big Night Tonight (reprise) 1:48
21 It Looks Like a Big Night Tonight (piano) 1:13
22 That Finishes Them! / Off to Grommet 1:42
23 Rise and Shine 2:03

Disc 1: Total Time: 52:27


1 Entr’Acte (The Sweetheart Tree) / Red Sky 3:56
2 Another Foot 2:19
3 Saved! 1:13
4 Captured! / Under Arrest 2:00
5 Princely Fanfare / His Royal Highness :47
6 Dance Medley 5:07
7 Whispering / Good Night, Sweet Prince 1:45
8 It’s a Secret 2:31
9 Heir to the Throne :53
10 Dirty Little Rat 2:30
11 Strict Orders 1:51
12 Dey Dere 2:50
13 Leslie Leaps In 2:57
14 En Garde 1:20
15 En Garde Again 2:08
16 Coronation 1:04
17 Faster! / Faster Still! / Escape! :54
18 Pie-in-the-Face Polka 3:51
19 The Sweetheart Tree (vocal) 2:40
20 Paris 2:21
21 Finish Line 1:14
22 Paris to New York - End Title 1:35
23 End Cast :35
24 Exit Music 1:53
25 It Looks Like a Big Night Tonight (full lyrics) 1:59
26 Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (excerpts) 6:17
27 Princely Organ Music :48
28 Guitar Strums / The Sweetheart Tree (alt vocal) 2:50

Disc 2: Total Time: 62:10


1 Overture 3:42
2 Push the Button, Max! 2:57
3 The Royal Waltz 1:43
4 Night, Night Sweet Prince 3:04
5 They’re Off! 1:32
6 The Sweetheart Tree (Choral) 1:59
7 The Great Race March (A Patriotic Medley) 1:54
8 He Shouldn’t-A, Hadn’t-A, Oughtn’t-A Swang on Me! 3:12
9 Music to Become King By 2:39
10 Cold Finger 2:28
11 Pie-in-the-Face Polka 2:28

Disc 3: Total Time: 27:38

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Updated 04-05-22