(director/writer: Howard Hawks; screenwriters: George Kirgo/story by Howard Hawks; cinematographer: Milton Krasner; editors: Bill Brame/Stuart Gilmore; music: Nelson Riddle; cast: James Caan (Mike Marsh), Laura Devon (Julie Kazarian), Gail Hire (Holly MacGregor), Charlene Holt (Lindy Bonaparte), John Robert Crawford (Ned Arp), Marianna Hill (Gabrielle Queneau), Norman Alden (Pat Kazarian), George Takei (Kato), Anthony Rogers (Jim Loomis), James Ward (Dan McCall); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Howard Hawks; Paramount; 1965)

“It juggles race track thrills with those in the boudoir, and comes up short in the romance department.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

One of Howard Hawks’s (“Rio Lobo”/”The Big Sleep”/”Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”) later films is a daredevil auto racing melodrama and one of his few bombs. It juggles race track thrills with those in the boudoir, and comes up short in the romance department. It was filmed on location at the racetrack in Daytona Beach, Florida (and several other racing spots that include Riverside, California; Charlotte, North Carolina; Darlington, Texas), giving it an authentic feel. It’s taken from a Hawks story, that never passes muster for freshness or passing the giggle test over the woes of falling in love, though it covers with aplomb Hawks’ usual macho themes. Of the cast of unknowns, only James Caan was to go on to become a star.

It begins as race car driver Jim Loomis chats with racing team-mate Mike Marsh (James Caan), both part of the team run by engineer Pat Kazarian (Norman Alden), before the race in Daytona after just returning from California and mysteriously mentions he met the girl he will marry and she will be here tomorrow. During the race Jim foolishly drives too fast and crashes and dies. His girlfriend Holly MacGregor (Gail Hire) shows up the next day and is distraught at the news, telling Mike she’s bad luck–that two other men she was engaged to also died. Holly has a quick recovery when she takes the $10,000 insurance money Jim left her and goes partners in the restaurant business with Lindy Bonaparte (Charlene Holt). The two have something in common, as Lindy also lost a loved one in a race track crash. In the meantime the hot-tempered Ned Arp (John Robert Crawford), an unknown in the racing circuit, takes Jim’s place when he catches Pat’s sister Julie’s (Laura Devon) eye and performs well in a try-out run around the track for her brother. After winning his first race, Ned is pissed at team leader Pat for giving Mike all the breaks and decides to go out on his own. He is replaced by hotshot star driver Dan McCall (James Ward), who just returned after winning the prestigious LeMans in France and comes with a French girlfriend named Gabrielle (Marianna Hill). When Dan meets Holly, he soon dumps Gaby. Mike is interested in Gaby, but is unsure of himself. In a jealous rage, he tries to kill Dan during a race by causing him to crash into the wall. The two patch things up when Mike fesses up to his bad deed and allows Dan to punch him in the jaw (that should straighten things out!). Holly and Dan are now set to marry, and Mike and Gaby begin a romance. Julie’s romance begins anew with Ned when he crashes and loses an arm, and she visits him in the hospital and offers him tough love and support that he can race again with an artificial limb. Now all’s well in Daytona, as the couples supposedly who should be together are together. Why they should be together is a different question, as none of them seemed to have any chemistry together.

This passe sudser was so out of whack it’s in dire need to make a pit stop and get an entire Formula One overhaul.

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