The Racers (1955)

112 mins | Drama | February 1955

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Racer . As noted by studio publicity, author Hans Ruesch was a former European racing champion. In Mar 1953, DV 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 Aug 1954 HR news items, Robert Stack was originally cast as “Michel Caron,” but after being cast in another film, was replaced by John Hudson. An HR 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 19 Feb 1955 LAEx 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 ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Racer . As noted by studio publicity, author Hans Ruesch was a former European racing champion. In Mar 1953, DV 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 Aug 1954 HR news items, Robert Stack was originally cast as “Michel Caron,” but after being cast in another film, was replaced by John Hudson. An HR 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 19 Feb 1955 LAEx 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 Dec 1954 by mutual consent, according to a HR news item.
       In mid-Dec 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 DV 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.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 May 55
pp. 272-73, 299-300.
Box Office
5 Feb 1955.
---
Daily Variety
25 Mar 1953.
---
Daily Variety
2 Feb 55
p. 3.
Film Daily
2 Feb 55
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Feb 1953
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Oct 1953
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1954
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jul 1954
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jul 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 1954
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Aug 1954
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 1954
p. 3, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 1954
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Aug 1954
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Sep 1954
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Sep 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Sep 1954
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 1954
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Sep 1954
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Oct 1954
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 1954
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Feb 55
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 1955
p. 5.
Los Angeles Examiner
19 Feb 1955.
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Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
5 Feb 55
p. 313.
New York Times
23 Jan 1955.
---
New York Times
5 Feb 55
p. 13.
New Yorker
12 Feb 1955.
---
Time
7 Feb 1955.
---
Variety
2 Feb 55
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Asst cam
Loc cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hair styling
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Prod mgr
Scr supv
Head of mechanical eff
Chief elec
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Racer by Hans Ruesch (New York, 1953).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"I Belong to You," music and lyrics by Jack Brooks and Alex North, sung by Peggy Lee.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Racer
Release Date:
February 1955
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 4 February 1955
Production Date:
2 August--early October 1954
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
3 February 1955
Copyright Number:
LP4596
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Lenses/Prints
Bausch & Lomb
Duration(in mins):
112
Length(in feet):
8,250
Length(in reels):
13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17229
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

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 ... +


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. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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