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Trivia / The Great Race

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  • Actor Allusion: Maggie DuBois says she can speak French, Russian and Arabic. Natalie Wood was of Russian descent (her real name is Natasha Gurdin) and spoke fluent Russian.
  • The Cast Showoff: The film has an example that is perhaps too brief as we only hear the character of Maggie - who is established as being fluent in Russian as Natalie Wood was in real life - speaking one mere sentence in Russian while addressing and winning over the sinister Russian villagers.
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  • Contractual Obligation Project: Natalie Wood didn't want to be in the film, but Warner talked her into it. Wood was unhappy with her career and her personal life, having recently divorced from Robert Wagner in April 1962. Warner asked Tony Curtis if he would give a percentage of his film royalties to Wood, as an enticement, but Curtis refused. He said, "I couldn't give her anything to make her want to do the movie." Instead of more money, Warner promised Wood that if she completed The Great Race, she could star in Inside Daisy Clover, a role she greatly wished to have. Wood agreed, thinking that filming would be brief on Edwards' movie.
  • Dueling Works: The far more commercially and critically successful Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines had been released not a month prior by Fox, which hurt the film in both departments (though it still made over double its budget at the box office).
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  • Enforced Method Acting: When Professor Fate uses the railroad rocket-car for his second stunt, depending on who you ask either Blake Edwards decided not to tell the extras just how large of a pyrotechnic load was packed in the engine, or he didn't realize it himself. When the crowd scatters, what you see is genuine shock and terror on the faces of the extras.
  • Hostility on the Set: Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood had previously costarred on twice ('King's Go Forth and Sex and the Single Girl) and had a very acrimonious relationship. Part of the reason that Wood was unhappy on the film was that she felt she was being sexually harassed by both Curtis and Jack Lemmon.
  • Non-Singing Voice: Robin Ward sang "The Sweetheart Tree" instead of Natalie Wood. Wood sang "My Country 'tis of Thee" herself earlier can tell because she sounds off-key.
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  • Production Posse: Blake Edwards, director and co-writer, apparently brought along a good number of the personnel he'd previously worked with on his television shows, most prominently Henry Mancini and Ross Martin.
  • Those Two Actors: Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood in their third (and final) film together, and Curtis and Jack Lemmon in their second of two. Although, ask anyone to name a Tony Curtis/Jack Lemmon film, they'll probably think of the other one.
  • What Could Have Been: Charlton Heston was originally offered the role of The Great Leslie. He considered it a "funny script" but had to turn the part down when the production schedule for The Agony and the Ecstasy was delayed. Burt Lancaster was announced at one stage.


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