|Kirk Douglas||....||Gino Borgesa|
|Cesar Romero||....||Carlos Chavez|
|Lee J. Cobb||....||Maglio|
|Katy Jurado||....||Maria Chavez|
|Charles Goldner||....||Piero, Mechanic|
|John Hudson (I)||....||Michel Caron|
|George Dolenz||....||Count Salem|
|John Wengraf||....||Dr. Tabor|
|Norbert Schiller||....||Dehlgreen, the Photographer|
Henry Hathaway's "The Racers" bears a certain comparison with Mark Robson's
"The Champion" (1949) as both films deal with a man determined to raise himself
from the lower level of society (no matter the cost) to win an ambitious position of
wealth & respect with being a sport celebrity..
Kirk Douglas is an Italian bus driver obsessed with the desire to win the Grand Prix de Napoli with his home-built car, competing against some of the best drivers, best engines & best engineers..
It is a race of genius over machinery..Douglas has thought out each turn of the wheel, each acceleration of the pedal, each pass to perfection..From there his ambition takes no limit & his perseverance to win by ways of antagonism from fellow drivers & estrangement from the woman who loves him..
Lively directed by Hathaway & beautifully photographed in Technicolor by Joe MacDonald, "The Racers" is a revival of all five senses..The atmosphere of the circuits is electric..The energy & sheer excitement from the roar of the engines & the screams of the crowds are feelings that only the CinemaScope can produce..Whether or not your favorite hero takes the checkered flag, you stand up & cheer the winner across the finish line..
But like many another films dealing with sport, "The Racers" suffers from a banal story & questionable characterizations. It tries to increase its appeal to women audience by having its attractive heroine, a ballet dancer (Bella Darvi, 1928-71) one interested in high fashion..In this way female viewers glimpse the flashes of color of fashion salons (such decorative touches are plentiful & outrageous) in addition to scenic shots of the French Riviera, Paris, Rome, and the authentic locations of the acclaimed auto racing sites (not only do you get the insight of a lifetime of champions - two of whom are played by Gilbert Roland & Cesar Romero - but you share many racing experiences with Lee J. Cobb who shows great aptitude as the racing manager) But again, it is the story - a routine melodrama totally unmemorable but impersonally efficient - that hangs heavy..
For those interested in sports car..speedways' drivers..& the celebrated runways of Europe, "The Racers" is a film worth watching..