GRAND PRIX - HOMAGE
It was early 1967 and for some weeks our neighbor's son had been talking excitedly about a new film, called "Grand Prix". I was beginning to marvel at his regular communiques as to when the screening would take place. Finally - he told me that it would be in Rotterdam's Cinerama theater in which the 70mm panoramic viewing would offer its viewers a near-orgasmic experience in cacophonies of sound and vision.
This theater management was known to have very sound publicity ideas. For the 1965 epic, "Battle Of The Bulge", they had secured a Sherman tank to stand outside as a sentinel for several weeks - a surefire indicator that they took the showing of its main features extremely serious.
They would do the same for "Grand Prix" but in the absence of a suitable Formula-1 racer, they had received generous cooperation from Holland's motor racing community in the form of a bright orange colored DAF Formula-3 car in the foyer, powerfully displayed on the mock-up of a steeply-angled banking.
The actors get their hands dirty.
The 1966 Formula-1 racing season rules allowed for a ragbag of machinery. This bode well for director, John Frankenheimer, who chose the much cheaper Formula-2 cars, dressed up as their more glamorous brethren, but driven by the real F1 drivers. The four driving actors all sported similar helmets as worn by real drivers. Brian Bedford (Jackie Stewart), James Garner (Chris Amon), Yves Montand (John Surtees and Mike Parkes), Anthony Sabato (Unknown). Three of those actors could barely drive a car - let alone a racer, and were placed in towed dummy cars when closeups were necessary. The only actor who was exceptionally gifted was leading man James Garner. Assisted by professional tuition from Bob Bondurant, Garner became more than capable in doing some real high speed stuff.
A plethora of Grand Prix drivers all contributed to the film in either cameo appearances or with real life racing footage.
And so came the time that my friend and I eagerly shuffled towards our seats in the packed out cinema. For the next 3 hours, John Frankenheimer bought Hollywood technique and skills to the art of filming racing cars in action and no one failed to be impressed beyond words. No one choked on the thin story line or the one-dimensional characters and I would be hard pressed to imagine anything different in today's, near-clinical world of top level motor racing and equally bland characters.
"Grand Prix" remains THE motor racing film against which all other standards are measured. None have ever come near. John Frankenheimer's and Saul Bass's cinematography remains unsurpassed for over half a century. It has never appeared on freebie media as so many movies eventually do. In short, it remains #1.
Famous race track
I chose one of the film's most iconic racing scenes set one one of the few iconic racing circuits left in the world - Monza circuit in Italy - built in 1922 and which has been host to countless races since. Making this image additionally memorable is that it is set on the now defunct high-speed banking. In those pre-CGI days, much footage was taken from heavily modified racing cars onto which hapless cameramen were strapped desperately trying to achieve the best results - as well as traveling backwards at speeds well over 150 mph! For other shots, the relatively huge cameras were mounted directly onto the cars. Some, radio operated, could swivel as required.
I choose my scene and add more.
This famous publicity shot is the one on which I based my painting - it was impossible for the narrow camera angle on the car to get a certain depth of vision. In order to really maximize the brute impact of my image, I spent weeks searching for reference material from literally half a century ago. Poring over a myriad of seemingly innocuous photographs, they would finally yield their wealth of information and I added in excess of 75% to this image in technical and background details.
As ultimate compliments, a young viewer recently refused to believe that my text was not done by computer, and a retired signwriter said he would have employed me in a heartbeat.
Size: 48" x 70" x 3"
Medium: Acrylic paint on cradled wood panel
Price of original: $24,950
Giclee - Full size on canvas: $3,750
Print - 24" x 35": $155. - (1/4 size of original)
November 22, 2021
nice clean "lift" of the original art.
- Design, Film
- Painting - Unframed
- Acrylic, Canvas
70.00 inches wide
48.00 inches tall
3.00 inches deep
- 20.00 lbs
- Peoria, AZ, US