This thread will cover all movies except recent films which are covered in the recent film thread.
In the past 2 weeks I watched 4 classics, 2 of which I was watching for the 1st time, Grand Prix (1966) and On The Waterfront (1954). I also saw Midnight Cowboy (1969) and The Graduate (1967) which I had seen multiple times previously.
I will start with the movie that surprised me the most, which was Grand Prix (1966), a look at a fictional F1 season that follows 4 different drivers competing for the F1 Championship- James Garner (American driver), Yves Montand (French driver), Brian Bedford (British driver) and Antonio Sabato (Italian driver). This movie was fascinating on many levels. I do not consider myself knowledgeable about F1 racing, but the way the movie is filmed, it puts you right in the driver's seat of an F1 car. You have a sense of exactly what the drivers are feeling and seeing. You get to see the Grand Prix racetracks and the dangers they pose up close. The movie gets into some of the technical difficulties of F1 racing including the difficulties of passing a non-cooperative leading vehicle, the numerous gear shifts that occur during a race, the difficulties of racing on banked tracks, etc.
But the movie does not focus on just the technical aspects of racing. It also looks at the personal lives of the drivers off the track: the pressures they face, their interactions with each other, and the corporate teams that sponsor them. The most fascinating character in the movie is the French driver Jean Paul Sartri, who is brilliantly played by Yves Montand. Sartri is a widely respected multiple world F1 champion coming to the end of his career, and he begins to question whether his career has been worthwhile. These feelings conflict with his competitive spirit and love of racing, but his questions about the worthwhileness of his endeavors intensify when he meets, falls madly in love with, and then starts an affair with an American journalist, well played by Eva Marie Saint. There is terrific chemistry between the Montand and Saint characters, and their scenes together are very well done.
The movie shows the drivers to be competitors but gentlemanly towards each other off the track, and they even attend parties and celebrate with each other after their races.
In the end, the movie is a fascinating study about the myriad dangers of F1 racing, how the drivers deal with the grind of racing, and what motivates the drivers to do what they do, and lastly the triumph and tragedy of the climactic final race, which determines which of the 4 drivers, who are neck to neck in points, will win the F1 championship. Made in 1966, when F1 racing was undoubtedly much more dangerous, Grand Prix relied on technical advice from Italian F1 driver Lorenzo Bandini, who recommended where on the Monaco track crash scenes should be filmed. Tragically, Bandini, who is seen starting a car as an extra at the very beginning of the film, was killed a year later in a horrific 1967 crash - in the very location of the Monaco Grand Prix course where he had recommended John Frankenheimer shoot the crash scenes shown at the beginning of the film.
The movie is excellent, and I highly recommend it even to very casual car racing fans.