Two movies with similar plots are produced nearly 50 years apart. The first, Grand Prix in 1966, directed by John Frankenheimer. The second, Rush in 2013, directed by Ron Howard.
When you watch these two films, if you were somehow unaware of their chronological order, you would think, Grand Prix is a movie patterned after real people and events, of course with artistic license. In reality, Grand Prix is filmed a decade earlier than the events and people portrayed in Rush.
Why the comparison? Here’s a quote in Rotten Tomatoes about the plot of Grand Prix; “There’s a few million dollars’ worth of star power and a nickel’s worth of plot in the lavish race-car melodrama Grand Prix.” Grand Prix was intended to be as true to motor-sports as possible, which it was recognized for at that time. It was prescient as well, when compared to the real life rivals, Niki Lauda & James Hunt.
Each movie tells a story in its own terms. The earlier movie, was as much a human story played by some of the best actors of the era, as well as unequalled cinematography. The theme music, although beautiful in its own right, was altered and used repeatedly, and after a while wore a hole in the story fabric.
Grand Prix was a movie that by today’s standards dragged, punctuated by on track racing with visuals so gorgeous, you could hug the techs & cinematographers. It’s 3 hour run time included an intermission. There’s no way contemporary movie-goers would sit still for that long. Ron Howard is a director at home with making biographies compelling. Think – Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man. Rush is more mainstream Howard. You could almost visualize him doing a version of this without the authenticity of these two race drivers. My only criticism is he often gets lost in telling this 1976 race season without any of the cine artistry that Frankheimer applied almost 50 years before.
It’s worth seeing both of these movies. I would recommend viewing Grand Prix first, and within a reasonable time frame of each other, so you can compare.