Another Tony Curtis moment

Blake Edwards’ 1965 “The Great Race” is an childhood favorite of mine —  I remember being about six the first time I saw it. I think I liked the cars, the broad slapstick, and the cartoony iconography. I watched it again a couple of years back for the first time in its entirety in probably more than 20 years and found it held up a lot better than I had expected, not least because of a really fine comic performance by Tony Curtis as the absurdly heroic and properly chauvinistic the Great Leslie.

In this scene — briefly interrupted by some very nice Laurel & Hardy-slapstick from villains Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk — good guy Curtis puts various gentlemanly moves on early feminist Natalie Wood, who he had also romanced the prior year in “Sex and the Single Girl.” It’s a very funny send-up of supremely confident romantic movie heroes of old and of Curtis’s own ultra-suave persona. It also features some very nice sword play by Curtis, who was actually knew how to handle a saber.

“The Great Race” airs Sunday night/Monday morning as part of TCM’s 24-hour Tony Curtis marathon tomorrow night at 1:30 a.m. Eastern/10:30 Pacific for you night-owls and DVR owners.

  

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A Soupy Sales memorial movie moment

The late Soupy Sales was a great comic who achieved his great fame through television but never had much of a film career. His one starring role, 1966’s “Birds Do It,” is essentially impossible to see. Given two of the comments currently on IMDb, perhaps for a reason.

Nevertheless, his pie throwing and receiving savvy tickled the funny bone of a couple of generations and certainly influenced the slapstick comedy of his era quite a bit. So, in honor of the late Mr. Sales, the most famed pie fight of the 1960s.

Considering that this scene from Blake Edwards’ 1965’s “The Great Race” features several of the biggest stars of its day including Natalie Wood, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon (as two separate characters — the villainous Prof. Fate and the aimably drunken Crown Prince Hapnik), a pre-“Columbo” Peter Falk and character acting great Keenan Wynn (aka Col. Bat Guano of “Dr. Strangelove“), it’s also easily the most star-studded creamy pastry battle yet filmed.

And, remember the wise words of Mr. Sales and brush after every pie fight: “Be true to your teeth, and they’ll never be false to you.”

  

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