Combustible Celluloid
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With: James Caan, Laura Devon, Gail Hire, Charlene Holt, John Robert Crawford, Marianna Hill, Skip Ward, Norman Alden, George Takei, Anthony Rogers
Written by: George Kirgo, based on a story by Howard Hawks
Directed by: Howard Hawks
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 110
Date: 11/09/1965

Red Line 7000 (1965)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Race for the Bottom

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I'm a huge fan of director Howard Hawks, and usually I would go to bat to defend one of his movies. And several people I respect and admire have gone to bat for Red Line 7000. But try as I may, I just can't get very excited about this terribly static race car movie. Resembling the great Only Angels Have Wings, it concerns a group of race car drivers and the women who love them; it's a tight-knit group and their positions are very much the definition of their worth. But unlike that earlier movie, the actors -- with the lone exception of the dynamic James Caan -- are flat and dull and the characters never spring to life. (Thankfully, after this, Hawks, Caan, and some of the others went on to make the much better El Dorado.) The racing sequences are all second-unit stuff, stolen from real races, and filled in with greenscreen closeups. And, rather than moving at that typical, snappy Hawksian pace, this one is slow and lumbering. Kino Lorber has released Red Line 7000 on Blu-ray, however, with a very helpful commentary track, by historians Nick Redman and Julie Kirgo, the latter being the daughter of screenwriter George. She has an amazing insight into this film, and while she acknowledges all its shortcomings, she also seems to like it for what it does well. The disc also includes trailers.

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