It’s been a good weekend for automobile action on the teev. I was up late reading Frinite and starting to think about going to bed when I checked the EPG. ‘Fear Is The Key’, 1972. I’m a bit of a sucker for obscure movies from around that time, so I flicked over to it. Stars Barry Newman, that’s a good sign. Overall, pretty good, tho the plot seemed to go outside for a walk and get lost for a while in the middle. About 10 minutes in Barry grabs a girl, steals a red ’72 Torino and leads the cops on a merry chase for at least another 15 minutes. Great stunts, great driving and reasonably believable as these things go.


Yep, there’s a good dash of ‘Vanishing Point’ in this movie, the moodiness of John Talbot, (Barry’s character) and the motivations hinted at and the car chase looks similar, probably ‘cos the stunt co-ordinator was Cary Loftin, who had the same job in VP.


Being a nut for a good car chase, the rest of the movie didn’t hold my attention so much, I was still reading, too, by the gods, am I a multitasker or what?, but all in all, it was a special treat to find such an rare nugget on network teev.


Saturday, I watched a truly great football match (Sydney v Footscray, the ‘Scray won a close one) then glanced at the guide and, lo and behold, ‘Grand Prix’ is on!


This is probably the best motor-racing movie made, partly because it just is but also because it captures the last of an era. The filmmakers received an incredible amount of access to and co-operation from the drivers and teams and toured the GP circuit with them for several weeks in summer ’65. This was shortly before the GP circus was reorganised to maximise telecast revenue, leading to sponsorship decals being plastered all over the cars and a more intense level of competition and professionalism.


The on-track photography is unmatched, panavision cameras mounted on race cars at 130mph, in-race footage from helicopters. And the tracks! Spa, Brands Hatch, Monza, Monaco, shot in rich colour.


Later on, after another football match, we watched ‘Monty Python’s Holy Grail’, which we hadn’t seen for several years. By odd chance, another channel showed ‘Excalibur’ later that night, which was really much too silly by then.