Saturday, November 1, 2014

Saturday Night at the Movies

Rush - 2013. A high fidelity portrait of the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda as they battle to become Formula 1 World Champion back in 1976.

[Please read below...]

Obviously it helps to have an interest in auto racing to watch this - I followed the sport as best I could in that era as a pimply, car obsessed 13 year old American kid. In those days there was only the occasional segment on Wide World of Sports, and some great journalism in Road & Track. So I'm amazingly grateful that Ron Howard made this movie and reconnected me with a personal hero of my adolescence*.

But why might the rest of you want to watch?

It's not about the cars, or the drivers per se, it's about the men as men. A demonstration, taken from the pages of sports history, that for men of substance, profound flaws are no barrier to profound character, that implacable philosophical differences are no barrier to sincere respect, and that fierce rivalry is no barrier to fast friendship. Lessons appropriate for any age.

*oh, and who was my hero - Hunt or Lauda? Y'all can guess...

[Available on DVD from Netflix, downloadable from Amazon, currently on Comcast Xfinity On Demand. More trailers and many interesting clips/interviews/historical segments on YouTube.]


  1. My guess is Hunt.

    We watched this last year and it didn't disappoint. I don't think there is a Ron Howard movie that I haven't enjoyed.

    1. It looks really good! I love Ron Howard flicks too florrie.

      Thanks for the recommendation lewy.

    2. flo - it was actually Lauda who was my hero. He drove a Ferrari; Hunt was just a playboy. Ferraris were still just a bit more vivid in my imagination then. Late bloomer, I guess.

      When Lauda crashed I was kinda freaked out. He came back so quickly that I never really understood how serious the crash was. I'd never seen footage of it 'till I saw the movie, and then watched the actual crash on youtube. So many sad crashes on youtube....

    3. Yeah, I can't watch devastating videos anymore. They take their toll, don't they?

      I figured it was Landa, I was just teasing you. I didn't realize the movie was based on a true story until the end. I had never heard of either driver but thought it was an excellent film - as are most all of Opie's movies.

  2. OT
    lewy, 538 has us up over 70% for the first time - 71.6%.


  3. "... profound flaws are no barrier to profound character...."

    I like that line.

    1. Thanks Matt.

      Niki Lauda was one seriously arrogant bastard. He eventually acquired some measure of self-awareness.

  4. Ah yes, James Hunt. I remember him, or I should say I more rightly remember his wife Suzy. Who, as rumour has it, he "sold" to Richard Burton. Ah yes, I remember it well...

    1. Do tell! I'll make popcorn! :)

    2. Wales On Line reports:

      WELSH acting legend Richard Burton “bought” fashion model Suzy Hunt for a million dollars from her racing driver husband James, a new book claims.

      In Shunt, by Tom Rubython, about the life of the Formula 1 legend, the author claims Burton agreed to pay off the Hunts’ divorce settlement so he could be with her.

      At the end of December 1975, just 14 months into their marriage, Hunt and his wife Suzy went to Gstaad in Switzerland for Christmas with friends.

      Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, then the most famous actors in the world, were also staying there, at a villa called Chalet Arial. Burton and Taylor had married in 1964 but after a tempestuous decade together they divorced in 1974, only to remarry in October 1975. But it was not to last long.

      In the Swiss resort Burton first bumped into willowy fashion model Suzy Hunt as they were travelling in opposite directions on a ski lift. The Port Talbot-born star was 50 and she was 26.

      The actor turned to his assistant, Brook Williams and asked if he knew the “vision that had just passed by”.

      Williams set about trying to find out more about Suzy Hunt, realising Burton was besotted with her. Burton would later say of their first encounter: “I turned round and there was this gorgeous creature, about nine feet tall. She could stop a stampede.”

      By this time, James Hunt, a voracious womaniser, had left Gstaad to compete in the Brazilian Grand Prix in the opening race of the 1976 season.

      A few days later Burton and Suzy Hunt met in a party and struck up a friendship that would lead to marriage even though both were married to other people. At the end of January 1976, Burton told Elizabeth Taylor that their second marriage was over.

      Author Rubython says Suzy Hunt and her husband, whose short-lived marriage had been rocky, talked openly over the phone about her growing friendship with the Welsh actor.

      She soon asked for a divorce. He said Hunt and Burton then talked over the situation.

      Rubython said: “The two men immediately spoke to arrange what they called the ‘transfer’ of Suzy. Burton offered to pay Hunt’s divorce settlement to Suzy: $1m (£627,000). Burton couldn’t believe that Hunt was so casual about letting go of his beautiful wife.

      “Hunt simply said: ‘Relax, Richard. You’ve done me a wonderful turn by taking on the most alarming expense account in the country.’ Suzy, effectively, had been sold to Burton by Hunt for $1m and both were satisfied with the transaction.”

      The author added: “For James Hunt, it couldn’t have worked out better; he had got rid of the wife he never wanted and saved himself the divorce costs.”

      Talking about the split at the time, Hunt’s mother, Sue, told reporters: “I’m quite convinced that whoever my son had married, the same situation would have arisen. Suzy was a delight, but James is just not the marrying kind.”

      In June 1976, the divorces of Taylor and Burton and James and Suzy Hunt were formalised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

      On August 21 of the same year Hunt and Burton were married in Virginia, USA. The marriage lasted six years but throughout star-crossed lovers Burton and Taylor still wrote to each other and spoke over the phone. Hunt later married millionaire Jack Cawood and settled in the US.

      In 1983 Burton married fifth wife Sally Hay, a make-up artist and he died in 1984 aged 58 from a brain haemorrhage in Switzerland where he had a home in Celigny.

      James Hunt, the 1976 Formula One championship winner, went on to remarry and have two children. He died of a heart attack in 1993 aged 45.

    3. Wow, steamy! Great recollection, Fay. I didn't realize Richard was married to her, I just remember his first, the 2 to Elizabeth and his last wife.

      I think Richard and Elizabeth were star-crossed lovers, meant to be together and that their passion for each other never died. But I also think that together they were very much like the couple they played in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf". Or perhaps "Taming of the Shrew" is more germane ;-)

    4. Yeah they had real chemistry in "Wolf".

      And by chemistry I mean Hamas workplace-accident chemistry.

    5. LOL lewy, great analogy!

    6. Wow Fay, that's quite a steamy tale! Thanks for bringing me up to speed. I'd never heard that story before.

  5. It was BIG news in the UK where James Hunt and Richard Burton were both mega stars. That's probably why I knew about it.