Ford v. Ferrari: A Final Look

Film Title

Ford v. Ferrari

Synopsis

Two Guys with some Hot Wheels

Director

James Mangold

Cast

Matt Damon
Christian Bale
Josh Lucas
Tracy Letts
Caitriona Balfe
Remo Girone
Jon Bernthal

The first thing you notice about Ford v Ferrari is the sound, even before the first frame of picture. The telltale sound of motor racing. Cars speeding by. The Doppler effect, changes of perspective, gears changing, the sound of breaks, wheels on the track. The crowds. Sounds there throughout the racing scenes. Sound that puts you there.

Supervising sound editor Don Sylvester told the Hollywood reporter how he and his crew got the sounds.

“We found a guy in Ohio who built a GT40 from original Ford parts and had it certified by Ford as a legitimate GT40. They gave it a serial number and it’s got all the GT40 elements we need – the original engine, the pipes,” Sylvester says.

“The team traveled to Ohio to record the GT40 for sound. “We had mics on the transmission housing and trans-axles that gave us whines and different interior sounds. It was finding the right sounds for the right places, but we had a lot to work from,” says sound designer David Giammarco, who also served as a rerecording mixer alongside Paul Massey.

“The team had found their Ford, but they still needed to locate a classic Ferrari. The “GT40 owner introduced them to a collector in Atlanta, who owned a 1959 Ferrari Testa Rossa with a V-12 engine that featured the same number of cylinders and pipes as the model in the film. They also recorded other classic cars and the sounds of a racetrack. “We had all of these original recordings as a base, and we augmented them,” Giammarco explains.”

Image result for 1959 Ferrari Testa Rossa with a V-12 engine

So, despite declarations of some uninformed naysayers, the sound effects are superb.

Ford v Ferrari is a buddy picture. Think Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Carrol Shelby is Butch (“You just keep thinkin’ there, Butch. That’s what your good at.”). Ken Miles is the Sundance Kid.

The suits from Ford are Joe LeFors and the Pinkerton detectives. They hired the best men to do a job and then told them how to do it.

There is no hint of Massachusetts in Matt Damon’s performance as the Texan, Carrol Shelby. His speech and attitude say Lone Star State. The Welsh born Englishman Christian Bale is, well, English, like Ken Miles.

On first view, I almost mistook Ray McKinnon (who plays automotive engineer, Phil Remington) for the late Timothy Scott (News Carver in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, to complete the comparison).

Image result for ray mckinnon ford vs ferrari

The story is simple enough. The quest by Shelby, Miles and Remington to create a car that can win the twenty-four hours race at LeMans, beat the Ferrari team, and rub Enzo Ferrari’s nose in it.

The Ford car salesmen provide the funding, and then, many a filmmaker understands this, then the money guys offer suggestions, (read orders) that are counterproductive to the desired outcome. In the case of Ford v Ferrari, is a car that can go the distance with the right driver at the wheel.

In the end, Ken Miles is cheated by the suits, but wins awarded something no Ford suit can deny him: A tip of the hat from Enzo Ferrari.

The music has a Texas sound, bringing to mind The Fabulous Thunderbird. It fits.

Image result for The Fabulous Thunderbird

A personal note. Back in the early 70s I was working for the Texarkana based filmmaker, Charles B. Pierce. With the pile of money he made from The Legend of Boggy Creek he bought a Ferrari Datona, then barely had time to drive it when he was called home to resolve a problem with his backers. He wanted the car in Texarkana, so phoned and ordered me to drive it there.

I remember like it was yesterday the morning I set out, driving East on the Hollywood Freeway on the first leg of the journey to East Texas. I checked the dashboard. Gas tank on full. The speedometer went up to 150 MPH. After that, it read, OH WOW.

I managed to keep it below 80 most of the trip, mostly out of fear of smokey bears. But, after I passed through New Mexico and onto the grand highway in Texas, I waited till I could see the blacktop ahead for what seemed like infinity, and floored it.

Image result for Ferrari Daytona

It did not seem so fast as I passed 100, so I pushed onto to 120, 130, 150 . . . and then lost my nerve. Traveling at the wheel of one of the best cars in the world at 150 MPH is like a living dream.

I kept it to the speed limit, more or less, all the way to Texarkana from then on. After I arrived and handed Pierce the keys, he asked me, “how was the drive?”

“Just bitchin’.”

About John Welsh

When I was young, cinema was my religion and the theater was my church. No matter how bad new releases may appear, my faith endures. I have worked in movie post-production, production, as a story analyst, property master, script supervisor; just about anything that is required in low budget, nonUnion films.