With the premiere of Ford v Ferrari only a month away, I'm starting to get excited about what the finished product will look like. I'm already familiar with the general history behind the movie, Henry Ford II's spurned attempt to buy Ferrari, and Ford's subsequent 4-peat at Le Mans in the Ford GT40 headed by Carroll Shelby and his band of misfits. But will the movie capture the "feel" of the age, the magnitude of those wins and a sympathetic portrayal of the characters involved? An interview with Matt Damon on Jay Leno's Garage and another trailer help to answer some of those questions.
An earlier review by our own Sean Murray highlights the broad strokes of the movie along with the first trailer. You should check it out. In the interim, a second trailer was released. It's worth a look too.
Next up is Jay Leno's Garage. Jay starts the segment with a great, tongue-in-cheek review of the historical background of the movie before Matt Damon, who I'm reluctantly warming up to if only because he's portraying one of my childhood idols, Carroll Shelby, pulls up in a Shelby Cobra. Upon Damon's dismount, Jay quickly pulls out an issue of Road & Track that he purchased when he was 15 years old and positions Damon and the cars to recreate the front cover. Jay seemed quite animated.
As the discussion turns to the movie, I am impressed with Damon's self-deprecating nature and knowledge of the history, cars, and men behind the movie. He appears to have done his homework and understands what a dangerous enterprise racing was in the days before anti-lock brakes and stability control. As Damon correctly notes, Enzo Ferrari's nickname, and one of the reasons he was viewed with simultaneous fear and loathing in racing circles, was "The Assassin."
Other parts of the movie that seem to be spot on, although I hope it's not overdone, is Ford corporate culture in the 50's. The company man philosophy was common across the country from IBM, GM, Ma Bell, and others. I see the same dynamic at play in clips of Henry Ford II, CEO of Ford and grandson of ole' Henry, played by Tracy Letts and Leo Beebe, Ford's Racing Director, played by Josh Lucas.
And then, of course, there are the cars. One of my fears, and something to which Damon put me at ease, is that all the cars, stunts, driving, and racing are real. No CGI! Every time I see a comic book or action movie it looks plastic, soft, washed out and unnatural. The trailers definitely have a raw grit to them which elevates the Cobras, Ferraris, GT40s, Corvettes, and etc. where they belong - as stars just as big as Damon and Christian Bale. So mark November 15th on your calendar and put some popcorn on your grocery list because Ford v Ferrari is going to be a good one. Buckle up.