A Review of Claude Du Boc’s ‘The Quick and the Dead’

This is a retro review: The Quick and the Dead (originally released as One by One) is from 1978.  I had never seen it and, in fact, could not even find a copy of it.  MusclecarFilms solved that problem (vintage motorsports enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to check out their offerings).

1by1(Photo credit: MoviePosterDB)

In the 1970s, The Quick and the Dead was probably a cutting-edge, up-close look at a sport that most people experienced from a distance, if at all.  In recent years, we have been spoiled by films like SennaRush, and Grand Prix: The Killer Years (which was included on the same DVD), not to mention HD broadcasts of every race.  Claude Du Boc‘s documentary cannot compare.

There are still many positives in the film which make it worth watching, even today: Lots of historical on-track footage; revealing interviews with contemporary drivers like François Cevert, Jackie Stewart, and Peter Revson; and some behind-the-scenes shots (nothing like Senna, though).

Unfortunately, although the race action is thrilling, a lot of the ambient noise is drowned out with music.  Perhaps the sound quality was not good enough to include in the film, but the classical music does not match well with high-speed racing.

jsJackie Stewart at the 1970 Dutch Grand Prix
(Photo credit: Jim Culp via Flickr)

Another problem is the lack of narrative structure.  Du Boc cuts between interviews and on-track action which often have little to do with each other.  Also, the racing scenes are not put into context for viewers.  Stacy Keach narrates parts of the film, but there are many times where you are not sure what you are looking at.

One note of caution: The Quick and the Dead is not for people with weak stomachs.  In the mid-70s, F1 was still a very dangerous sport, and several fatal accidents are shown in their entirety.  These include Tom Pryce’s collision with a marshal at the 1977 South African Grand Prix, Jochen Rindt’s crash during practice for the Italian Grand Prix in 1970, and David Purley’s frantic and unsuccessful attempts to save Roger Williamson from his burning car at the 1973 Dutch Grand Prix.

For its historical value, this film is definitely worth a look, and it will certainly appeal to hardcore F1 fans and those with an interest in motorsport history.  Casual fans are advised to stick with the aforementioned, much more recent, films.


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