Red Line 7000

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Red Line 7000
Poster of the movie Red Line 7000.jpg
Directed by Howard Hawks
Produced by Howard Hawks
Written by George Kirgo
Based onstory by Howard Hawks
Starring James Caan
Laura Devon
Gail Hire
Charlene Holt
John Robert Crawford
Marianna Hill
Music by Nelson Riddle
Cinematography Milton R. Krasner
Edited by Stuart Gilmore
Bill Brame
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
‹See TfM›
  • November 9, 1965 (1965-11-09)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2,500,000 [1]

Red Line 7000 is a 1965 American action sports film released by Paramount Pictures. It was directed by Howard Hawks, who also wrote the story. It stars James Caan, Laura Devon and Marianna Hill in a story about young stock-car racers trying to establish themselves and about the complicated romantic relationships in their lives. The title refers to the red line on the RPM meter which was then placed at 7000rpm, beyond which the engine was in danger of blowing.


The film features multiple sections of real life racing and crashes interspersed with the plot.


A racing team run by Pat Kazarian starts out with two drivers, Mike Marsh and Jim Loomis, but a crash at Daytona results in Jim's death. His girlfriend Holly McGregor arrives too late for the race and feels guilty for not being there.

A young driver, Ned Arp, joins the team and also makes a play for Kazarian's sister, Julie. A third driver, Dan McCall, arrives from France and brings along girlfriend Gabrielle Queneau, but soon he develops a romantic interest in Holly.

Arp is seriously hurt in a crash, losing a hand. Mike, meanwhile, doesn't care for Dan's ways with women and tries to run him off the track in a race, but Dan survives. He and Holly end up together, but Mike is consoled by Gabrielle.

The movie is distinguished by the appearance of a 1965 Shelby GT-350 racing on the track, and one of the characters drives a Cobra Daytona Coupe as his street car. For Shelby enthusiasts, this is one of the few movies they appeared in. The car used in the movie is Chassis #CSX2601, the fourth of the six coupes built. In real life this car was raced in eight FIA races in 1965 (Daytona, Sebring, Monza, Spa, Nürburgring, LeMans, Reims, Enna), and won four times in GT III class (Monza, Nürburgring, Reims, Enna). After the movie it was bought by one of the drivers who raced it, Bob Bondurant. Bondurant sold it in 1969. [2]




The film was based on an original idea by Howard Hawks though the script was written by George Kirgo. Hawks said the film would feature "three old fashioned hot love stories about these racers and their girls. They have their own code. They kid about danger. They aren't tough guys but they talk awful rough. The picture will have something of a wartime feeling: on Friday night a girl doesn't know if a boy will still be alive on Saturday night." [3]

Hawks said he originally wanted to tell just the one story but then "suddenly it hit me. 'This is a lot of padding'. Today audiences are way ahead of us. So I added two more stories and now we tell so much more in a few scenes without having to lead up to them step by step. In other words, stripped of all the non essentials." [3] Hawks said that in his film "you don't care who wins the race; it's the people who count." [3]


Howard Hawks had enjoyed success discovering stars in the past (Lauren Bacall, Carole Lombard, George Raft) and decided to cast the film with six newcomers plus Charlene Holt and Norman Alden. He said it took five months to cast them. The six newcomers were Gail Hire, Mariana Hill, Laura Devon, James Ward, John Crawford and James Caan (though Caan had been in Lady in a Cage). [3] Howard Hawks considered casting Paul Mantee, who had done Paramount's Robinson Crusoe on Mars , in the lead role, but chose another Paramount star, James Caan. [4]

Carol Connors was a singer who had sold over 8 million records. She wrote two songs for the movie: "Wildcat Jones" and "Prudence Pim of the PTA". [5]

George Takei appears in a supporting role one year before his performance on Star Trek . Teri Garr appears uncredited as a go-go dancer in a nightclub.


Filming started January 1965. [6]

NASCAR driver Larry Frank helped to film the movie by allowing the film crew to mount cameras on his car. Frank later drove the camera-car in a NASCAR race.

The film features tracks like Daytona International Speedway, Darlington Raceway, and Atlanta Motor Speedway. In this film, it features many crashes from the season, including A. J. Foyt's violent crash at Riverside International Raceway earlier in the year. The camera cars were provided by the Ford company and entered in a regular race with a regular driver. "We're trying to give the sensation of what it means to go that fast - 170 mph - in a car." [3]


The Los Angeles Times called it "rapid, exciting entertainment." [7]

In 1967 Hawks said it was a mistake to cast so many newcomers in the film. "Newcomers are good when you have some competent people to hold them up," he said. "That's why I wouldn't try Red Line 7000 again. It's always been a habit of mine to put new people with pros. It holds them together, gives them a key to tempo. There was nobody for them to take a cue from in Red Line." [8]

The director later said he did not like the movie, feeling it was a problem cutting between stories. "When I got people interested in two people I cut over and started to work with two more and when the audience got interested in them I went over to two others and pretty soon the audience got disgusted and I got disgusted too," said Hawks. "To be serious I think there were some pretty good things in it but as a piece of entertainment I don't think I did a good job. I think there were some individual scenes that were pretty good and there were a lot of great race scenes. But I'm not proud of the picture as a whole." [9]

Caan later called the film "a joke". [10]

Quentin Tarantino is a fan of the film:

If I were to direct a racing movie I would look to mimic a lot of that Sixties AIP flavour. I would probably draw inspiration from Howard Hawks' Red Line 7000 ... It's not pretentious, like Grand Prix and stuff, but the story isn't dissimilar. It's got soap opera with everyone trying to sleep with everyone else, but it's done in a fun way. It actually plays like a really great Elvis Presley movie. Elvis' racing movies were good but not this good. I like the way that Red Line 7000 has a community of characters all staying in this Holiday Inn together and hanging out. That's a cool platform. [11]

See also

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  1. Anticipated rentals accruing distributors in North America. See "Top Grossers of 1965", Variety, 5 January 1966 p 36
  2. Phillips, Drew (August 16, 2009). "Monterey 2009: Shelby Daytona Coupe sells for record $7.25 million". Autoblog. Retrieved November 14, 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Howard Hawks' Eagle Eye for Film Realism Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 24 Jan 1965: b4.
  4. p. 201 Weaver, Tom Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Flashbacks: Conversations with 24 Actors, Writers, Producers and Directors from the Golden Age McFarland, 1 Jan. 2004
  5. Harrison to Star in Musical 'Chips': 'The Train' Will Be Screened at New Art Museum Theater Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times27 Jan 1965: C8.
  6. Looldng at Hollywood: Howard Hawks Gives Youth a Break in Movie Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Tribune 2 Jan 1965: 1.
  7. 'Red Line' a Winner Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times 26 Nov 1965: d20.
  8. Howard Hawks: No Hollywood Hoopla: HOWARD HAWKS Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times 27 June 1967: d1.
  9. 'Do I Get to Play the Drunk This Time?': an encounter with Howard Hawks McBride, Joseph; Wilmington, Michael. Sight and Sound; London Vol. 40, Iss. 2, (Spring 1971): 97.
  10. If Jimmy Caan had it to do over Clifford, Terry. Chicago Tribune 9 Mar 1975: g18.
  11. "QUENTIN TARANTINO: MY FAVOURITE RACING MOVIES" F1 Social Diary 21 August, 2013 Archived 2014-07-07 at accessed 5 July 2014