Starring: Tony Curtis, Debbie Reynolds, Jack Oakie
Director: Robert Mulligan
Running Time: 105 mins
The Rat Race is an American film about an aspiring jazz musician from Milwaukee who travels to New York City to achieve his dreams. However, he soon realises the city isn’t the utopia he expected, and is forced to move into a small room with a woman, also disillusioned with the state of the New York rat race.
This isn’t an exceptional comedy-drama, but The Rat Race is a very solid, and consistently enjoyable watch. I may not have been laughing out loud, but the film’s successful combination of light comedy and elements of drama was fantastic to see, and along with two great central performances, it all makes for a good watch.
I’ll start off with those performances. Tony Curtis and Debbie Reynolds star in the lead roles, something that both of them were never hugely famed for, but they do a great job. Apart from the two having excellent chemistry that makes both their bickering and eventual strong relationship all the more convincing, they both pull off the comedy and the drama in the film with ease.
There may be a little imbalance in that, as in Curtis handles slightly more comedy than Reynolds, but there are moments throughout where they both get their chance to shine on either side of the spectrum, and they both impress on a consistent basis, providing a very solid centre for you to stay engaged in throughout.
Beyond the performances, there’s still a lot of good in the film. For one, it’s directed very well by Robert Mulligan, who manages to balance the comedy and drama to make the story both entertaining as well as genuinely interesting on a more serious level, whilst it’s an excellently-paced film too. There’s very little in The Rat Race that feels rushed or forced, and the progression of the story always appears very measured throughout, but it’s also never too slow or dull to prevent it from being an entertaining watch too.
If there’s one issue that I would have with this film, it would be some elements of the script. Again, I never laughed out loud watching The Rat Race, even when the film was clearly going for a big joke. Also, whilst not feeling too forced or cheesy, there are some points in this film where it feels like it’s fallen into a typical Hollywood trap, which was disappointing to see.
All in all, however, The Rat Race is a very solid film. It’s not going to set the world alight, and it’s not something you’ve never seen before, but it does provide a very enjoyable and interesting watch, with good directing and performances right at the centre, and that’s why it gets a 7.4 from me.