The Gumball Rally (1976) Blu-ray Review: Real Cars. Real Actors. Real Fun.

The Warner Archive Collection revs its engines up for one of the greatest cross-country race flicks to hail from the '70s.
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It never fails to amuse me how many road/race flicks spawned from the same decade now synonymous with "gas shortage." Similarly, those very motion pictures never fail to delight. And now, thanks to the ever-diligent efforts of the Warner Archive Collection, one of the first films to capitalize on Brock Yates' Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash ‒ which Yates himself would cash-in on a few years later with The Cannonball Run, after Burt Reynolds already had in Smokey and the Bandit ‒ has hit Blu-ray for home media enthusiasts who love seeing vintage (and very expensive) automobiles darting across the country and being destroyed in a variety of hilarious ways.

Charles Bail's The Gumball Rally centers on the plight(s) of several auto buffs who embark on a cross-country race to see who can make it from New York City to Long Beach first. With just one word ‒ "Gumball" ‒ from the race's chief architect, candymaker Michael Sarrazin, who is suffering from a bad case of boredom, the contestants descend upon a garage in NYC to engage in a race with only one rule to keep in mind: "There are no rules." (Take that, Fight Club.)

Among the assortment of great character actors prepared to break every record in the book are Nicholas Pryor, Tim McIntire, Harvey Jason (as an oddball motorcyclist nicknamed "The Mad Hungarian"), Gary Busey (in his slightly-less-batshit crazy days), Steven Keats, and Susan Flannery. Norman(n) Burton ‒ one of several actors to portray 007's American ally Felix Leiter (see: Diamonds Are Forever) ‒ plays Sarrazin's nemesis: an LAPD lieutenant who is determined to capture the motley crew of rogue drivers. But out of all of The Gumball Rally's array of amazing co-stars, none stand out as bright as the late Raúl Juliá (The Addams Family) as a philandering Italian who is just as unable to resist the ladies as they ladies are he.

Also lending their talents to this marvelous '70s comedy ‒ where, for the record, the actors did their own driving without resorting to using any commonly-employed gimmicks such as rear-projection ‒ are Colleen Camp (Wayne's World) and the unmistakable voice of the one and only Casey Kasem. Dominic Frontiere provides the score for this cult classic, which has joined the home video race thanks to the Warner Archive Collection. Boasting a positively jaw-dropping transfer, this Gumball is just as fresh as ever here, and is preserved for future generations to marvel over (look, kids, no CGI!) in its intended 2.40:1 aspect ratio. An equally impressive DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono soundtrack also delivers, and English (SDH) subtitles are available.

The only extra here is a cropped (1.78:1) and rather worn trailer, which should give viewers an idea of how much work the WAC put into this must-have movie.

Rev up your Blu-ray player and get this Rally underway.

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