My Real Feelings Regarding Ford v. Ferrari
*Editors Note: There are a few spoilers in this article. Also, due to quotes, this article contains a bit of vulgarity. Please be aware of this before you read this. And please, no hate mail. Also, a HUGE thank you to Gary… the experience was so amazing ~Doni
The hype around the movie “Ford v Ferrari” was buzzing for months before the movie released. If you are in the car world at all, you knew about the movie. I knew I would be seeing the movie along with my enthusiast family as soon as we were physically able. What I didn’t know at the time was that I would be seeing the movie in Las Vegas, with our friend Larry, along with the friends and family of Shelby American. It was really something watching the movie with Aaron Shelby (Carroll’s grandson) and Gary Patterson (President of Shelby American). Made the experience even more surreal!
First off, you should see the movie. Critics are all over the place with this movie. Some say it had historical errors. Some didn’t like some of the dialogue. Yet others stated it was one of the best historical car/racing movies out there. I think the critiques are a mess for a reason. Because it is a highly entertaining film, you either have to enjoy the story, or step out and pick it apart. It would be tough to do both. So, I refuse to pick it apart. This is my ‘small print disclaimer’.
I LOVED this movie. First off, I have been a Matt Damon fan since the Jason Bourne series, and he continues to be believable and relatable on-screen as he showcases his representation of Carroll Shelby. Christian Bale comes through brilliantly as Ken Myles, the temper tantrum riddled, yet masterful racer and mechanic for the Shelby American Ford team. You’ll either have to understand the history behind the last statement or watch the movie to understand why there were multiple Ford teams. Ken’s antics are both hysterical and cringe-worthy at the same time. It was funny when he threw the wrench at the windshield of the Shelby… but watching him beat the hell out of the same car made me want to cry. But, alas, that was Ken Miles.
I have no way to truly know what the relationship was between Ken and his wife Mollie. However, I am a romantic and I am one who totally bought into the love story that ran parallel to the Shelby story. Caitriona Balfe was believable and brought an appropriate amount of sex appeal to the story. I have heard critics complain about my second favorite dialogue between Ken and Mollie: (copied from moviequotesandmore.com)
Ken Miles: Can I help you, miss?
Mollie Miles: Wasn’t that an MGA fifteen hundred?
Ken Miles: Ah, you know your cars.
Mollie Miles: Well, I like them. I like the sound they make. The way it goes right through you.
Ken Miles: Right.
Mollie Miles: That vibration.
Ken Miles: Mine is the wood panel, country squire, across the street.
[points to the car across the street]
Ken Miles: A real hot rod.
Mollie Miles: Oh, yeah? Is it fast?
Ken Miles: Very. Wait a second. What type of girl are you?
[she walk up close to him]
Mollie Miles: The type of girl who likes the smell of wet gasoline.
Ken Miles: Oh.
Mollie Miles: Burnt rubber.
Ken Miles: What are you, some kind of a deviant? Are you?
[both chuckle and she puts her arms around his neck]
Mollie Miles: Well, since I married you.
[she kisses him]
The problem supposedly is that she likes the smell of ‘wet gasoline’. First off… why the heck did someone think to pick this apart? The comment I read was basically what else is there? Well. There is old gas, new gas, racing fuel, and the smell of gas riddled clothing after a fuel pump replacement has gone awry…. And that smell is terrible. But the smell of gasoline freshly pumped into a car, especially the ethanol-free stuff that we run in our old cars. Rawr. I like it too. Go on Mollie. I got you.
I mentioned this is my second favorite dialogue between Mollie and Ken in the movie. My first favorite got me cheering in the theatre. There is a scene where Mollie is pissed off at Ken. The scene starts off with it appearing to be a relatively standard drive. She beings stating the fact “You were out late last night”. None of us women had any doubt that this was the beginning of an epic fight. And when she didn’t like the answers (Ken was being quite evasive) she floors it. The dialogue starts:
Ken: You’re driving very fast
Mollie: Oh Am I? Am I.
Ken: Yes you are!
(Mollie swerves to avoid car in front of her)
Ken continues to plead with an irate Mollie to slow down
Ken: Are you trying to kill us or something?
Mollie: Oh I thought we loved this shit!
(Mollie swerves through more traffic)
Mollie: A bit of racing fun, no?
Ken: No! It’s not the same at all!
Mollie: WELL I THINK IT’S THRILLING!
Mollie then confronts Ken about her seeing him leaving with Carroll and then coming back. He admits that he went to look at a car. A racing car… Kinda. Her foot stays glued to the floor as a sharp curve looms ahead.
Ken: Are you going to lift your foot off at all though this?
Mollie: NO! Cause I like a clean racing line.
The argument continues through the curve where she ultimately slams on the brakes and they discuss what is going on. Which I can’t divulge without giving too much of the plot away. But when Mollie yelled that last bit, I was in hysterics.
Seriously though, there are so many brilliant dialogues in this movie that I simply cannot give them all credit. Lee Iacocca (played by Jon Bernthal was a fantastic character that was well-loved in the movie, while the Ford executive that we all loved to hate, Leo Beebe (played by Josh Lucas) was played brilliantly enough that most of us walking out of the movie felt that he was the epitome of everything that is wrong with corporate America.
We won’t even get into the little mini conversations that if you miss them, you miss a good chuckle. Like this example:
Phil Remington : [after Carroll steals two stopwatches from the Ferrari pit] Nice stopwatch.
Carroll Shelby : Want one? They’re Italian.
The bottom line, of course, is the movie isn’t 100% historically accurate. No movie ever is. Of course, there are embellishments. But the history happened. Carroll Shelby did the main things the movie said. While he didn’t lock Beebe in his office and bet the company on a race, there are many more things that we accurate. And Ken Miles, according to the Slate.com article was pretty accurate all the way around. And in fact, when Ken chose to come in at last with the other two Fords to ‘tie’ at LeMans, in real life, the real Miles said something that probably would have made for a delightful line-reading from Bale: “I think I’ve been fucked.” Slate.com also states that the racing carnage was quite accurate, between the accidents due to the historically accurate weather, and the mechanical failures. In real life, it turns out that Shelby regretted agreeing with Beebe and Ford to suggest that Ken Myles tied for first. He was killed in real life only a few months after his heart was broken (the records showed him not tying for the win, but not winning at all due to a technicality).
The movie is heartbreaking at the end, and after seeing it a couple of times already (and more times will be in my future when it is released) I strongly recommend tissues. I cried when Ken’s son Peter ran out to the trash pile and grabbed all of his dad’s trophies that were canned and his them under his bed. I cried when I watched the movie the second time and Ken was showing Peter the ‘perfect lap’ on a map of LeMans on the floor. I cried when Miles won Daytona. If you are emotional, be ready. The last race setup scene is rough. But the movie is phenomenal. And when you think of who the real-life people are, who Carroll, Ken, Phil, Lee, and the rest of the people were, they deserve this. They are now known by a whole new generation and I think that was a brilliant move. My teenagers know who these guys are and it has sparked so much conversation about how Shelby even came to be a company. May their memory be long-lived, and hopefully, when the movie is released to us to view at home, may the hype continue.