One of the most fun things I have ever done in my life was go to a test track and drive a 1967 Shelby GT500. I’ve always loved Corvettes, and the way they look like they’re eating the road as they drive, but my boyfriend’s dad was a serious muscle car collector and he prized Mustangs above everything else. He was convinced he could turn me into a Mustang loyalist. I got to drive several of his cars and I did not change my allegiance, until he took us to a track and let me go with his ’67 Shelby. I can still recall with perfect clarity the way it felt to rocket off the line with barely a touch of gas, and how it sailed through corners with the softest touch. I still love Corvettes, but the thing that ended up turning me in favor of Mustangs, at least, the Shelby class Mustangs, was the story of how that car came to be. The car is a beautiful machine, but the engineering of that car is a GREAT story, involving the perfect cocktail of determination, competition, ingenuity, tragedy, and good old-fashioned American f-ck you. So I am not surprised someone finally got around to turning the story of the Shelby Mustangs into a movie.
It’s called Ford v. Ferrari, and holy hell is this trailer good. The movie is directed by James Mangold, who has a knack for movies that are both broadly appealing and classic award bait (see also: Walk the Line), and it stars Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale—looking very thin, once again—as race driver Ken Miles. The trailer also shows off Jon Bernthal as Lee Iacocca and Tracy Letts as Henry Ford II. This cast is extremely well-matched to the personality of the person they are playing, especially Bernthal as Iacocca. I think Matt Damon peaked with The Talented Mr. Ripley, but I do like his vibe as Carroll Shelby. It would be nice to forget for a second that he’s Matt Damon when he’s on screen, and though a trailer is not long enough to do that, this is promising. I am also extremely into Tracy Letts as Henry Ford II and his big crybaby moment after riding in a GT40, the race car Shelby and Miles built to upset Enzo Ferrari’s dominance in international grand prix racing. (In a fun coincidence, Bale almost played Ferrari in a biopic by Michael Mann.)
Henry Ford II wanted to beat Ferrari because Ford tried to buy Ferrari and the deal fell through when Ford wouldn’t let Enzo Ferrari retain control of his motorsports division, and then Ford got all offended and decided the best thing to do was crush Ferrari in international competition. So Ford ended up spending a fortune to develop the GT40, which…well watch the movie to see how that works out. He also got the Shelby fastback out of the deal, a car made famous in the 1968 film Bullitt. Henry Ford’s temper tantrum over Enzo Ferrari cancelling their deal led to one of the most productive periods in American automotive development, and returned America to the top of grand prix racing, a place it had not been since the 1920s when the Duesenberg roadster was the bee’s knees. So, basically, Ford v. Ferrari is epic boy sh-t set at the race track, and with a November release date, it is going for Oscar gold. I am here for it.