A car horn blast in the early morning. A tight shot of a ‘Blu Notte’ Giulietta Sprint Veloce as it pulls out to pass our camera car. Cut to the Alfa’s interior. The navigator checks his map – a snatch of conversation in Italian – the car screeches to a halt. Driver & navigator dash to the roadside and struggle with a cine camera & wooden tripod.
“Eccole!”. The camera is rolling just in time to capture a white Giulietta TI, at speed in the dawn light. A Malcolm Arnold fanfare & tumbling strings, as the film title fills the screen with a bold sans font.
With a Nino Rota soundtrack it could be different, but that fanfare gives the game away. This is advertising, all be it long-form storytelling of a kind that is lost in the era of online, mobile ‘content’. But perhaps that’s fitting, for the 35-minute film is of a great ‘lost’ event.
Welcome to the 1958 ‘Critérium International de la Montagne – Coupe des Alpes’… better known to anglophones as, The Alpine Rally. A five-day, three-country test of endurance, speed and concentration.
Needless to say, such an important & testing event had an exceptional entry. An exceptional entry attracted film crews from Pathé, marques, and suppliers… including Shell, who produced this film. Shell even went to the length of entering a camera car – “our Alfa”, number 212 – piloted by Dean Delamont & Denis Jenkinson, which really comes into it’s own in the brilliant Stelvio sequence.
There are many such films now available to us through YouTube, but this is perhaps the finest example. As a sporting, visual touchstone it has proved rather influential – most recently, elements of it have been included in a promotional film for Omologato watches.
Enough talk.. click the link! Be warned though – you will want to jump into an analogue car and head for the Alps.