Winning (1969)

Universal

A semi-exciting racing drama, “Winning” benefited from the Newmans' star presence. The tale deals with Frank Capua (Newman) a top car-racing driver who meets a divorcee (Joanne Woodward) with a teenage son (Richard Thomas).

An attachment grows between the couple who later get married. Frank offers to adopt Charley, her son, but the family bliss is hampered by his total commitment to and immersion in his racing career.  When he runs into bad luck and loses a number of races to his rival Luther Erding (Robert Wagner), Frank becomes all the more self-absorbed and neglectful of his duties as husband and father.

Elora then embarks on an affair with Erding, which ends abruptly when Frank finds the two in bed together. Frank moves out of the motel and when he and Erding cross swords in the competitive driving life, Frank grows bitter, especially when car owner Leo Crawford (David Sheiner) notes Frank's declining morale and allows Erding to race a car Frank has coveted.  Meanwhile, Charley sympathizes with his stepfather, and blaming his mom for the break-up, he hitchhikes to the Indianapolis track to watch Frank race Erding. His morale bolstered by the boy's affection, Frank decides to rebuild the car that Erding had burned out in a qualification run. He gets it in shape and qualifies it in time for the 500. a mammoth seventeen-car pile-up takes place during the race and Erding is knocked out when his engine fails. Frank wins the race. However, when Erding attempts to apologize for sleeping with his wife, Frank smacks him.

Upon learning that Elora and Charley have returned to their hometown. The guilt-ridden Frank realizes that his neglect had caused her infidelity and he seeks reconciliation.

In 1967, “Winning” was meant to be an NBC-TV presentation, but plans later changed, and it became an expensive ($7 million) movie, released theatrically in 1969, with Paul Newman and wife-actress Joanne Woodward in the starring roles.

Some spectacular footage, which was shot in 1968 at the 17-car crash during the Memorial Day Indianapolis 500, was incorporated into the picture.  An ace racer himself, Newman refused to use a double for some of the race sequences, and the studio had him insured for $3 million.

Cast

Paul Newman
Joanne Woodward
Richard Thomas
Robert Wagner
David Sheiner
Clu Gulager
Barry Ford
Bob Quarry
Eileen Wesson

With Toni Clayton Maxine Stuart Karen Arthur Paulene Myers Ray Ballard Charles Steel Alma Platt Harry Basch Allen Emerson Marianna Coe Carolyn McNichol Bobby Unser Tony Hlman George Mason Mimi Littlejohn Pat Vidan Bruce Walkup Timothy Galbraith Lon Palmer Joy Teynolds

Credits

A Universal-Newman-Foreman Production.
A Jennings Lang Production.
Produced by John Foreman.
Directed by James Goldstone.
Screenplay by Howard Rodman.
Photographed by Richard Moore.
Music by Dave Grusin.
Art Director, Alexander Golitzen, John J. Lloyd and Joe Alves.
Set Decorations, John McCarthy and George Milo.
Film Editors, Edward A. Biery and Richard C. Meyer.
Sound, Weldon O. Watson and James T. porter.
Makeup, Bud Westmore. Hairstyles, Larry Germain.
Associate Producer, George Santore.
Production Manager, Wally Worsley.
Assistant Director, Earl Bellamy, Jr.

Location scenes shot at the Indianapolis Speedway and at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Running time: 123 minutes.