“C’était un Rendez-vous” (which translates to “It Was a Date”) is probably one of the most famous least-well-known car films: An eight-or-so minute high-speed run through the nearly empty streets of Paris, the whole thing shot from a camera fitted to the bumper of what sounds like a Ferrari (it was actually a Mercedes 450SEL 6.9 with the engine noises from filmmaker Claude Lelouch’s 275GTB dubbed in). At the end of the run, a woman waits. You could question why any self-respecting Frenchman would schedule a date that begins at dawn, but still. (If you’re interested in watching it, some scoundrel posted the full movie to YouTube.) Today, Lelouch, who made the 1976 original and drove the camera car, released his pseudo remake, “Le Grand Rendez-Vous. “ (So, “The Big Date”—French loses all its magic when you translate it, doesn’t it?)
“Le Grand Rendez-Vous” was shot in Monaco on Sunday, May 24, the day the canceled 2020 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix was supposed to be held. Instead, we have Monaco-born Scuderia Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc and an honest-to-goodness Ferrari SF90 Stradale set loose on the Grand Prix course. He runs it at high speed, and waiting for him at the end is—wait for it, wait for it—Prince Albert II of Monaco!
Leclerc gives the masked prince a thrill ride on the course, and then finishes to find the girl waiting. She now has a name: Rebecca the Florist. (Which would have sounded better in French.) In real life she’s Rebecca Blanc-Lelouch, granddaughter of director Lelouch and Gunilla Friden, the beauty who was waiting for him at the end of the original film.
Unlike the 1976 “Rendez–Vous,” “Le Grand Rendez-Vous” was a properly organized production, with 15 cameras, two Ferraris, a full rehearsal (you can see tire marks in some of the shots) and, y’know, permission. There are a scant few people and cars on the course, and we assume they knew what was happening when a 1,000-ish-hp Ferrari screamed by at full tilt.
As a result, the new “Le Grand Rendez-Vous” doesn’t have the gritty made-on-impulse feeling of the reprehensibly dangerous outlaw original, and it’s easy to dismiss this as a glorified Ferrari commercial. But it’s still a cool film with a well-driven fast Ferrari and lots of action. And masks. Watching it is five and a half minutes well spent.