Push the button, Max.
~ Professor Fate to Max.

Professor Fate is the main antagonist in the 1965 slapstick comedy film The Great Race. He is portrayed as a clever and scheming, but incompetent and cliché villain (hence his stereotypical appearance). He takes part in the "New York to Paris" race which ends in draw.

He was portrayed by the late Jack Lemmon.


Initial Schemes

Professor Fate works as a daredevil but lives in the shadow of the much more famous and successful "Great Leslie" (Tony Curtis). Fate's stunts always backfire on him and he often attempts to sabotage Leslie's stunts. Sadly they always backfire on him as well. When Fate finds out Leslie will be competing in a long distance car race from New York to Paris, he enters quickly to prove his superiority.

He and his assistant Max build a high powered car, called the Hannibal Twin-8. It has a smokescreen, cannon and can even lift the passengers high above the wheels. While testing the car, Max presses the fire button, causing the garage to collapse. After repairing the garage, while eating Maggie Dubois sneaks into his house and is chased by dogs. Fate and Max goes to the garage, with Max warning Fate, the alarm will set off if the door opens in one inch.

However Maggie and the dogs unexpectedly enter the garage, causing the alarm to goes off and locks every windows and doors preventing them from leaving the garage. Maggie, Fate and Max are then chased around the car by the dogs, with Maggie taking shelter on Fate's car, while Fate and Max climbs on the barred door while trying to make the dogs go away. During the chaos Maggie accidentally fires the car's cannon when one of the dogs attempted to climb on the window of the car to attack her, making the garage to collapse again presumably killing the dogs and Fate and Max kicking Maggie out in the process.

Sabotaging the Racers

To gain less competition in the race, Fate ordered Max to sabotage the other cars that would be competing in the race with the exception of Leslie's car and Maggie Dobois' car. Cars 2, 3, 4 and 6 all suffered accidents when the race began. Max accidentally sabotaged his own car but he and Fate quickly repaired it.

Cheating on Boracho

Fate and Max arrived in Boracho Texas first, but rejected being the town's guest of honor and the fact they wouldn't get any gas until the next day. Instead, when Leslie arrived with Maggie (her car had broken down, disqualifying her from the race), he and Max infiltrated the party disguised as citizens. Fate learned of a gun-slinger named Texas Jack and decided to use him to kill Leslie. Jack arrived before Fate could get to him and soon the whole saloon was in a fistfight. Fate used this distraction to steal the gas he needed and burn Leslie's gas causing Leslie and the townspeople to put out the fire where the gas was. (Leslie later caught up) As they escaped he and Max almost collided with a train.


As Fate and Max arrived in Alaska, they were caught in a blizzard and were driven out of their car by a polar bear. They were forced to stay inside Leslie's car. During the night, they drifted afloat on a ice raft. Fate repeatedly fell of it during their travels. Eventually they arrived in Assia, where they find Hezekiah Leslie's mechanic who was being handcuffed in the train at Grommett by Maggie Dubois.

Royal Misandventure

After making it through Asia, Russia, and arriving in Carpania, Baron Rolf Stuppe kidnaps Fate and uses him to pose as a prince (also played by Lemmon) so that he can rule Carpania. Leslie help Fate escape and the largest pie fight in movie history ensues while Prince Hapnick banishes his general for involving in Stuppe's plot.


Fate and Max made it to Paris, but got lost when they drove down steps. Eventually they made it to the finish line at the Eiffel Tower just as Leslie stops his car right in front of it to prove his love to Maggie than winning the race. Fate won the race by default, but was outraged when the crowd did not cheer for him and by the fact he had not humiliated Leslie and the race becomes a draw. Fate challenged Leslie to another race back home to New York and Leslie orders him to get off the hood. Leslie and Maggie married and accepted Fate's challenge. As Leslie took an early lead, Max tried to shoot Leslie with the car's cannon, instead he blew up the Eiffel Tower causing it to collapse presumably killing him and Max and allowing Leslie to win the rematch by default.


Professor Fate: Genius Max, Genius what's next?
Max: Car Number 5, the engine falls out!
Professor Fate: Ha ha ha... uh Max, WE'RE number 5.
~ Professor Fate and Max on the car sabotaging.
Well, there's another one, Leslie can try on for size.
~ Profesor Fate after felling into a mud puddle
Leslie will lose! Your automobile will lose! I will win! (jumps out of the window laughing and holds on a flagpole) (Man: He jumped!) I shall build the greatest automobile in the world and I shall win! (a car with a bulls eye trampoline on it's roof pulls over below him ) (Max: Okay, professor!) This time, it will not be Leslie. It will be I Professor Fate! Fate the Magnificent! (lets go of the flagpole and lands on the tramboline, but he jumps up, as Max drives away and falls into the sewer) NOOOOOOOO!!!
~ Professor Fate challenging Leslie to the New York to Paris race and declares he will win, after his disguise is removed by mistake and falls unto the sewer after jumping out of the window into his car.
A pox on you!
~ Professor Fate to Maggie Dubois after she accidentally collapse his garage during the confrontation with the dogs.
(Max: Indian attack! We're being attacked!) Smokescreen, Max! Give them the smokescreen! (Max: Smokescreen!) (the car rises up) NO, YOU IDIOT! The Smokescreen! Push the button Max!
~ Professor fate and Max panicking upon seeing the men of the Sheriff of Boracho following them in their indian disguise believing they are attacking them and use their smokescreen on them.
But I don't wanna be a guest of honor!
~ Professor Fate being greeted in Boracho.
Rise and shine, rise and shiaaaaahne!
~ Professor Fate complaining about being woken up as he falls into freezing water.
Remember, one mistake and your dead."
~ Stuppe threatening Professor Fate.
I challenge you to another race!
~ Professor Fate at the end of the race after Leslie let him win by default due to his decision to prove his love for Maggie Dubois.


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