The Rat Race

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This article is about the 1960 film. For the 1950 novel by Jay Franklin, see The Rat Race (novel). For other uses, see Rat race (disambiguation).
The Rat Race
The Rat Race - 1960 - Poster.png
1960 theatrical poster
Directed by Robert Mulligan
Produced by William Perlberg
Written by Garson Kanin
Starring Tony Curtis
Debbie Reynolds
Jack Oakie
Don Rickles
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography Robert Burks
Edited by Alma Macrorie
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • July 10, 1960 (1960-07-10) (U.S.)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $3,400,000 (US/ Canada)[1]

The Rat Race is a 1960 American drama film directed by Robert Mulligan and starring Tony Curtis and Debbie Reynolds as struggling young entertainment professionals in New York City. Filming took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Wishing to pursue a career as a jazz saxophonist, Pete Hammond Jr. (Curtis) takes a bus from his home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to New York City and optimistically begins looking for work. However, jobs are extremely hard to find.

He crosses paths with Peggy Brown (Reynolds), a model and dancer who has become jaded and cynical after years of struggling to survive in the city. She has just been evicted from an apartment rented to Pete, and because she is penniless and has no home to return to, he offers to let her stay with him. She is forced to rely on his generosity, and as the two of them work at various low-paying jobs, they stay together in the apartment as friends.

Peggy warns him that people can't be trusted, but Pete is encouraged when a band auditions him for a job. When the other musicians send him out for beer, Pete returns to find that they have stolen his instruments and that he is the victim of a scam.

When Pete finds a part-time job on a cruise ship, he writes to Peggy every day. She is in debt to an abusive club owner, Nelly Miller (Don Rickles), who strips Peggy of her dress and jewelry as a down payment and threatens her with violence. In love with Peggy and afraid for her, Pete gives up his wristwatch and saxophone to Nelly, who punches him as a further warning. Pete tells Peggy he loves her, so she agrees to tentatively begin a romantic relationship.


  1. ^ "Rental Potentials of 1960", Variety, 4 January 1961 p 47. Please note figures are rentals as opposed to total gross.

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