33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars They go up tiddily up up up, they go down, diddily down down...
Set around a fictional 1910 London to Paris air race and the rivalries of the pioneer aviators it attracts from all around the world to risk life, limb and some dodgy back-projection in the Paris sequences, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, or How I Flew From London to Paris in 25 Hours and 11 Minutes began life as a project on pilots Alcock and Brown for...
Published on 11 Jan 2009 by Trevor Willsmer
3.0 out of 5 stars Slower moving than those flying machines.
I thought I'd buy this after watching it as a kid at the local fleapit when it first came out - it's dated badly (or maybe my exdpectations were just too high). Slow moving and generally uninteresting. The only really funny thing about it was a line from Robert Morley - "The trouble with these international affairs is that they attract foreigners." But at least...
Published 20 months ago by RJH
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars They go up tiddily up up up, they go down, diddily down down...,
Set around a fictional 1910 London to Paris air race and the rivalries of the pioneer aviators it attracts from all around the world to risk life, limb and some dodgy back-projection in the Paris sequences, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, or How I Flew From London to Paris in 25 Hours and 11 Minutes began life as a project on pilots Alcock and Brown for Alexander Korda. Director Annakin had already reconstructed many of the vintage aircraft before the producer's death took the project with him.
As with The Longest Day, the story provided 20th Century Fox with a great opportunity to increase its foreign box-office prospects by populating the film with popular actors from around the world, while its episodic structure and the sheer size of the cast meant that many could film their parts in a matter of days, keeping the budget manageable. As a result, many are so brief that blink-and-you'll-miss-them (Red Skelton, Tony Hancock, Benny Hill).
If it is typical of the international co-productions that were to follow it, it is atypical in that it is also quite funny and highly entertaining. This despite studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck wanting to play down the comic aspects of the film, cutting many early scenes from the script and the rough-cut and building up the rather lukewarm romantic triangle with Stuart Whitman and James Fox fighting over Sarah Miles.
The colour in the casting is definitely on the sidelines. Gert Frobe is memorable as the pompous Prussian learning to fly "from ze book of instructions," as is the briefly seen Tony Hancock as a less than successful inventor whose real-life plaster cast on his broken foot was written into the script to provide one of the film's biggest laughs. But, despite the large ensemble, the undisputed star of the show is easily Terry Thomas at his most caddish as the archetypal cheat and rotter Sir Percy Ware Armitage, making a great double act with Eric Sykes as his put-upon chauffeur that was surely the inspiration for Dastardly and Muttley.
Ron Goodwin's catchy score and Ronald Serle's cartoons catch the mood perfectly, and the planes - built to original specifications - are quite wonderful to watch while the spoilsports among you will have fun looking out for the modern cars (such as the Land Rover clearly visible about an hour into the film) and the Sixties ferries in the Dover and Calais sequences.
Unfortunately, like many Fox Classics titles, the UK PAL DVD is extras-lite - the NTSC version has a much better collection, though Twilight Time's excellent region-free Blu-ray transfer is the one to go for. Where the DVD's generally very good transfer had a few shots that had a slight milkiness and one joke was lost as the sign on Jeremy Lloyd's co-pilot, 'I am the first dog to fly', was illegible, the limited edition Blu-ray had no such problems and is the best I've seen the film look outside of its 70mm Todd AO screenings. It also includes an audio commentary by director Ken Annakin, an isolated score track for Ron Goodwin's excellent score, 2 TV spots, teaser trailer and full theatrical trailer and booklet and is well worth tracking down.
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great value family entertainment,
I've waited for years for this film to come out on DVD and now that I've bought it can happily say it was worth the wait in gold! it is an airborne version of the Wacky Races and must have surely inspired this entire genre.
The film is packed with character actors from 50s and 60s including inimitable and much missed greats such as Terry Thomas, Robert Morley, Eric Sykes, Benny Hill and Gert Frobe. They all clearly had fun making it which means there are plenty of laughs.
What is extraordinary is that the film was made long before the clever special effects we take for granted today, so many of the stunts and flying sequences are real and breathtaking. The film is chock full of classic scenes like the hot air balloon duel and the plane landing on the train.
I would be lying if i said it wasn't a bit dated, and its rampant pro-Britishness is a bit toe-curling at times, but on balance, it is a fine piece of entertainment and the kind of movie that is all too rare these days: one that the whole family can sit down in front of and enjoy together.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic - harmless fun with stereotypes,
By A Customer
Yes, I am an aviation enthusiast, and so I am a bit biased. But this movie is still fabulous. The race of planes between London and Paris is a setting for a wide group of characters - each a stereotype of the nation he's from. Seeing them is already wacky enough, seeing them attempting to fly planes is just hillarious. You can laugh with all your heart at the Germans, the French, the Italians, the British and the Scottish being exactly as we always imagined them as kids. The only annoying character is the American, the closest thing to a hero in this movie. It's harmless fun for the whole family.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgic Sunday Afternoon Movie,
By A Customer
As a boy, this was the sort of movie that the whole family would watch, never mind how many times we had seen it before. The jokes are predictable and the characters typecast in a way that would unthinkable in the politaclly correct millenium, but the overall effect is endearing rather than racist, and we would all laugh at the slapstick humour of it all (yes "Benny Hill" makes an appearance) What I love about the movie is the characterisations themselves. Gert Fröbe (The guy who played Goldfinger!) is hysterical as the monocle wearing German Officer decked out in The Kaiser's finest regalia ("Nothing is impossible for a German Officer!") and Terry Thomas plays himself as the classic English Cad. The cinematopgraphy seems a trite slow when watched now, but I think this adds to the charm and the "romantic" element is almost cringeworthy, but it doesnt matter as You know you are watching a period piece, and you wouldnt want it any different
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High Flying Entertainment!,
What a marvellous film and certainly one of the wackiest films ever made in film history. A wealthy newspaper proprietor (Robert Morley) decides to sponsor an air-race from London to Paris. The invitation to race attracts competitors from all around the world and the usual villain or two intent on winning by cunning methods and devices.Terry-Thomas is in brilliant form as the villain here.
With an international star-studded cast such as James Fox, Stuart Whitman,Sarah Miles, Gert Frobe, Jean Pierre Cassel and the likes of the late Dame Flora Robson, Tony Hancock and Benny Hill to name but a few this film is unforgettable.It's zany, funny, mad and totally loud. This film has always been one of my favourite films since childhood and every time I see it I'm thoroughly entertained and never disappointed.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic,
I remember the first time I saw this movie in the cinema as a kid. It is one of the few movies I really remember from that time and I have always wanted to see it again.
But it is always a big risk that you will be disappointed when you see such films 40 years later. Times have changed and movies have developed. But not so here!! I probably laughed even more this time and as an adult you also catch some points that you did not notice as a child.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars still magnificent men,
for anybody who hasn't seen this movie i suggest you buy it. it may be the best part of three hours but it's three hours of tears of laughter with some great turns by the likes of terry thomas eric sykes and benny hill
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hancock woefully under-used in this otherwise great comedy,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In the first half of the sixties there were three similar epic comedies made; It's a Mad Mad Mad World, The Great Race, and this charming film, Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines. In my opinion, Magnificent Men... is the second best of the three, not as good as The Great Race, but superior to ...Mad World.
There are many good synopsis' from previous reviewers posts, so rather than repeat what has already been stated, I will try to add a few original comments of my own.
As someone who loves the work of Tony Hancock, I feel that in this film he is woefully under-used and the picture could have been funnier if Tony had a bigger role. Although there are many great comedy actors in the film; Terry Thomas, Benny Hill and Eric Sykes to name but three, and realising that the film wasn't designed to be a vehicle for Hancock, I still think the makers of the film missed a fantastic opportunity to properly showcase the talents of Britains greatest ever comedy actor.
Other great performances in the film as well as the ones mentioned above include, Gert Frobe (James Bond's Mr Goldfinger), Robert Morley, Sarah Miles, Irina Demick and the under-rated Willy Rushton. I sometimes wonder about the fun off-camera that the likes of Hancock, Thomas, Hill, Sykes and Rushton may have had when not bound by script and direction.
The film on this dvd has exceptional picture quality in widescreen and very good 5.0 audio.
Footnote: Just three years after this film was made, Willy Rushton would be flying back to England from Australia with Tony Hancocks ashes after "The Lad" took his own life in Sydney. Rushton, who was travelling economy class was asked by airline staff what was in his luggage, he replied that it contained Hancocks ashes. The member of staff told Rushton that Mr Hancock deserves to travel in first class on his final trip - and promptly put Tonys ashes in the first class compartment.
5.0 out of 5 stars "How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes". Tiddley up up, tiddley down down...))),
This is one of my most favourite comedies. I saw it no less than five times in my life and every time I liked it even more. A wonderful, merry, intelligent and heart-warming film. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.
In 1910, at a time when aircraft were still fragile and unreliable contraptions, Lord Rawnsley (Robert Morley) a British newspaper magnate, decides to sponsor an air race from London to Paris, offering a shocking 10.000 pounds as the prize. That immediately attracts numerous intrepid competitors, of which no less than fourteen will finally qualify to participate. Here they are, in order of starting numbers
Number 1: Richard Mays (James Fox); a very formal Army officer, Mays is also courting (well, sort of) Patricia (Sarah Miles), the daughter of Lord Rawnsley
Number 2: Sir Percy Ware-Armitage (Terry-Thomas, splendid as always!), a ghastly character and a vilainous cheater
Number 3: Orvil Newton (Stuart Whitman) from Arizona, a brilliant (but so colonial) pilot; the only American in the contest; he also courts Patricia, in a much more direct way than Richard Mays...
Number 4: Lieutenant Parsons (Jeremy Lloyd), a Royal Navy officer; a rather likeable fellow, who flies with his pet dog, "The First Flying Dog in History"
Number 5: Harry Popperwell (Tony Hancock); his plane is somehow mysteriously named "Little Fiddler"
Number 6: Captain Rumpelstoss (Karl Michael Vogler) and later Colonel Manfred von Holstein (Gert Froebe, absolutely wonderful!); those two Prussian officers from Imperial German Army were mandated by the Kaiser in person to win - at all price!
Number 7: Mr Wallace. As I couldn't even find the name of the actor who plays him you can reasonably assume, that his participation will be short...
Number 8: Charles Wade. Same thing as above...
Number 9: Mr Yamamoto (Yujiro Ishihara), an extremely impressive Japanese pilot, flying a splendid airplane. Mr Yamamoto is one of the favourites in this race.
Number 10: Count Emilio Ponticelli (Alberto Sordi, hilarious!), an Italian aristocrat who survived a record number of crashes, but who is also one helluva pilot. The count is also married to splendidly beatiful Sophia (Zena Marshall), who gave him nine children and who every day begs him to finally stop flying...
Number 11: Henri Monteux. Same thing as points 7 and 8.
Number 12: Pierre Dubois (Jean-Pierre Cassel), a brilliant (but so continental) French pilot whose two main purposes in this race seem to be to sleep with every woman he meets and especially to troll the Germans...)))
Number 13: Mr Mac Dougall (Gordon Jackson), a proud Scot flying a proud airplane proudly named "Wake up Scotland"
Number 14: Harry Walton. Same thing as points 7, 8 and 11.
For the needs of this film the director requested that authentic flying replicas of some of planes which really existed in 1910 are build - and those planes were really used! For that reason this film gives really a great feeling of authenticity.
There are many other treasures in this film, like national stereotypes, Benny Hill as fireman, air crashes, slapstick humour, romance, sexism and sexual harassment, German military, Courtney (the low-class butler of Sir Percy), "La Marseillaise", blunderbusses, national stereotypes, Catholicism, sabotage, promiscuity, fistfights, guineas, female underwear, one HUGE navigation error, white cliffs of Dover, diarrhea, cultural shock, practical jokes, national stereotypes, Neanderthal man, French kissing and last but not least Brigitte (Irina Demick), Marlene (Irina Demick), Ingrid (Irina Demick), Françoise (Irina Demick), Yvette (Irina Demick) and Betty (Irina Demick)...)))
I absolutely LOVE this film! It is one of the best comedies EVER. To watch ABSOLUTELY!
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Family Rainly Sunday Afternoon Film,
I bought this film like many at the moment to re-capture my youth as I remember it being shown at my school for some reason. I now have children of my own I find it difficult to find `suitable' films which the whole family can enjoy on a rainy Sunday afternoon, well this was the film last weekend.
We all enjoyed it, with the children having some laugh out loud moments, it is genteel and fun. On a serious note the film does a great job of showing how things have progressed over the years, and the last caption saying that this journey would have taken around 25 hours in 1910 and now could take as little as 7 minutes really highlights these changes.
Another part of the film which is now unheard of and normally taken out of the DVD releases is the interlude, in full and with only music, again is shows how things have changed over the years, my children did not really appreciate this however it brought a smile to my face when asked has it finished!
The follow up film `Those Daring Young Men In Their Jaunty Jalopies' is next on our to watch list, I hope it lives up to this one... either way this is worth watching.
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Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] by Ken Annakin (DVD - 2004)