A belated sequel to Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines produced at Paramount after 20th Century Fox passed on the project, Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies - perhaps better known under its European title Monte Carlo or Bust - reunites many of the key players (director Ken Annakin, co-writer Jack Davies, composer Ron Goodwin and cartoonist Ronald Serle providing the titles) along with the star of The Great Race to rather less effect yet still manages to coast by as much on goodwill and good nature as on its own variable entertainment value. Trying to do for vintage cars what its 1965 predecessor did for vintage planes, it sets a multinational cast against each other in the Monte Carlo Rally, with Terry-Thomas (as the equally caddish son of his character in Flying Machines) betting his half of a car factory against his brash and all-too irritating American partner Tony Curtis Chester Schofield the First ("You mean there are TWO of them?") and, naturally, going all-out to cheat his way to victory with the reluctant aid of a put upon and blackmailed Eric Sykes. Also competing (and stealing most of the laughs) are British officers Peter Cook and Dudley Moore and their assortment of ingeniously misconceived inventions, Gert Frobe's crook smuggling diamonds across the border for master criminal Jack Hawkins (here dubbed by Robert Rietty), Italian policemen Walter Chiari and Lando Buzzanca and a gaggle of glamorous female doctors among them, while Susan Hampshire provides Curtis' often just irritating romantic interest.
Subsequently edited down to 93 minutes and retitled after poor initial box-office, even in this uncut two hour version the film often feels disjointed, with many characters either underused (Bourvil especially) or disappearing for long stretches of the running time - Terry-Thomas in particular as the film frequently seems to lose interest in their rivalry - giving the impression that large chunks of the story either hit the cutting room floor or never got shot to begin with: considering how many split-screen sequences there are in the film, possibly the former. Yet there are a couple of impressive stunts, a jaunty score from Ron Goodwin that keeps things moving and just enough funny moments to help it cross the finishing line.
Legend's Region-free Blu-ray has a much better 2.35:1 widescreen transfer of the two-hour version than their DVD release, offering much more detail, though the original US trailer that was on the DVD has not been included.
George Pal's Houdini is in many ways almost as much of a sideshow attraction and triumph of showmanship as Harry Houdini's celebrated illusions and escapes, opting for a print the legend version that offers 50s studio system glamour over substance and gets away with it rather magnificently. Despite being heavily fictionalised and even changing the cause of his death to give the film a bigger ending, it's not a complete travesty, hitting most of the key points - the beginnings in sideshow fakery, the great escapes, his increasing fascination with death and debunking fake mediums - while overlooking many of his more varied interests (criminology, inventions, aviation, movies) and completely ignoring his brother Hardeen (an accomplished magician and escapologist himself) as it concentrates on the love story. That's not so surprising considering the constraints of a 106-minute running time, particularly when the Houdinis are played by Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh at their most attractive. Like its stars, the film is a particularly good-looking Technicolor package ably directed by George Marshall and Ernest Lazslo's cinematography is well-represented by Legend's Blu-ray release (which, once again, does not include the trailer from their DVD release). As long as you're just looking for entertainment rather than insight, this fits the bill rather well with never a dull moment. Be warned, however, that the London scenes contain some blunkin' ore-ibble Angerlish uccents, an' thet's a fakt, givna.
on 11 June 2013
Yet another of those 'hard to get' British Comedies that the Yanks have made unavailable through their silly Regions formatting.
In fact i have never seen this available on region 2 under it's 1969 British title 'MONTE CARLO OR BUST' Which even has a title song on the opening sequence soundtrack under that name,sung by Jimmy Durante.
Obviously Americans don't know what or where Monte Carlo is, so they changed the title to 'THOSE DARING YOUNG MEN IN THEIR JAUNTY JALOPIES' probably even with subtitles in order to understand the British Humour.
As this was also directed by Ken Annakin who had directed the all star British & European 'THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES' four years earlier, maybe it was a better idea to warn the locals that this was not just a re-run but better version of Blake Edwards 'THE GREAT RACE' which also starred Tony Curtis.
Although I have enjoyed all 3 of the above mentioned films from my cinema going days of my youth I am a Ken Annakin fan rather than a Tony Curtis fan.
Now thanks to Blu-Ray we finally have 'THOSE DARING YOUNG MEN IN THEIR JAUNTY JALOPIES' coupled with 'HOUDINI'
which although not a collector of American films, brings me a bit of nostalgia as (Apart from Saturday morning children's matinees)it was the very first colour feature i ever saw.