Monday, 5 October 2009

Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965)

Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines is about a London-Paris flying race, set in the early years of flying when this journey took about 25 hours. It's a rather overlong movie and sadly lacking in genuine laughs, yet it retains a certain naive charm and it does have one or two very funny moments. (Probably my favourite is when the Italian competitor, having has to make an emergency landing, manages to enlist the help of local convent sisters by telling them that if they didn't help him, the race would be won by a Protestant.)

Featuring a whole host of star names including Terry Thomas (playing, as you might guess, a complete rotter), Roger Morely, Eric Sykes, Sarah Miles, Red Skelton, Benny Hill and James Fox, the cast hams it up something chronic and there's far too much slapstick. It has an endearing daftness about the whole thing though and that's just about enough to keep you watching, and there are some good moments later on in the film. There are a lot of similar movies but most of them involve cars - The Great Race, Monte Carlo or Bust, Genevieve etc - but this one has novelty value on its side for being about aeroplanes.

Not bad but could have been better with stricter editing. It also features (somewhat bafflingly for modern audiences) a musical interlude with a blank screen (the film is a little over 2 hours long, so an interlude would hardly seem necessary by modern standards), and an unintentionally (I think?!) duck (possibly goose) in flight - realistic it isn't, I can't make up my mind if it looked so awful by design or not. Most of the movie hinges on humour derived from cultural stereotypes; this only works to a limited extent. Still, if you like silly films this just might be something you'd enjoy. Much depends on Terry Thomas' roguish charm, so if you're a fan of his it helps.

CaptainD - Movie Reviews Blog

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