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Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines

Where to Watch Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines

G
1965

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines is a captivating 1965 British comedy film that showcases the early era of aviation and pays homage to the intrepid pioneers of flight. Notable for its all-star cast, the film features Stuart Whitman, Sarah Miles, and James Fox in leading roles along with an ensemble group of seasoned actors from more than ten countries. Directed and co-written by Ken Annakin, this movie packs a punch of humor, adventure, and romance, blending them seamlessly with high-flying action and period-accurate details.

The events of the movie are set in 1910, only a few years after the first powered flight by the Wright brothers. The means of air travel are still predominantly experimental and open to the daring individuals with a pioneering spirit. The movie tells the tale of a fictional international air race from London to Paris, envisaged by a newspaper magnate, Lord Rawnsley (Robert Morley). The enthusiastic Rawnsley sees this race as an opportunity to prove the superiority of British aeronautics, although the race soon draws international entrants.

Stuart Whitman portrays the role of the brash American pilot, Orville Newton, while British aristocrat Richard Mays is played by James Fox. Rounding out the international flock of aviators are stubborn German Colonel Manfred von Holstein (Gert Fröbe), amorous Frenchman Pierre Dubois (Jean-Pierre Cassel), courageous Italian Count Emilio Ponticelli (Alberto Sordi), among others, all demonstrating a broad stereotype of their respective nations. Sarah Miles stars as Patricia Rawnsley, Lord Rawnsley's spirited daughter, who finds herself split between her affections for Mays and the charismatic American Newton.

Furnished with a palette of period charisma, the film does an excellent job at recreating the scenery of the time, but it is really the humor and engaging character antics that take center stage in the movie. The budding rivalry, camaraderie, and even sabotage among the aviators provide ample comic relief. The director equally splits the storyline between the drama on the ground and the thrilling aerial sequences in the sky, creating a nice balance of humor and action.

The movie's aerial scenes are a sheer spectacle. Without the help of modern day CGI, these sequences involved real aircraft or replicas, which increase the authenticity and cinematic flair of the movie. They showcase a range of early aircraft designs in all their odd glory, from box kites with engines to more recognizable biplanes. These magnificent machines appear as characters all their own, just as quirky and unpredictable as the men who pilot them.

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines explores elements of romantic comedy, too. Patricia Rawnsley's conflicting feelings for Newton and Mays add a subplot of romance to the adventurous narrative. It brings a sprinkling of softer emotions in the otherwise machine-dominated scenario, making the characters more endearing to the audience.

A nice touch is the inclusion of Red Skelton as a regular character who pops up in a couple of "silent" slapstick routines to introduce the pre-World War I culture. Coupled with the catchy theme song by Ron Goodwin, these additional elements add to the film's charm.

Furthermore, in contrast to many films of the period, this one takes a less serious view of nationalism and more sportsmanlike attitude. It carries the message of unity, as the occasion becomes a celestial carnival bringing people together from different nations.

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, while surely a period comedy, it also serves as a loving tribute to the golden age of aviation. It culturally bridges a gap in history that is rarely represented in feature films, bringing laughter and adventure to audiences of all ages.

In summary, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines is more than just a comedy film about an air race. It's also a comedic history lesson, a light romance, an adventure flick, and homage to the daring men and magnificent machines that dared to conquer the skies. With its unique charm and interesting narrative, it is a timeless movie gem that transcends generations, making it a must-see film for any aviation enthusiast and vintage-comedy fan.

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines is a Comedy movie released in 1965. It has a runtime of 138 minutes. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.0..

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7.0/10
Director
Ken Annakin
Stars
Stuart Whitman, Sarah Miles, Terry-Thomas, Robert Morley, James Fox
Genres
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