Review: ‘Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines – Or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 Hours 11 Minutes’

As fanciful and nostalgic a piece of clever picture-making as has hit the screen in recent years, this backward look into the pioneer days of aviation, when most planes were built with spit and bailing wire, is a warming entertainment experience.

As fanciful and nostalgic a piece of clever picture-making as has hit the screen in recent years, this backward look into the pioneer days of aviation, when most planes were built with spit and bailing wire, is a warming entertainment experience.

A newspaper circulation gimmick serves nicely as the story premise, with a London newspaper publisher offering a £10,000 prize to winner of an event which will focus worldwide attention on the fledgling sport of flying – circa 1910 – subsequently attracting a flock of international contestants.

While there is naturally a plotline, and a nice romance, the planes themselves, a startling collection of uniquely-designed oddities, which actually fly, probably merit the most attention.

Top characters are played by Stuart Whitman, as an American entrant; James Fox, an English flier who interests publisher Robert Morley in the race to promote aviation; Sarah Miles, publisher’s daughter understood to be the intended of Fox (arrangement with father) but beloved by Whitman. Terry-Thomas is a dastardly English lord not above the most abject skullduggery to win the race. Alberto Sordi as an Italian count with a worrying wife and immense family, Gert Frobe a German cavalry officer intent upon bringing glory to the Fatherland, Jean-Pierre Cassel, a whimsical Frenchman, are the chief Continental contestants.

[Original roadshow version of the pic featured a musical overture.]

1965: Nomination: Best Story & Screenplay

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines - Or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 Hours 11 Minutes

UK

Production

20th Century-Fox. Director Ken Annakin; Producer Stan Margulies; Screenplay Jack Davies, Ken Annakin; Camera Christopher Challis; Editor Gordon Stone; Music Ron Goodwin; Art Director Tom Morahan

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1965. Running time: 131 MIN.

With

Stuart Whitman Sarah Miles James Fox Alberto Sordi Robert Morley Gert Frobe
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