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Few films there are ineed that I would be willing to pay a
to have on DVD, but this certainly is!
In my book it rates with Tati's best, and he's tops!
The idea of making a film about aircraft was not new, I guess, but to do it such manner is still unique! Who would make a film
about an air-race between London and Paris, and do it as a comedy, with almost perfect dialogue, details and acting, but the British?
A number of vintage aircraft (circa 1909) were repaired/constructed
and flown for the flight sequencies, from the minuscle Demoiselle (the replica too small to have a male pilot!) via big, boxkite-like Cody's, inspired by Farmans to the Antoinette, which was 100% original!
As in any slapstick film there are villains (Terry Thomas, and Eric Sykes), pompous Germans, elegant Italians, flirting Frenchmen and the honest guy, of course!
Liking both British humour and aircraft, plus the good acting, the clever and exciting cinematography, and the excellent directing from Mr Annikin I can't but smile!
I'm one of the biggest fans of old newsreels and I don't think there
are too many of us who haven't seen some of that ancient footage with
all those odd contraptions showing man's attempt to fly in the early
20th century. I guess it was only a matter of time before someone got
the bright idea to do a comedy from those attempts.
Some of them weren't all that funny, people did in fact get killed, a lot of them in trying to master the air. But by 1910 there were all kinds of airplanes and even some early helicopters and a lot are shown in Those Magnificent Men.
The plot centers about an international race from London to Paris sponsored by one of the English press lords played in true John Bull style by Robert Morley. He's got a spirited suffragette daughter in Sarah Miles and a most proper member of the King's Coldstream Guards in James Fox courting her.
But along comes another flier, an American cowboy, Stuart Whitman who becomes Fox's air and romantic rival. But the film's got more than that. It's got Italian hopeful Alberto Sordi who can impregnate his wife with a dirty look. It's got Frenchman Jean Pierre-Cassel who keeps running into Irina Demick every place he goes. It's even got another English contestant in Terry-Thomas who's busy trying to sabotage everyone else.
However my favorite is the German entry, Gert Frobe. Poor Frobe has to pinch hit for the original German flier who partied too hardy. But as he tries to prove as long as you follow the instruction book, the German Army can accomplish anything. Seeing him try to fly his airplane while reading the instruction book is my favorite memory of Those Magnificent Men.
That and that incredibly catchy title song. I defy anyone to watch this film and not come away humming that tune for weeks. It will embed itself in your subconscious forever.
Those Magnificent Men is good entertainment and a gentle tribute to those early air pioneers.
This was a fairly long but interesting story of an early 20th century
airplane race taking place between London and Paris. The actual race
only takes place for the last 45 minutes, and that's fun to watch. The
terrain also is nice to view.
Before that, you get profiles of the competitors of the race. You really get the typical stereotypes of movies: the French men woo all the women; the Germans are make to look too militaristic and stupid; the English are portrayed as very stiff upper-lipped and the Italians are all too emotional, etc.
Stuart Whitman and James Fox both battle for Sarah Miles' affections and Terry Thomas has some funny lines as a villain.
I loved the airplanes in this film - really cool "flying machines," as they are labeled here. They came in all sizes and shapes. In the very beginning of the movie, they show actual footage of early flight failures and they are familiar but still fascinating. Interspiced in the actual footage are closeups of Red Skelton playing the part of some of those unsuccessful fliers. Since he had no lines, Skelton reminded me of some of the great silent film comedians.
Centred around a London-to-Paris air race early in the 1900's, this is a
wonderful English comedy spoofing national characteristics! You know the
sort of thing, the expansive American hero, the fair-playing Englishman, the
great French lover, the emotional Italian count, the enigmatic Japanese, the
humourless pomp-loving German, and so on.
The casting is interesting, for this light-hearted movie's principal roles are filled by actors who are far more familiar playing the heavy: Stuart Whitman, Sarah Miles, James Fox, Jean-Pierre Cassel, and Gert Frobe. And make no mistake, they are superb at it!
Offending no-one of any age, this movie plays out against the back-drop of the air race, with a fantastic array of primitive aircraft. It is fun and full of life, tripping along easily and smoothly from one delightful absurdity to another. The English have made this movie, and while they have considerable fun at the expense of the Frenchman and the German, they cannot resist poking the bulk of the fun at themselves. They do so by augmenting the cast with the shifty Englishman (Terry-Thomas), the confidence man (Tony Hancock), and the foreigner-distrusting representative of the upper crust (Robert Morley).
This movie is a must see for anyone with any pretense to a sense of humour!
I think everyone has a few old movies stashed away in their brains that for some reason or another are a part of their lives. Our personal soundtrack if you will. This film is one of mine. I know I saw it at a drive-in when it came out but can't recall which one. My older brother still recalls this one fondly also. It was gut busting funny at the time but hasn't aged that well due to the general public's far more sophisticated mindset these days. But it's still funny. Anyone who is a fan of flying or the history of traditional European nationalistic rivalry will still howl at this clever and at times very sharp satire. We see some of the attitudes that would help fuel the violent world wars that would erupt soon after 1910. The vintage aircraft, some authentic, some not, are sure to excite aircraft fans. The footage of the genuine planes actually flying across the English countryside is genuinely MAGNIFICENT. Many running gags through the length of the movie. My favorite is the obvious one...the redhead. I caught this on our PBS station just last night and as always I was hooked again and had to watch till two in the morning. There's something about most English movies from the 60's that is just magical. Even the bad ones like "Casino Royale" are still fascinating to watch. Great international casts, clever scripts, funny situations, sight gags...whole packages. Fun Movies, plain and simple. "Those Magnificent Men..." isn't a great film or even a great comedy. But it's still a genuine Fun Movie and well worth at least a rental fee. Now that I've seen it again for the zillonth time my brother and I will be talking about it and laughing out butts off the next time I see him. For us it's one of those kind of movies.
"Those Magnificent Men" probably looked on story boards like merely a colorful, often humorous and very enactable satire of an era, of its nations and of the early days of manned flight. Its plot line involved an international air race, from England to Paris, for whose prizes competitors in home-made aircraft from all over the world would journey to compete. The racers included Stuart Whitman aided by his brother Sam Wanamaker (Wilbur and Orville) from the U.S., James Fox of England, Albert Sordi from Italy, Gert Frobe and his team from Germany, Jean-Pierre Cassell and his ebullient hard-drinking group from France, plus a Scotsman and his dog, the villainous Sir Percy and his henchman, Terry-Thomas and Eric Sykes, a Japanese entrant and many others. Others in the large cast of the ensuing film also included Robert Morely as the wealthy patrician organizer of the race, a rather weak Sarah Miles as his daughter, beautiful Irina Demick who keeps turning up in every locale (in a new persona) and many more. But what the film's makers forgot was that the bravery and beauty of these canvas-winged and wooden primitive aircraft taking off and actually achieving flight would upstage even the often-hilarious comedy of the well-written proceedings. Using Red Skelton as "every man who has ever dreamed of flight", the producers prepared for the race, staged the race, and awarded the prizes--the climax being the arrival of the racers and what happened near the finish line, plus a justly happy ending. The film was written by Ken Annakin with Jack Davies, and Annakin directed it very competently also. Ron Goodwin's music and title song are well-remembered treats too. Others in the large, attractive cast include narrator James Robertson Justice, Gordon Jackson, Zena Marshall, Karl Michael Vogler, Yujiro Ishihara, Benny Hill, Flora Robson and Jeremy Lloyd. The film's pace is beautifully varied and consistently-maintained; the action includes acts of sabotage by the villains, practice flights gone wrong, low-comedy, a duel between the dour Frobe and devil-may-care Cassell conducted in hot air balloons, national humor at the expense of all concerned and incidents before and during the race. This is a very well-acted film; but the fine technical achievements and subordinate arts here had to take a back seat to the flight of the many wonderful "early birds", who outshone even the amusing national types who flew them. A much-imitated and superior comedy classic of its sort.
You'll never forget the silly, marching band styled theme song to this 1965 comedy. Made during a period of big budgeted, epic, widescreen comedies with a big cast. Stuart Whitman is charming as the American entry into a multi-national air race between London and Paris in 1910. Sarah Miles, Terry-Thomas, Gert Forde, Benny Hill and James Fox lend fine support. Lots of well arranged, well thought out slapstick as well as low key, charcater driven comedy (James Fox and Whitman are great as romantic rivals forced to share the same breathing space.) At 2 hours 18 minutes, alot of fun.
One of the numerous comedy epics of the 1960s (It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World,
and Monte Carlo or Bust being others), this movie is very funny and
memorably so. The tale of several flyers from different nationalities
(British, America, French, Italian, German, etc.) piloting their planes
across the Channel from London to Paris - and the vintage model planes are
fabulous - takes the form of a number of different interwoven stories
leading up to the race in the last part of the movie.
The cast includes Terry-Thomas as Sir Percy, the cheating upper-class Englishman; James Fox as the irritating fop Richard; Stuart Whitman as Orvil the American nice guy; Jean-Pierre Cassell as the randy Frenchman; and Gert Frobe as the blustering German officer. Cameos a-plenty, from Benny Hill, Tony Hancock, William Rushton, Eric Sykes, Fred Emney, and so on. Irina Demick (in multiple roles), and Sarah Miles play what love interest the film has.
Highly recommended if you fancy a laugh. And a fantastic and memorable theme song as well.
Fox played this movie today and I watched it. Preceding the movie was a
collection of scary, gory clips that I couldn't show my kids. So when
I channel-flipped back to it I was doubly shocked at how enjoyable this
film was. This is one of many films that America is incapable of
producing due to it's optimism, emphasis on living and view of the
future. It is just a fun movie so perhaps I shouldn't make it sound so
serious. There are plenty of disasters but all seem done in fun and
humor. The race is started by a bunch of people who [by and large] want
to win at any cost. In the end... the moral of the story seems to be
that those who live with honor win in the end. It's a sort of reminder
about points like this. It is refreshing to see a film like this once
in awhile. It is long... but make sure and watch at least half of it.
Especially if you have kids. Oh- it is also somewhat funny. I would say
that it's a comedy but contains neither slapstick nor 'sophisticated'
humor. Little things such as seeing the dog flying shotgun in the back
seat of an old plane with the sign saying something like 'I am the
first dog ever to fly in an airplane' or so are typical of the silly
If you've seen + liked films such as 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' or 'It's a Mad Mad Mad World' then know this film is different but you may like it.
An interesting collection of early aircraft in a lighthearted comedy.
Set in the early 1900s, an "international" air race, from England to
France, and of course across the English Channel, was proposed,
ostensibly to advance aviation. Naturally, the film presents
cultural/national stereotypes, but not maliciously.
Spoilers in the following.
One stereotype is the German team leader, played be Gert Frobe, who is so systematized that when his pilot is sick, feels that simply following the instruction books would enable him to fly the German entry. And it works, for a while. (Aside: taking off and guiding such ragwings could possibly work, but textbooks or no, the landings probably would be worth watching on something like America's Funniest Home Videos.) His antics, as his aircraft gets into trouble, thumbing frantically through his manuals, is classic.
The very end of the film (not counting the Red Skelton epilogue)is amusing. When it was filmed, the contrast of the early aircraft with modern jets was rather neat, but watching those antique jets now is rather quaint.
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