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Those Fantastic Flying Fools (1967)

Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon (original title)
Not Rated | | Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy | 26 July 1967 (USA)
In Victorian England, an American showman uses a wealthy Frenchman's finances to build a German explosives expert's giant cannon designed to fire a people-filled projectile to the Moon but spies and saboteurs endanger the project.

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(original story) (as Peter Welbeck), (inspired by the writings of) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Phineas T. Barnum
Jimmy Clitheroe ... General Tom Thumb
... Captain Sir Harry Washington Smythe
... Grundle
... Professor von Bulow (as Gert Frobe)
... Sir Charles Dillworthy
... The Duke of Barset
... Gaylord
... Madelaine
... Henri (as Edward De Souza)
... Angelica
... Electra
... Anna (as Renata Holt)
Joachim Teege ... Bulgeroff
... Warrant Officer
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Storyline

Phineas T Barnum and friends finance the first flight to the moon but find the task a little above them. They attempt to blast their rocket into orbit from a massive gun barrel built into the side of a Welsh mountain, but money troubles, spies and saboteurs ensure that the plan is doomed before it starts. Written by Rhino <rhino@blueyonder.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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The most fabulous entertainment event of the year!


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

26 July 1967 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Those Fantastic Flying Fools  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Burl Ives replaced Bing Crosby. See more »

Quotes

The Duke of Barset: A common device for swindling! In my day you'd be led to a room with a gun on the table. The door would be closed. A shot would ring out. A woman would scream.
Captain Sir Harry Washington Smythe: I say, I did so like the part about the woman screaming!
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Crazy Credits

Closing credits: and Queen Victoria JOAN STERNDALE BENNETT God Bless her ! See more »

Soundtracks

We Must Always Trust the Stranger
Music and Lyrics by Ron Goodwin
Performed by Mike Clifford (uncredited)
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User Reviews

 
Confused, rambling and silly, but funny at times
1 March 2014 | by See all my reviews

Here is a 1967 British movie that is unsure whether it wants to be a straightforward 1890s Jules Verne fantasy, a 1960s farce or a romantic comedy. It uses the Jules Verne story as a reflection of the 1960s anxiety about the space race and the decline of Empire.

"Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" and "Time Machine" are great 1960s films that remain watchable classics today. This one doesn't fall into that category at all.

We see from the start that this is not just a send-up of Victorian science and engineering, but a parody of Victorian society in general. In the turbulent 1960s, the British Empire was in its death throes, and traditional British values and mannerisms were seen as fair game by movie makers.

Some of the great lines: "By Jove, what a corker", "You're a cad and a bounder", "It's because of the colonies!" "Oh Grundle, what beastly hard luck" and "By George, this is splendid" (said by Burl Ives, no less). These lines were all delivered with great relish.

However, the loving detail paid to these Victorian trappings adds a poignant air to it all. In the various elaborate scenes, they went to a lot of trouble to depict many different aspects of this British world in the 1890s. A British club, a Welsh village home, a picnic spread, local parades, and so on. The filmmakers seem to be saying, "Surely, it was a good thing while it lasted, even though we laugh at it now".

In addition to the British self-mockery, foreigners are treated with disdain. The Americans are hucksters and pretty-boy astronauts. The French are flighty and unfaithful (but look good). The Russian is an inept spy lurking in the bushes who tries to ruin everything. The German is a mad scientist. All this is pure 1960s.

Miscast Burl Ives isn't convincing as a fraudster; he plays himself: portly, amiable and handsome. Troy Donohue (at this point well into his personal and professional decline) delivers his lines with earnest woodenness. He wasn't gay, but it's hard not to snicker when Madeline cries out, "I love you, Gaylord…I love you, Henri". At points like this, the film becomes a "Carry On" farce.

British comedians Terry-Thomas and Lionel Jeffries were an amusing pair. Jeffries in particular -- playing a bitter, eccentric engineer -- gets to sink his teeth into some juicy lines. By the second half they had become the villains, and played it to the hilt.

It is somewhat of a rambling, disjointed movie that revolves around set-piece scenes rather than a coherent plot. There are quite a few scenes that add nothing to plot development. We spend a full five minutes, for example, watching a nervous 19th century British artillery crew prepare to fire a dangerous cannon. (Explosions gone wrong are an important theme in the movie.) Another five minutes was devoted to a chase scene involving a Frenchwoman on a penny farthing bicycle. (The filmmakers had a genuine "gas carriage" as a prop, so they made full use of it.)

"Rocket to the Moon" is a silly movie that has not stood the test of time. However, it is witty and fun at times. If you like this sort of thing, you might enjoy this one.


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