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or How Flew from London to Paris in Hours Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines I (25 ) and Minutes (11 ) Movie Review

race richard rawnsley mays

1965 – Ken Annakin –

The first-ever international airplane race from London to Paris is the brainchild of a heroic English pilot, Richard Mays (James Fox), who wants to promote flying and flying machines and who is certain he can win. The financial backers are rounded up, the announcement is made, and contestants from countries all over the world converge on England to test their skill as aviators. After several scenes in which vintage-looking aircraft are maintained and taken for practice flights, the race is finally on. Of course, there is a villain. Sir Percy Ware-Armitage (Terry-Thomas) is determined to win the race himself and sets out to ambush the competition by tinkering with their airplanes before the race begins. Of course, there is a girl. Patricia Rawnsley (Sarah Miles) is the daughter of the race's financial supporter, Lord Rawnsley (Robert Morley), and the love interest of Richard Mays. Richard's toughest competition—not only for the race but also for the love of Patricia—comes from the American contestant, Orvil Newton (Stuart Whitman).

Much of the humor in Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines comes from the mildly mocking stereotypes presented through its characters—from the stuffy, stoic Englishman to the American cowboy to the amorous Frenchman. One German cannot seem to manage without his instruction booklet; a woman's fickle interest is found in anyone who will take her up in his airplane. The characters are what entertain here. Unfortunately, stereotypical as all these characters are, since no real interest is generated for them as people, the audience does not really care who wins the race.

Performances by familiar comedians such as Red Skelton, playing the Neanderthal Man in a short bit at the beginning, and Benny Hill as Fire Chief Perkins, provide some entertainment. Those who have a special interest in vintage flying machines or one of the film's other actors will probably be entertained as well. But for the rest, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines will move rather slowly and run about an hour too long, even though it is at times a pleasant and well-made film.

Cast: Stuart Whitman (Orvil Newton), Sarah Miles (Patricia Rawnsley), James Fox (Richard Mays), Alberto Sordi (Count Emilio Ponticelli), Robert Morley (Lord Rawnsley), Gert Frobe (Colonel Manfred von Holstein), Jean-Pierre Cassel (Pierre Dubois), Irina Demick (Brigitte/Ingrid/Marlene/Froncioise/Yvette/Betty), Eric Sykes (Courtney), Red Skelton (Neanderthal Man), Terry-Thomas (Sir Percy Ware-Armitage), Benny Hill (Fire Chief Perkins), Yujiro Ishihara (Yamamoto), Flora Robson (Mother Superior), Karl Michael Vogler (Captain Rumpelstoss), Sam Wanamaker (George Gruber), Eric Barker (French Postman), Fred Emney (Colonel), Gordon Jackson (McDougal), John Le Mesurier (French Painter), Zena Marshall (Countess Sophia Ponticelli), James Robertson Justice (Narrator) Screenwriter: Ken Annakin, Jack Davies Cinematographer: Christopher Challis Composer: Ron Goodwin Producer: Stan Margulies for Twentieth Century Fox Running Time: 138 minutes Format: VHS, LV Awards: Academy Awards 1965: Nominations: Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Box Office: $14M.

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