Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: A big airplane race.

This is a wide open comedy in a similar vein as It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World dealing with a 1910 cross country plane race and involving a wide assortment of over-the-top characters.

This is a good film for family viewing and has enough pratfalls to elicit at least a chuckle or two from everyone. The aerial photography is impressive and most of it looks like the actors are actually flying the planes instead of just being propped up in front of a blue screen. Stuart Whitman makes for a solid lead and Gert Forbe is funny as a German Commander. However, it is Benny Hill that practically steals it as the besieged fire captain constantly rescuing the participants from their many accidents.

On the negative side the film seems too similar to all the other comical race movies from that era without offering anything new or original.  The characters are broadly sketched and become tiring after a while. It also takes too long for the race to get going and when it does it isn’t all that exciting, or gripping. The film also has a tendency to miss out on potentially interesting, or even inventive comical moments. One segment has a French pilot crashing into a convent and requiring the services of the nuns to help repair the plane. I thought this scenario could’ve been loaded with hilarious possibilities, but the film pursues none of them.

The non-discriminating viewer may consider this funny and amusing, but everything gets played-out by the standard formula of that era without offering anything that is memorable.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: June 16, 1965

Runtime: 2Hours 18Minutes

Rated G

Director: Ken Annakin

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

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