Hot on the heels of The Great Race, Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines was a bit of silliness and fun for 20th Century Fox. The Monty Python-styled opening credits set the tone for this British humor film, also known as How I Flew From London To Paris in 25 Hours and 11 Minutes. If the film suffers at all, it is the length. At almost 2 1/2 hours, it takes quite a while to get to the race. It’s almost 2 hours before the meat of the film begins. While there are many clever and memorable…scenes, mostly involving a certain sewer farm, the joke gets stale and begins to wear thin. The highlight of the film is of course the vintage planes built with the same materials as the originals they were modeled from.
A Dolby Digital 5.0 track is found on this release. The mix is certainly not overly aggressive, but seems to fill out nicely when called for. Dialogue is usually clear and centered. The ethnic sound cues come through in surprising brilliance.
There is also a very entertaining commentary track with director Ken Annakin.
This film is presented in a rather curious aspect ratio of 2.20:1. I guess this might have been the original release format, but sources are not in agreement. Colors are vibrant for a film of this age. Yellows shine through particularly on the vintage auto and later a train. Darks exhibit a fair amount of grain and are not considerably deep. This hurts the film only slightly as there are not many dark moments at all. There are few specks or artifacts to mar the picture.
The only extra of note (other then the aforementioned audio commentary) is a 15 minute “Conversation With Ken Annakin”. In the interview he talks mostly about his long fascination with the early planes and his efforts to reproduce them for the film. A gallery and trailer round out the disc.
I was too young to catch this film in 1965 so cannot accurately compare the release with the original. It is apparent the film was well preserved. You’re not likely to see the film in any better presentation. I’ve heard complaints about the ethnic stereotypes, but it’s all in very good-natured fun. So sit back and journey back to a time when “People everywhere were agog at those magnificent men in their flying machines”
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Conversation With Ken Annakin