Blu-ray Review Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Jul 9, 2012.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    After the tremendous success of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, farcical comedy epics became the rage for a time. In fact, two studios – Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox – presented their own epic farces in 1965: Blake Edwards’ The Great Race and Ken Annakin’s Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. Much to the surprise of Hollywood, it was the latter film that garnered the greatest critical acclaim and a vast majority of the substantial box-office. Seen in retrospect, both films are tremendous fun and have stood the test of time. With its international cast of characters and a wonderful mix of droll wit and outright slapstick, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines plays now as freshly as it did at the time of its premiere.



    Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (Blu-ray)
    Directed by Ken Annakin

    Studio: Twilight Time (Fox)
    Year: 1965
    Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1   1080p   AVC codec
    Running Time: 138 minutes
    Rating: G
    Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 English
    Subtitles:  SDH

    Region: 0
    MSRP: $ 29.95


    Release Date: July 10, 2012

    Review Date: July 9, 2012




    The Film

    4/5


    Wishing England to rule the skies as well as the seas, British publishing entrepreneur Lord Rawnsley (Robert Morley) sponsors an airplane race from London to Paris between the greatest aviators in the world in 1910. With his daughter’s (Sarah Miles) intended Richard Mays (James Fox) representing England, Rawnsley receives bids from French pilot Pierre Dubois (Jean-Pierre Cassel), American barnstormer Orvil Newton (Stuart Whitman), Italy’s accident-prone Count Emilio Ponticelli (Alberto Sordi), Germany’s autocratic Colonel Manfred Von Holstein (Gert Frobe), Japanese flying ace Yamamoto (Yujiro Ishihara), and the dastardly Sir Percy Ware-Armitage (Terry-Thomas), among others. While the pilots try out their machines and get the lay of the land they’ll be flying, Newton begins to fall for Lord Rawnsley’s daughter and makes him even angrier when he takes her up in his plane for a spin around the airfield. But winning the contest is foremost in everyone’s mind, and Sir Percy and his henchman/valet Courtney (Eric Sykes) are working overtime to sabotage as many planes and as many pilots as they can.


    Director Ken Annakin and his co-writer Jack Davies have set up several running gags in the movie which give the audience a continuous series of moments to anticipate. Sir Percy’s sabotages, of course, are the most obvious, but the French play a series of jokes on the humorless, martinet Germans (one entire sequence set on the beaches at Dover seems there mainly to spring another big trick on Colonel Von Holstein), a series of women (all played by actress Irina Demick) keep bumping into the female-obsessed Pierre Dubois throughout the movie, and klutzy pilot Count Ponticelli keeps wrecking planes and being given new, more outrageously designed ones as replacements. The love triangle between Orvil, Patricia, and Richard was pushed into the forefront by Fox studio chief Darryl Zanuck, but it’s fairly tiresome and in the finished film not really developed enough to warrant the time spent on it at the expense of more slapstick antics. The movie technicians have done real magic in making us believe these slapdash planes have the makings of racing craft (and all before the CGI era making what we see even more remarkable), and the flying scenes, either the real ones or the mock-ups done against blue screen, are fascinating to behold. Annakin offers up some truly lyrical scenes with the crafts in the air after taking off at the beginning of the race (which doesn't happen until 100 minutes have passed), and the stunt work involved in the many crashes and mishaps is laudatory to say the least.


    Terry-Thomas and Eric Sykes have a wonderful master-servant rapport throughout the picture that makes their every appearance welcome (Sykes is especially good possibly because he was the lesser known of the two in America at the time of the film’s release; Thomas had played similar charlatans in a slew of films). Stuart Whitman brings a down home simplicity to his western aviator and exudes a very warm presence. Robert Morley does his usual blustery Britisher to good effect, and Sarah Miles plays the comedy with assurance (including two situations where her skirt gets pulled off) and a good sense of fun. Gert Frobe gets a lot of mileage out of his one-note stereotypical German making him one of the film’s greatest assets. Jean-Pierre Cassel plays the same amorous Frenchman he essayed in many movies during this period. Red Skeleton begins and ends the movie in a series of slapstick stunts blending new footage with old newsreels of early attempts at aviation, and look quickly to see Benny Hill and Flora Robson make fleeting appearances (she’s only in one scene as a nun; Hill at least gets a series of running gags as the head of the field’s fire brigade).



    Video Quality

    5/5


    The film’s theatrical 2.20:1 Todd-AO aspect ratio is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Despite its age, the picture is a joy to behold with expert sharpness, and color so rich and deep that it continually impresses and never comes close to bleeding reds or overemphatic greens or blues. Fleshtones are natural throughout, and everything about the transfer is first-rate. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.



    Audio Quality

    4.5/5


    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 sound mix offers a sophisticated sound design that may surprise some viewers with its power. Though much more is done with Ron Goodwin’s whimsical and richly satisfying background score across the front three channels than with the rear soundstage, there is some use of the rears for music and also for ambient sounds on occasion. Dialogue is beautifully represented and has been placed in the center channel.



    Special Features

    3/5


    The audio commentary is provided by director Ken Annakin. Though he doesn’t talk quite continually, he certainly fills most of the running time with lots of interesting memories and opinions about the film and its making. Fans who haven’t heard this commentary before will certainly want to give it a listen.


    Ron Goodwin’s precocious music score is offered in an isolated track and is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo.


    The film’s teaser trailer runs 1 minute while the theatrical trailer runs 3 minutes. Two TV spot ads run ¼-minute and 1 minute respectively.


    The enclosed six-page booklet contains a rich selection of stills, the film’s poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s lovely rhapsody on the film’s pleasures and treasures.



    In Conclusion

    4/5 (not an average)


    Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines is serious fun for all concerned. The near reference video and audio will likely thrill the viewer, and the bonuses here are all worthwhile. Only 3,000 copies of this marvelous comedy classic are available, and those interested in experiencing this hilarious romp should hop to www.screenarchives.com to see if copies are still available. They're also available via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies .



    Matt Hough

    Charlotte, NC

     
  2. Virgoan

    Virgoan Second Unit

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    I'll agree wholeheartedly, and then some. It was a joy to behold. I saw this a few times in its first release, and I don't remember it looking this good. Probably, it was because the print I saw was CinemaScope vs. 65mm.
    I found myself deeply engrossed in all aspects of the film: , storyline, performances, music, production design, costumes, sets and all the planes and the wonderful editing. What a joyous movie wallow this one is!
     
  3. JoHud

    JoHud Producer

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    Watched this last week and it was loads of fun. Picture quality was excellent too. Certainly worth the extra cost.
     
  4. lukejosephchung

    lukejosephchung Screenwriter

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    Just received my copy of this from SAE/TT today in the mail...I can't wait to check this out for myself tonight at home on my 56" Samsung DLP 1080P rear projector. Thanks for the great review, Matt!!!
     
  5. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    I have previewed mine and it's just beautiful. I'm thinking tomorrow night for a proper viewing.
     
  6. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    Shame it's a special order only. I'll have to pass.
     
  7. Mark Oates

    Mark Oates Supporting Actor

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    Limited Edition? A kick in the teeth for fans, frankly :(
     
  8. trajan

    trajan Screenwriter

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    I would love to see TODD-AO transfers of HELLO DOLLY---DOCTOR DOLITTLE and AGONY AND ECSTASY.
     
  9. moviepas

    moviepas Second Unit

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    Dr Doolittle is on Blu Ray from, Germany but I can't say what the transfer is from. Maybe someone else in this forum has further details.

    I would hope TT gets a go at Hello Dolly sometime soon. Way to go Jose!!!
     
  10. Adam Gregorich

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    Thanks for the review Matt. Looking forward for this one to arrive!


    Faced with the choice of no release vs limited release, I'll take the limited release every time!
     
  11. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    My copy arrived today and it's too late to watch it.
    I'll wait till next weekend and reserve some quality
    time to give it a first look (since I have never seen this
    film before).
    Good to hear the transfer looks and sounds terrific.
     
  12. David Norman

    David Norman Producer
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    Pretty much the reviews call it mediocre at best. Low bitrate on BD25 with very little effort to clean up the dirt and grime of whatever source they were using. Certainly far less
    qualtiy than a 65mm film should provide.
    On the downside from the mouth of Mr Kimmel
     
  13. David_B_K

    David_B_K Advanced Member

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    Heck, back in the laserdisc days, $29.95 was the minimum price one could expect to pay for anything. For a reference quality Blu-ray, it's a steal.
     
  14. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    Watched the title last night and concur that the picture and sound are excellent. One of my all time favorites and remember seeing it on the screen many times in my early youth. I went through audio taping the ABC two part showing, buying the two tape VHS release at an expensive price, eagerly and gently putting the Widescreen laserdisc in and going through all those stills, still have the laser, then enjoying the DVD. Now I have something that I think marks the last time I buy this title.

    Never knew who Sarah Miles was until I saw her in this film in late 65, but I certainly was in the front row for RYAN'S DAUGHTER and then I was hooked.
     
  15. Raul Marquez

    Raul Marquez Supporting Actor
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    Just ordered my copy. I have very fond memories of this film when I used to run it in our school auditorium in 16mm (I was the AudioVisual club president and projectionist) . At the time you could rent films in 16mm (the film came in (usually) 3 reels) from the various film distributors for around $50. We had movie nights in our high school and we charged admission of $1.00 per person to save money for our senior year activities....
    Can't wait to get it!
    Raul
     
  16. Richard Gallagher

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    I just ordered my copy. I have the laserdisc but this will be a significant upgrade.
     
  17. Simon Lewis

    Simon Lewis Stunt Coordinator

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    More money than I would normally like to pay ($30 + $7 postage + approx $20 import and customs duties), but this is one of my favourite films and the DVD is poor, so I've just got to have it. Just ordered my copy. There is no chance of this being released on blu in the UK.
     
  18. iDarren

    iDarren Stunt Coordinator

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    I have heard a few complaints that the image is a little to dark and detail is lost in some scenes. Pity Sony did not give TT the "making off" feature and the supposedly huge stills gallery from their old DVD.
     
  19. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Fox, not Sony, but I certainly didn't find the image too dark at any time.
     
  20. Virgoan

    Virgoan Second Unit

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    I read a couple of comments at Blu-ray.com about the "dark" sections of the film. I can only say they DO NOT EXIST on my Blu ray copy. Never at any time in any frame of this Blu-ray disc did the image darken or lose detail. NEVER.
    About this being a "limited edition": The Twilight Time program -- why they exist, what they do, and why they price their discs the way they do -- is, by now, a matter of public record. They are issuing titles the studios, themselves, are not willing to risk issuing because they believe the returns are not likely to be worth their while. Twilight Time is licensing these titles, and they're not "cheap". There is no guarantee that what they issue will sell sufficiently to recoup costs on any given title. It's just the way it is. Nobody else is licensing or issuing these titles. Not at the present, at any rate.
     

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