Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines (1965) – Ken Annakin


The comedic slapstick romp recommendations from Great Movies – 100 Years of Film for Le Vacances de Mounsieur Hulot continue with this enjoyable look at aviation in the grand old year of 1910.

An opening sequence with a journey through time features the comedic legend Red Skelton, and from there we join Richard Mays (James Fox) and his beloved Patricia Rawnsley (Sarah Miles). The two of them confer with Patricia’s father, Lord Rawnsley (Robert Morley) and breach the idea of Britannia may rule the sea, but she does not rule the air. Consequently Rawnsley comes up with the idea of having an aerial race from London to Paris, with a hefty cash prize, large enough to draw international attention and competitors.

Among them is the American, Orvil Newton (Stuart Whitman), the German officer, Goldfinger himself, Gert Frobe as Colonel Von Holstein, the French pilot Pierre Dubois (Jean-Pierre Cassel) who causes the colonel no small amount of grief, Count Emilio Ponticelli (Alberto Sordi) and his large family, and the devious Sir Percy Ware-Armitage (Terry Thomas) and his man-servant, Courtney (Eric Sykes).


Watching over them all, and the airfield, is another comedic legend, Benny Hill as Fire Chief Perkins.

There is rivalry, jokes, and a play for Patricia’s heart on the part of Orvil, all while the cast try to keep their  odd-looking planes running.

Vintage aircraft were built for the screen, and they look amazing, and incredibly fragile, it’s rather stunning to believe that men first went aloft in such tenuous creations.

There are tons of hilarious moments throughout the film, from broad, keystone cops type humor as firetrucks pursue planes around the airfield, as well as fun moments of dialogue and physical comedy. For such a large cast, every character seems to get their moment to shine, and a number of them fall prey to Sir Percy’s machinations.


Clocking in at two hours, don’t worry, there’s actually an intermission, this movie moves along at a pretty brisk pace, proving that not all comedies have to run at 90 minutes.

There are a number of fun moments in the film, gags with the plane, gags with the characters, the fact that both times Orvil meets Patricia, she literally loses her skirt…

I quite enjoyed this one, and found myself laughing aloud more times than I thought I would. I had heard of the film, long before I watched it, but it was just never anything that seemed to catch my interest, I was glad to be proven wrong. This one was a lot of fun.

While now, we can look at the film, and say that some of the characters are nothing more than stereotypes, it doesn’t detract from the film, and I personally enjoyed the French teasing the Germans, until it ends in a duel in an unusual location…

The remaining recommendations for Hulot are all films I know, and am looking very forward to rewatching. So far this book has been a nice mix of films I know, to films I should have seen a long time ago.

What did you think of this one?


One Comment Add yours

  1. NL_Greece says:

    That was a very funny movie! Thanks for the reminder!

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