THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES 6x600ft 132 minutes colour/sound Available from Derann

1910: a sponsored London - Paris air race, with a prize of 10.000 brings daring competitors from Germany, France, USA, Japan, Italy, and the UK. The sponsor, Lord Rawnsley (Robert Morley), makes it plain (no pun intended) that he expects his future son-in-law, Guard's officer Richard Mayes (James Fox) to win. But there is more than just competition from the other pilots and their various cantankerous aircraft for Richard to contend with, an American Orvil Newton (Stuart Whitman) is also after his girl (Sarah Miles) - in this race it seems anything goes.... except some of the flying machines.

Filmed in the magnificence of TODD-AO accompanied by the well - known main theme by Ron Goodwin, this release is virtually a catalogue of British comic stars: Eric Sykes (Courtney), Terry Thomas (Sir Percy Ware-Armitage), Benny Hill (Perkins, the Fire Chief), Tony Hancock (Harry Popperwell), Norman Rossington (Asst. Fire Chief), Jerermy Lloyd (Parsons R.N.), Fred Emney (Old Colonel), John Le Mesurier (French painter), William Rushton (Gasgoyne Tremayne), Eric Barker (French Postman), Gerald Campion (Second Fireman), and Graham Stark (Third Fireman).

Hancock as Popperwell, designer of rather dubious machines that either fly backwards or fail altogether does not fit terribly comfortably into the proceedings, but then he did not do very well in any of his big-screen appearances. In contrast smoothie Terry Thomas as the thoroughly nasty Sir Percy and Eric Sykes as his devious, blundering sidekick, make a perfect comedy pair sabotaging various competitors aircraft. But the Brits don't have it all their own way. Gert Frobe as Germany's finest, Col Von Holstein, flying by instruction book, supplies many comic moments even if he, and all the non-UK participants, with the exception of the American, are almost without exception, stereotype funny-foreigner types. Also in the cast are Flora Robson, Sam Wanamaker, Red Skelton, Maurice Denham and Eric Pohlmann.

Many of the above stars are no longer with us so this release, apart from any other consideration, might appeal to some for just that reason. Stars by the dozen there might be, but the real stars, at least as far as I'm concerned, are the various stringbag aircraft and the fine air-to-air filming in Todd-AO.

The print of Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines is simply magnificent. It must rank as one of the best available on 8---A b/w academy ratio shot of an Italian flyer, that widens out to full-screen (following the opening 'birdman sequence) is quite simply stunning. As sharp as a tack right across the picture and without none of the slight colour fringing that can be seen on some 'Scope releases. A print that one would be pleased of on 16mm, let alone Super 8. Buck Movie Picture Lab have done a extraordinary job - our review copy, with just a couple of teeny- weeny blemishes (which may have occurred after printing) is just about the most perfect print I have ever seen on 8--- The colour grading would put some current cinema releases to shame. The scenes of the aircraft set against the setting sun are quite simply stunning. An absolute beauty of a print with good stereo sound to match. It comes complete with a long interval caption and music. The following reel then has over five and a half minutes of play-in music over black film. Open up your 'tabs' just before the chorus comes to an end and fade the house lights for that perfect bit of showmanship that works so well with FILM. Very highly recommended.

Released to the cinemas in 1965

Print A* Sound A*/A Keith Wilton