Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965)

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965), directed by Ken Annakin.

...or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes.

This slapstick retro-adventure comedy was a laugh riot when new. A bit less so now, if still nostalgically entertaining. It seems leisurely paced by today's standards.

Much comedy of national characteristics: buffoonish Germans in spiked helmets, love-happy French who taunt the Germans, easy-going but studly American cowboys, Japanese who create their first airplane overnight just to enter the race, etc.

Terry-Thomas is always welcome as an oily villain, and we get Benny Hill and Red Skelton in small doses (just as well).

Many process shots and studio stunt-work, but they also have impressive full-size flying replicas. It makes you think: those few years when airplanes were first invented, you could build your own and be among the first to explore the empire of the air above the rural countryside. That must have been a blast.

The fictional air-race is supposed to be in 1910, 55 years before the film was made. We're now (2013) at 48 years since the film, one of those history time-warp calculations that make me queasy to contemplate.

Twilight Time Blu-ray with a rather good image. 2.20 aspect ratio. A commentary track by the director gives many production details.