Released in June of 1965 TMMITFMOHIFFLTPI25H11M (whew!), from here on to be called TMM, was a road show release that runs 2 hours and 18 minutes. It had an intermission, not because of its length, but so patrons could try to finish reading through the title.
It had a cast that, in its day, was big. Really big. The three main characters – Stuart Whitman, Sarah Miles and James Fox – are all still alive. They played a pair of pilots and the love interest for both the guys to fight over. Literally and verbally.
The plot concerns a fictional 1910 air race, which is explained in the title. It is hosted by a London newspaper owner, played by great character actor Robert Morley. Miles plays his independent-minded daughter. He puts up a bunch of money and pilots from all over the world gather to earn honor, glory and riches beyond belief.
The contest brings to light all kinds of rivalry and fun. Gert Frobe (Goldfinger in Goldfinger, the best of the James Bond films) is the German military leader who ends up piloting when his pilot gets sick. Jean-Pierre Cassel (who went on to play the King of France and a wagon-lit conductor on the Orient Express) is the Frenchman more interested in fun, women and flying than winning. Irina Demick plays the girl he meets everywhere he goes, all from different countries, but looking alike to the French Romeo.
Stealing most of the film is the brilliant Terry Thomas as Sir Percy the cheater who will commit any dirty deed to win. British actor Eric Sykes played his man servant and co-conspirator Courtney. Eric died at age 89 this past 4th of July. Film and TV star Red Skelton appears at the beginning and end of the film in what would turn out to be his last theatrical appearance.
Ron Goodwin added a terrific score which reflected the multi-national character of the film and the thrill of the early days of aviation. His title song became his trademark. The film uses a fleet of planes recreated just for the movie. While the special effects leave a little to be desired, the film was shot using real props and matte paintings where needed.
Now available in a limited edition of 3,000 copies on BluRay, this film finally looks like it did on the big screen back when I first experienced it in 1965 about a week after I graduated from High School, ending my three years as part of the senior class.
TMM has lots of class. And lots of laughs. Get a copy before they are all gone. www.screenarchives.com
Released by Twilight Time. Rated 4.0 out of 4.0 reasons this film has The Right Stuff