Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines

In 1910, flying long distances is still both an untested experience and a new craze. Both for the glory of Britain and for the prestige and profit of his newspaper, the Daily Post, Lord Rawnsley sponsors an air race from London to Paris. Veteran flying pioneers from all over the northern hemisphere - England, France, Germany, the USA, Italy, and Japan - come together, and a lot of competition breaks out even before the race; Germans and French are locked in a (humorous) duel of nerves and national prestige, and the pilots Mays of England and Newton of the US vie for the affections of Rawnsley's free-spirited daughter Patricia.

And when the race finally begins, it is laced with all sorts of hilarious accidents which throw most of the compeditors out of the field. Of 14 contestants, only four actually reach Paris - but who is the winner...?

Factual error: Terry-Thomas's plane gets stuck between the carriages of a Paris-bound train (in fact filmed on the single-line track between Bedford and Hitchin). Just before the train plus plane goes into a tunnel you can see the cooling towers of Bedford's Goldington Power Station (circa 1960) behind TT's head. (01:58:20)

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Sir Percy Ware-Armitage: And I've arranged for the Frenchman to be detained by a lovely young lady.
Courtney: Ho, ho, guvnor, I'll bet she's a bit of all right.
Sir Percy Ware-Armitage: You should know, Courtney, she's your daughter.
Courtney: But guvnor, she's an innocent young girl.
Sir Percy Ware-Armitage: Not is, Courtney, WAS.

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Trivia: The conflict between Oberst von Holstein and Dubois partly stems from the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), in which France was defeated and the German Empire formed.

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