Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines. Image shows left to right: Sir Percy Ware-Armitage (Terry-Thomas), Courtney (Eric Sykes). Credit: 20th Century Fox
Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines

Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines

  • 1965 film

Period comedy. Newspaper publisher Lord Rawnsley establishes a London-to-Paris flying challenge with a huge cash prize. Stars Stuart Whitman, Sarah Miles, James Fox, Alberto Sordi, Robert Morley and more.

Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines. Image shows left to right: Patricia Rawnsley (Sarah Miles), Richard Mays (James Fox), Lord Rawnsley (Robert Morley), Sir Percy Ware-Armitage (Terry-Thomas). Credit: 20th Century Fox

Key details

Stuart Whitman, Sarah Miles, James Fox, Alberto Sordi, Robert Morley, Gert Fröbe, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Irina Demick and more
Jack Davies and Ken Annakin
Ken Annakin
Stan Margulies and Jack Davies

London, 1910. Man has long dreamed of taking to the air alongside the birds, but with recent technological advancements it is - slowly - becoming possible for the first time. As inventors across the globe compete to develop reliable, safe flying machines for the purpose, air fever has gripped society.

Newspaper proprietor Lord Rawnsley is not quite so enthusiastic personally, but his daughter Patricia is highly enamoured of all things fast and adventurous, from motor cars to motor bikes, and he is certainly not oblivious to the enthusiasm and fascination of the wider public. Reasoning that Britain is already the globe's preeminent maritime superpower, he resolves that she should establish similar air dominance; and if he can sell a few more copies of the Daily Post at the same time, all the better!

Calling together the cream of British flight trailblazers alongside his business associates, therefore, he announces the creation of a London-to-Paris competition, inviting the best from around the world to come and compete in a race over land and sea.

Young and keen, military man Richard Mays is one such hobbyist constantly aiming to refine the possibilities of flight and spend as much time as possible in the air, and both he and Rawnsley are equally keen on his taking Patricia's hand in marriage. The cunning and highly competitive Sir Percy is another early airman, and between the two men Lord Rawnsley is confident that a British competitor will pick up the title.

Word of the challenge and its significant cash prize - some £10,000 - duly spreads across the globe, from the fields of France to the military training grounds of Germany, and the American Wild West to monks in Japanese temples.

One by one, therefore, a fascinating array of eccentric inventors and wannabe pilots begins descending upon an airfield a short distance outside the British capital, refining their machines and taking part in less formal test and trial events in the weeks ahead of the challenge itself taking place. All working in close quarters, rivalries and friendships begin to take hold - plus a romance or two - and there's plenty of dastardly plotting under way too!

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Additional details

UK certificate
132 minutes

20th Century Fox

Also known as
  • Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines, Or How I Flew From London To Paris In 25 Hours 11 Minutes
Camera set-up
Single camera

Website links

Broadcast details

Most recent repeats
  • Thursday 16th April 2020 at 3:05pm on BBC2
  • Tuesday 17th December 2019 at 3:10pm on BBC2
  • Monday 24th December 2018 at 9:25am on BBC2

Recording details

  • Pinewood Studios - Interiors
  • Windsor - Opening scene viewing Windsor Castle
  • Dover - Beach scenes
  • RAF Booker - Airfield location

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