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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science > Space > Exploration > Documentary > Comedy > Race > Cars > Airplanes > Large Frame Format > Mars In 3D: Images From The Viking Mission (1978/NASA/AIX Blu-ray 3D w/2D)/Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines (or How I Flew To Paris In 25 Hours and 11 Minutes) (1965/Fox/Twilight Time Bl

Mars In 3D: Images From The Viking Mission (1978/NASA/AIX Blu-ray 3D w/2D)/Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines (or How I Flew To Paris In 25 Hours and 11 Minutes) (1965/Fox/Twilight Time Blu-ray)

 

3D Picture: B-/X     2D Picture: B     Sound: B-     Extras: C+/B-     Films: B/B-

 

 

PLEASE NOTE:  The Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines Blu-ray is limited to 3,000 copies and is available exclusively at the Screen Archives website which can be reached at the link at the end of this review.

 

 

Now to pair up two special Blu-ray releases you might miss and deserve as much publicity as possible.

 

 

First we have Mars In 3D (1978), the best Blu-ray on the red planet we have seen to date.  The difference is that this is actual film footage shot on the planet in real 3D and has circulated for years as a stereophonic 3D film, plus had previous red/green paper 3D glasses presentation on VHS and an even better 12” LaserDisc many decades ago.  Having actually seen this on film in 3D, I can say it is a fun short film (about 32 minutes) and a first of its kind.

 

This is a new restored reissue with enhanced sound and is the best I have seen it in both 3D and 2D on home video of any kind, but more on the technical side later.  These come from the Viking probe that landed on the planet and was a groundbreaking event when the probe landed and these images were taken.  This includes watching the probe pick up soil samples.  This is also the first classic 3D film of any kind prior to our new era of digital 3D finally making it to the Blu-ray 3D format, putting it ahead of the announced Creature From The Black Lagoon and Hitchcock’s Dial ‘M’ For Murder.  This kind of classic material should have been available when the format debuted, but here it is now.

 

Extras include a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and THX Media Director enhanced.

 

 

Then we have a special limited edition release.  Twilight Time is now issuing a few key motion pictures on Blu-ray each month, including some that many might expect would merit a wide release.  Either way, they are doing a great job and Ken Annakin’s Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines (1965) is a huge epic comedy hit of the time that is one of those “wow, it’s a limited edition?” releases.  Not only was it influential and imitated, it was shot in the 70mm film Todd AO format making it the first large frame format film of any kind to arrive on Blu-ray in only limited numbers.

 

Part of a cycle of films celebrating machines, travel and technology, often with the British involved, this could be considered the peak of the cycle critically and commercially as a bunch of people (for money and pride) go for a 10,000-pound prize (that would be more like a million adjusted for inflation versus how much that was worth versus about 100 years ago when the film is set) from London-to-Paris.

 

The cast gets wild for the prize including finely tuned performances by Sarah Miles, Red Skelton, Benny Hill, Gert “Goldfinger” Frobe, James Fox, Robert Morley, Stuart Whitman, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Irina Demick, Sam Wanamaker, Flora Robinson, Karl Michael Volger, Maurice Denham, Gordon Jackson, Jeremy Lloyd, Eric Pohlmann, an uncredited Nicholas Smith and Terry-Thomas.  The film even starts with a now-clichéd look at early attempts at creating a flying machine in stock footage, but credit (now more than ever in the often played-out digital video effects era) should be given to the many stuntmen who made the film believable in the end to complete a first rate production.

 

Since there is no violence, harsh language or dark anger in the film, you may expect it to be corny, quaint or lightweight, but in real life it is a classy epic comedy with impressive comic timing, actual comedy that is funny (partly because it understands human character by way of its Jack Davies screenplay) and is simply meant to be a large-scale entertainment that works.  The vehicles alone are enough for anyone to see this once and they have become so much more valuable since this was released, but tech and machine buffs will additionally appreciate seeing these early vehicles in action fully functional (except then they clunk out) and knowing that they are 100% real makes it an increasingly valuable treat just on that level.

 

But the best thing I can say is the film has an energetic pace that makes sense for the time period it takes place in and these actors are sadly too often forgotten, but really shine here with talent to spare (what large cast comedies can you really say that about in the last 10 – 20 years?) and Annakin manages to seamlessly pull it off.  He is also too forgotten and deserves to be remembered for the big screen filmmaker he was.  Anyone serious about real grade-A filmmaking should see this in its entirety at least once and this fine Blu-ray makes that possible in a way no previous release on home video could.


Extras include another nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and another fine essay by Julie Kirgo inside the case, plus the disc adds Trailers, TV Spots, an Isolated Music Score of track Ron Goodwin’s fine music (his credits include the original Village Of The Damned, Trials Of Oscar Wilde, The Alphabet Murders, Where Eagles Dare, The Battle Of Britain, Hitchcock’s Frenzy) and a feature length audio commentary track by Annakin worth hearing after seeing the film.

 

Annakin was on a roll as a major filmmaker by the time he made this and those other big event films include Battle Of The Bulge (another 70mm epic now on Blu-ray reviewed elsewhere on this site), Underworld Informers, The Long Duel, Paper Tiger, Call Of The Wild, The Biggest Bundle Of Them All and an attempt to recreate the fun of this film with the same scriptwriter in Those Daring Young Men In Their Jaunty Jalopies (1969).  See our Blu-ray coverage at this link:

 

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/10947/Circles+Of+Deceit+(1993+%E2%80%

 

 

The 1.33 X 1, 1080p full HD MVC-encoded 3-D – Full Resolution digital High Definition image on Mars is a pretty good presentation of how this should look in 3D, but it seems to still fall short of the film version I have seen before, though it easily outperforms the old 12” LaserDisc.  The 1.33 X 1 2D 1080p version is solid and even more effectively cleaned up and restored.  Overall, this is a very pleasant and all Blu-ray 3D owners should get this disc.

 

The 1080p 2.20 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Flying has been alleged to be a transfer up to 8K and from other sources at 2K, but no matter how it was done, it is pretty impressive for a film of its age and proves once again how well 65mm negative-originated filmmaking looks so good on Blu-ray.  To the disadvantage of the film, Fox never did any dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor reduction prints of the film anywhere, but color values are always superior to any HD or 35mm film when you make a 65mm (or VistaVision or IMAX production for that matter) and this was issued in DeLuxe color.  Fox invented that lab so they did not have to give Technicolor processing money.

 

The result here is that the color is pretty consistent and some restoration had to have been done to get it to look this good.  Some shots are of demo quality, but some others have some minor detail limits and color may not be as wide-ranging as I might have liked.  However, this is easily the best I have ever seen this film look over the decades and Director of Photography Christopher Challis, B.S.C. (who started with Powell & Pressburger, then moved onto films like Genevieve (1953, see the Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) about a special British car that foreshadows this huge hit film, A Shot In The Dark, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (also on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site), The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes, Evil Under The Sun, Arabesque) was a remarkable original talent whose amazing ways shooting big helped make this film a hit.  He knew how to use the very widescreen frame with its exceptional fidelity to make this come alive and capture the energy and excitement of the action of both the machines and great cast.  Some footage just may be too aged or faded to totally bring back to its original glory, but most of the transfer is on the money and fans will be very pleased.

 

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless mix on Mars is better than the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and PCM 2.0 48kHz/24-bit Stereo versions, but the original audio is included, is originally monophonic and shows its age.  The result is an interesting attempt to upgrade and enhanced the sound, but the old audio (including narration by Elliott C. Levinthal) is the most important factor and this is so interesting, you can watch it silent or with music from another source of your choice.  Still, I give AIX credit for trying to add to the experience.

 

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.0 lossless mix on Flying is towards the front speakers and more in the center channel at times than I would have liked, but this was a film originally designed for 6-track magnetic sound with traveling dialogue and sound effects as five speakers would be behind the screen for the Todd AO 70mm audio configuration, so that is to be expected.  This remastering is pretty clean and impressive down to how the Goodwin score is integrated into the rest of the audio (dialogue and sound effects) but you only get so many surrounds, which makes it faithful to the original mix.  Except for some traveling audio, I cannot imagine this sounding any better and the richness and fullness of the DTS is more than worth of freshly striped magnetic sound on a 70mm print, so audiophiles should be happy, down to how good the isolated music tracks sound.

 

 

As noted above, Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines can be ordered while supplies last at:

 

www.screenarchives.com

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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