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WestPundit
Thursday, May 18, 2006
 
The Mercurial Nature Of A Hollywood Career

I'm currently watching Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines. And I can't help but reflect on what a harsh master Hollywood is...

1965 was a big year for films: We had The Sound of Music ($174m gross), Doctor Zhivago ($103m gross), Thunderball ($62m gross), and, in fourth place, was Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes. It grossed about $31m, a huge success, considering its $5.6m production budget. (#5 was That Darn Cat, at $28m.)

But what happened from there, for the show's stars? Of course, biggies Robert Morley, Red Skelton, Terry-Thomas, and Benny Hill, performed admirably in their secondary roles, and continued their successful careers thereafter. But Stuart Whitman was a constantly employed, but little-known character actor (mostly in westerns) going into this, and that's the life he returned to after. James Fox went on to a long string of second-billings, in second-rate films, like King Rat, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and A Passage to India.

A Passage to India is important here, as it was the swan song of one of cinema's greatest directors, David Lean - who also did Doctor Zhivago. But then he did Ryan's Daughter, starring the lovely Sarah Miles (Patricia Rawnsley from Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines). Ryan's Daughter had to be the biggest disappointment in Hollywood history - well, until Ishtar. And if it wasn't the professional death of Sarah Miles, one of Hollywood's most promising young starlets, The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing surely was.

Well, it is what it is, it was what it was.

Update: I can't let this post go without noting why, at least for me, this film still has magic - four decades later: Most of those flying shots are of actual aircraft - very liberal reproductions of their 1910 originals. It might be astounding to today's generation, but they didn't have CGI back in 1965.
 
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A blog dedicated to the personal musings of Kevin L. Connors - a pragmatic libertarian, engineer, businessman, and journalist.

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