THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES; OR, HOW I FLEW FROM LONDON TO PARIS IN 25 HOURS 11 MINUTES
GB 1965 2hrs 18mins Dir: Ken Annakin Starring: Stuart Whitman and Sarah Miles
An English press magnate offers £10,000 to the winner of the Daily Post air race from London to Paris
This brilliant all-star spectacular, the full title of which is as shown above, has a memorable comedy sequence in which Terry-Thomas lands his Avro Triplane IV on top of a moving French steam train, only for it to then be destroyed when the train enters a tunnel. The scene was filmed on the Bedford-Hitchin line which closed in 1964 and the train was formed of preserved Highland Railway 4F Class ‘Jones Goods’ 4-6-0 No.103 (with ‘NORD’ on its tender to represent a Chemin de Fer du Nord locomotive) and a rake of Caledonian Railway coaches. This amusing scene used a combination of back-projection and stunts, which involved flying a plane alongside whilst the mock-up of the real Avro aircraft was wrecked in the accident using a stunt double and some strategically placed cameras. The tunnel was the 882 yard long Old Warden Tunnel. Earlier in the film, the competitors head for the coast by road and ‘cross the railway line to Dover near Tonbridge’. Not quite, it is Compton level crossing on the line between Didcot and Newbury, which also closed in 1964.