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This week Sam brings in one of his favorite movies from his childhood called Biggles. It's a time travel movie that desired to combine Indiana Jones with Back to the Future. Sounds like a recipe for success to us!
Thermal Spectrum Invisibility
We should start with Biggles. James Bigglesworth, or Biggles is the title character and hero in the eponymous series of books by W.E. Johns. Biggles is a sort of flying Indiana Jones. W.E. Johns himself was an airmen in WWI or "The Great War" as it was then known. It would seem he puts a lot of himself into the Biggles character, however, never stating that there was any autobiographic quality to the tales. Churchill should have taken a note. Although time is one of the main criticisms of the Biggles series, he does about 50 years worth of adventuring, time travel is not one of the main focuses of any of the young adult novels. They remain snug in the contemporary adventure genre.
How then did Biggles have an adventures in time? Yes plural adventures according to the title. Having seen the film I would think the singular would be more adequate but I will play by their rules on this one. Though the financing was originally set up through a subsidiary of Hammer in 1979, the film experienced a great deal of setbacks which delayed production and release. If it would have been released on schedule it may have come out before Raiders of the Lost Ark. Instead it will become a conceptual clone of Raiders, for a time, which still allowed it to be mostly faithful to the subject material. But then Zemeckis changed the game. Yes that’s right, someone at a decision making capacity mandated that it needed to be more like back to the future. So they added a time traveling subplot, and a wise cracking American. What came out of the blender isn’t really Biggles, while at the same time not completely abandoning Biggles. I have loved this movie since childhood but have always wondered how they came up with the idea. Frankly even to a 10 year old the scenario of time twins vs. the Nazis is a bit dubious. At the same time if anyone had ever asked me if there was a movie that was a cross between Indiana Jones and Back to the Future, I would have been able to answer; Biggles: Adventures in Time without hesitation. Until I read about it a few months ago I had no idea that the actual goal was to cross Indy and Mcfly. I will say right now I don’t think this is a bad movie. I think it somehow survives one of the most poorly conceive storytelling situations ever presented. Apparently the Pet Shop Boys immediately liked this movie as Neil Dickson shows up dressed exactly like Biggles in their musical film; It Couldn’t Happen Here.
Director John Hough made a slew of films but his greatest successes started in ’75 with Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry and ended in 1986 with this film. He continued to work but his next film was Howling 4, and then it got worse. Between the aforementioned were The Watcher in the Woods, The Incubus and both Witch Mountain movies. He also notably directed the version of Treasure Island that stars Orson Wells.
Beyond the usual Grand Moff Tarkin jokes, Peter Cushing has not yet been on the program, which is odd because he stars in about half of the Hammer Films, most usually as Baron Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes or Dr. Van Helsing. He also was Dr. Who in the two theatrical releases. I don’t know if I would describe Cushing as dashing in his youth but he did have at least a more solid constitution. The vision of him as a painfully thin man was induced by his wife’s death in 1971. Within the first few months of her death he lost a dangerous amount of weight and seemed to have aged 10 years. I was permanent. In his autobiography he states that everything was going through the motions after her death. He would survive her, albeit in a diminished state, for 14 years as he would pass in 1985. This film is Cushing’s last performance.
Neil Dickson plays Biggles. This is pretty much his biggest lead. He still works on movies, TV and video games, most notably The Elder Scrolls series. Alex Hyde-White is back after wowing us in The Fantastic 4. To add to what I said last time, he has produced and directed a genre bending film that is being labeled as a fantasy documentary. Three Days, as it is titled, is about putting on Hamlet in 3 days, sort of. You should check it out if you like the process of stage and screen.
The soundtrack is heavy with the work of Yes front man Jon Anderson. It also features The Crue, Deep Purple and John Deacon in his only non-Queen recording.
KAEOF: The stunts and practical effects. They built a rig where they could safely crash a plane with someone inside it. We will talk about the stunts more afterwards.