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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

'Blast-Off' BD: Classic '60s Star-Studded Epic Comic Adventure

The Olive Films March 21, 2017 Blu-ray release of the 1967 film "Blast-Off" (nee "Those Fantastic Flying Fools," nee "Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon") completes the BD releases of the trifecta of '60s star-studded epic comic adventure films. The other two are "The Great Race" and "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." All three are staples of '70s-era Sunday afternoon UHF station lineups.

An especially awesome aspect of "Blast-off" and its kin is that the pace and humor are so perfect that you will want to give then your full attention. You further will see that a big-budget comedy does not require crude humor or elaborate effects.

Burl Ives, who will always be remembered for "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," stars as master Victorian-era showman P.T. Barnum in this (presumably) fictional adventure. The plethora of other stars include dreamy matinee idol Troy Donahue as dashing young Gaylord Sullivan, and British national treasure/"World" actor Terry-Thomas as the unscrupulous Captain Sir Harry Washington Smythe.

The opening scenes of "Blast-off" establish that the Queen is not amused regarding a series of epic failures regarding the endeavors of a group of British scientists. This roughly coinciding with Barnum fleeing to England due to a scandal in America puts this promoter in contact with those men of science just as the latter is combining forces to send a man to the moon and back. Sullivan drops in on all the chaos with his runaway bride in tow and his romantic rival in hot pursuit.

The mayhem escalates with a frantic race against time to complete the wonderfully elaborate rocket. The obstacles include funding difficulty, sabotage, and international politics. This is not to mention placing the aforementioned damsel in distress in a terrifically melodramatic manner.

Staying very true to the genre, the action builds up the climax of the launch. The integrity continues with nothing going right regarding that, the boy getting the girl, and the villains getting justice of the literal and poetic varieties.

The sad truth is that they cannot make 'em like this anymore. Very few stars have the talent and the spirit to fill all the roles, and it seems that the directors with the clout to get a multi-million dollar budget lack the ability to put a film together in the same manner as the comedic masters of the '60s. Fortunately, Olive is providing a chance to see what you are missing.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Blast-Off" is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.