*Good* movies featuring hot air balloons?

Roger Ebert noted, some time back, "Good movies rarely feature a hot air balloon. Although as per the “rarely” qualifier, he admitted there are exceptions—Witness and The Wizard of Oz being examples. Although, by the looks of it, the wizard’s balloon might have actually been a hydrogen gas bag.

However, aside from those—and I can’t actually remember seeing Witness—I can’t think of any good-movies-with-hot-air-balloons. I think one of the muppet movies might have had one—and how bad can anything with Kermit be?—but I’m not sure.

So…any suggestions?

And no, any aircraft using hydrogen or helium don’t count.

Indeed, The Great Muppet Caper has a hot air balloon at the very beginning.

There’s also one in Rat Race, but it’s arguable if that’s a good movie or not. I like it, but it’s somewhat lowbrow. Same applies to Joe Dirt.

Around the World in 80 Days?

I don’t think Ebert liked that movie. As for me, I thought it was entertaining but lightweight.

And, by the transitive property, there’s one in The Great Race.

The balloon in Witness is seen at a distance, for five seconds. It’s not a “movie which features one.” But it is a great movie (IMHO), which just goes to prove Ebert’s observation. :wink:

A film which DOES feature a hot air balloon (major plot point, though not much screen time) but is, I think, quite a good movie – thought provoking, understated, and well acted – is a British film starring Daniel Craig from maybe five years ago. It’s about a group of friends who one day tried to stop a hot air balloon from escaping in a gust of wind, and I think one of them died (or maybe a child died, I can’t recall)…the name of the film escapes me (ba da bing), but I’ll look it up and report back in a minute.

Found it: Enduring Love. It’s actually nine years old, and by no means universally liked, and I was only describing the first half of the movie…but I still think this is as good a candidate as any to counter Ebert’s offhand and funny remark (obviously, he was pillorying lightweight 1960s-and-70s ensemble pieces like Around the World in Eighty Days.)

Night Crossing

Charlie Bubbles ends with Albert Finney stealing a balloon. However, Ebert’s maxim may have been overridden by mine: no bad movie has Billie Whitelaw in it.

Stardust, based on the book by Neil Gaiman, and Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories are both movies I liked with hot air balloons.

In the truly wonderful Kind Hearts and Coronets, Lady Agatha D’Ascoyne (Alec Guinness of course) is killed while dropping leaflets from a hot air balloon.

A movie that would be in IMDB’s top 250 if only more people had seen it.

Jules Verne did NOT include a balloon in his book Around the World in 80 Days, although, because of the movie, they think he did. (My first paperback copy of the book has a balloon on the cover).

Nevertheless, Verne DID use balloons in other books, and film adaptations have used the balloons as well:

The Mysterious Island (1961) the Harryhausen adaptation

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916) – the silent film ambitiously attempted to include both 20,000 Leagues and The Mysterious Island at the same time. It also included great underwater photography (in 1916!), a submarine that faithfully resembled the one Verne described, and an Indian Prince Dakkar as Captain Nemo (the last time the character was so portrayed, AFAIK, until the graphic novel League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). Worth having a look at.

Five Weeks in a Balloon (1962) – Irwin Allen ,made it, so you know it’s not faithful, and they have a 1960s cast straight out of the adaptations-of-odd-books-cast-list (Red Buttons, Peter Lorre, Barbara Eden, Cedric Hardwicke, Fabian). And the Irish Rovers sing the theme song.

By the way, I don’t think balloons were used in any of the scenes except for long shots. Production photos show them using a basket suspended from a crane for both Mysterious Island and Five Weeks in a Balloon, and for Mysterious Island and 20,000 Leagues the long shots are clearly special effects shots. I guess real balloons are too unwieldy for real film production.

Note, too, that Moore has him use the hot-air balloon in that graphic novel, which is far better than the movie version we got.

This is the correct answer.

Is Superman 2 considered a good movie?

Didn’t Lex Luther break out of prison any find the Fortress of Solitude in a Hot Air Balloon?

I came in here to mention this one. A pleasant little film from Disney, not necessarily aimed at kids.

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, with its hot air balloon made of women’s knickers.

Good movies? Nothing comes to mind, but I did see a bad movie, made-for-TV quality, about some kind of caper using small one man hot air balloons for the escape at the end of whatever they were doing. I have no idea what it was called, probably made in the 70s or 80s, I can’t recall that it was worth watching, but it was interesting use of hot air balloons in a movie.

I was thinking of that one, but not sure if it qualifies, as I think the balloon is gas-buoyed, rather than hot air.

Men Don’t Leave with Jessica Lange, Joan Cusack, a very young Chris O’Donnell and the tragically rarely seen Arliss Howard.