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Howard Hughes - The Real Aviator

11 customer reviews

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(Nov 16, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An award-winning new film exploring his extraordinary life on a DVD packed with special features!

Winner: "Grand Festival Award" for Best Documentary at the 2004 Berkeley Video & Film Festival.

In Howard Hughes: The Real Aviator, Howard Hughes tells his own story for the first time. Through his own words, taken from his actual memos, conversations and interviews, the man who broke aviation records, survived three plane crashes, built RKO Studios and TWA and changed the face of Las Vegas forever comes to life in this thoroughly engrossing film. This film digs deeper into his life and his impact on modern aviation than any other and it’s loaded with fantastic extras!


• HUGHES CONQUERS HOLLYWOOD: From Playboy to Producer

The premiere of Hells Angels (the world’s largest film premiere)

Original trailers for Hells Angels, Conqueror and Jet Fighter

• HUGHES TAKES ON THE U.S. GOVERNMENT: Rare and dramatic testimony directly from Hughes

• THE FLYING BOAT: WORLD’S LARGEST PLANE — Hughes’ grandest achievement

• THE CONSTELLATION: The plane that changed passenger aviation

• HUGHES IN FLIGHT: Redigitized and spectacular aviation footage of Howard Hughes, "The Real Aviator"

• HUGHES AIRCRAFT HEADQUARTERS: Newly filmed footage of the famous headquarters in Culver City, California

• PHOTO GALLERY: Rare collection including Hughes’ only known color photo

PLUS!! Never-before-disclosed revelations from those who knew him best

• TERRY MOORE: Hughes’ wife and keeper of his legacy

• GEORGE FRANCOM: Member of the often referred to "Mormon Mafia" and Hughes’ personal aide and link to the outside world until the day he died

• ROBERT MAHEU: Spearheaded Hughes’ Vegas takeover; though they were in contact every day, they never met face-to-face

• JACK REAL: Hughes’ lifelong, closest friend and only outside confidante

Howard Hughes: The Real Aviator is powerful, razor-sharp storytelling, an unsettling documentary built around Hughes's own recollections written during his final years of bizarre reclusiveness. Using newsreel footage, smart visual effects, and interviews with wife Terry Moore, close friend Jack Real, and key aides and executives from Hughes's sundry enterprises, The Real Aviator tells the almost improbable tale of the strapping Texan who transformed, at age 19, his late father's successful Hughes Tool Company into a colossal enterprise for cutting-edge aircraft and Hollywood film production. A daring pilot and driven captain of industry, Hughes built the planes that allowed him to break every speed record imaginable, created Trans-World Airlines (TWA), and moved heaven and earth to invent his fantastic "flying boat" while under government contract--the latter, dubious achievement (along with a near-lethal plane crash) triggering his long descent into mental illness and horrifying isolation. An essential film about a mythic American figure. --Tom Keogh

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Howard R. Hughes
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Shout Factory
  • DVD Release Date: November 16, 2004
  • Run Time: 170 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00064AF64
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,428 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By John P Bernat on December 30, 2004
Format: DVD
You'll want to see this movie if you've seen the new Scorcese film. This one delivers great interviews with people close to Hughes, and fills your need for more background of this unusual life.

However, the producers have adopted some really hard-to-take conceits in presenting their material:

1. A really bogus "first person narration" device by some guy with a fake Texas accent. The writing of this narrative line is stilted, hackneyed and takes away from good content.

2. Overuse of a musical track. I used to like the song they used until they ran it into the ground.

3. "Dancing stills." The producers watched way too many Ken Burns documentaries.

The material itself is strong; Hughes' life story is dramatic enough. The excesses and melodrama used here take away from a real underlying story...
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By R. Catherine on December 7, 2004
Format: DVD
Howard Hughes was definitely one of the most fascinating and eccentric Americans from the last century. This film does an excellent job of telling his story. What's really great about this documentary are the interviews with some of the people who were really close to Hughes, like his best friend. It's great to hear their first hand accounts of the man and his life. There's a ton of cool footage as well.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Czombos on February 1, 2005
Format: DVD
The Scorcese film was great. But there is nothing like the real thing, the real footage, the real McCoy. Hughes was an incredibly interesting man and this film covers a lot more of his life than the Hollywood Blockbuster does. It's amazing that after all these years, those who were close to him are still brought to tears when recalling Mr. Hughes. I thought the actor did a great job expressing Hughes' feelings throughout his adventures. The interviews were moving and the editing seamless and concise. A must for biography collectors!

I highly recommend this DVD.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By L. Carol on March 13, 2005
Format: DVD
Like many reviewers, my interest in Howard Hughes is ignited on account of Scorsese's engaging movie, "The Aviator", and I bought this DVD, along with Hell's Angels, from, in a bid to heighten my knowledge base on the tragic mogul. However, this documentary was unduly disappointing. While it gave selected rare footages and interviews with Hughes' family/friend/business associates*, it was brief and did little to offer a well-rounded picture of Hughes' incredible life story. Conversely, Hell's Angels was good watching as it gave viewers a glimpse into Hughes' seriousness and dedication as a filmaker, like his insistence in doing his own stunts when no hired pilot would risk their lives for, amongst other technical details that went into making the movie an epic of its time.

As many reviewers would attest, the best way to learn about Hughes would be to peruse the best biographies out there, notably "Howard Hughes: His Life & Madness" by Donald L. Barlett and "Howard Hughes: The Untold Story" by Peter Harry Brown. These two books probably provided key background information to the screenplay of the exceptional cinematic depiction of Hughes' life. The difference is that "His Life & Madness" focussed more on Hughes' business dealings whilst "The Untold Story" zeroed in on his private persona & escapades, but both of which are well-researched page-turners, filling any gaping voids in our pursuit to complete the study of Hughes' life, feats and loves.

*The books may steer readers to the conclusion that certain interviewees may have been "convenient" with the truth. I shan't mention any names here but it was implicated that at least one of the so-called close aides/family of Hughes interviewed for the purpose of this DVD successfully got a slice of his empire/wealth by years of skilful, pre-meditated plotting. Curious? Read the books and be your own sleuth!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By K. Gittins on April 10, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a great documentary on the life of Howard Hughes. No lifespan can be fully covered in 110 minutes, so if you want every detail, I would suggest a book instead.

However, if you want the "big picture" - and Howard was big in more ways that one - then this is a great DVD. It briefly covers his boyhood and developing love for airplanes and flying, his movie-making business, world-record-setting flights for both speed and distance, and his business and military aircraft designs.

Interspersed with the first-person narration are interviews with personal friends, ex-wives and business partners. They seem genuinely moved at the memory of Howard, who turned out to be a reclusive, drug-addicted loner in the end.

No matter how strangely Howard lived his later years, he was a true aviation pioneer, made some very big contributions to the industry, and ended up giving his fortune to a medical/science fund.

On a side note, I actually stood on top of the flying boat (the "HK-1", called the "Hercules" but popularized as "the Spruce Goose" due to its wood construction) when it was on display in the dome at Long Beach. I knew the security person involved, and it was wholey unauthorized :-)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stein Smith on July 6, 2005
Format: DVD
Wasn't completely blown away by the documentary. IF you are a fan of his flying and ground breaking aircraft production, then the footage on this DVD is worth buying.

I agree with the other review, the narration w/ the texan accent and over use of old timers soundtrack makes the THE REAL AVIATOR not a classic or must have. If you are looking for tons of info about his death, vegas empire, etc then this DVD will not satify your appetite. The movie talks a lot about his life in aviation which made me buy it and watch it a lot.
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