Around the World in 80 Days Film Details
Overview: A Victorian Englishman bets that with the new steamships and railways he can circumnavigate the globe in eighty days.
Tagline: It’s a wonderful world, if you’ll only take the time to go around it!
Review: Michael Todd, Hollywood and Broadway producer and one-time husband to Elizabeth Taylor, put up six million dollars in his quest to make Around the World in 80 Days the greatest film of all time. And in 1956, that was an unheard of amount of money to spend on a movie. It swept up five Oscars, including Best Picture, but lost Best Director to the ridiculously overrated Giant. When you watch this incredible production and learn the facts behind it, it’s downright sickening that George Stevens won for filming thirty seconds of striking oil. The crew literally filmed around the world, traveling to over a hundred locations in thirteen countries and building 140 sets. The extras neared a total of 70,000 and the animals neared 8,000. Nearly half a million dollars were spent creating nearly 75,000 costumes, setting a Hollywood record. Yet The King and I won the Academy Award for costumes. And to top it all off, producer Todd and director Michael Anderson filmed it all in less than 80 days. It’s time to quote my classic phrase: What does it take? If you don’t know the movie and someone asks you about it, you’ll probably remember the promotional poster and answer, “Isn’t that the movie where the guy in the top hat sails around the world in a hot air balloon?” While that’s partially true, David Niven and his manservant Cantinflas also use trains, boats, and elephants to complete their bet that the journey in such a short time can be done. And how amazing is it that the hot air balloon isn’t even in Jules Verne’s original novel? There have been two remakes (both excellent and very fun) and the hot air balloon is included in both. It’s a must! The other must (included in all three versions and started by the brain of Michael Todd) is a host of cameos by Hollywood’s finest. There are no opening credits in this movie, but instead a lovely surprise around every corner. David Niven’s buddies who bet against him are Robert Morley, Trevor Howard, and Finlay Currie, and the well-meaning inspector who follows him is Robert Newton, in his final movie. I’ve rewatched this movie recently, and I could tell you exactly who you’ll find in which country, but it’s a lot more fun to wave at the television set and squeal with surprise and delight as you say, “Oo! There’s Frank Sinatra/Charles Boyer/Marlene Dietrich/Cesar Romero/Buster Keaton/Charles Coburn/George Raft/John Gielgud/Glynis Johns/Joe E. Brown/John Carradine/Andy Devine/Philip Ahn/Noel Coward/Hermione Gingold/Evelyn Keyes/Glynis Johns/Cedric Hardwicke/Ronald Colman/Victor McLaglen/John Mills/Peter Lorre/Gilbert Roland/Jack Oakie/Red Skelton!” Some of the cameos are very cute, like Buster Keaton’s setting, Frank Sinatra’s buildup, and Ronald Colman’s return from retirement. Others go by very quickly, so you’ll have to be on your toes-it’s no wonder this movie stayed in the theaters for two straight years during its release! Audiences wanted to make sure they caught every cameo, and when they finally did, they wanted to go out and see it again. Believe it or not, my two criticisms of the movie are the leads. Cantinflas is fine, and it’s very fun to see him perform so many stunts (including bullfighting!), but I have no idea why anyone thought to cast Shirley MacLaine as an Indian princess. David Niven lobbied for his old flame and costar Merle Oberon to have been cast, and she would have been much better. Now, you all know how much I love The Niv, but he’s very unlikable in this movie. I like Steve Coogan’s eccentric interpretation of Phileas Fogg, because a man would have to be eccentric if he were to act on such a bet, and to require his toast to be exactly 84 degrees in the morning. However, if Fogg has to have a gigantic stick up his behind, he should have been played by Clifton Webb. Imagine Mr. Belvedere sailing around the world in a hot air balloon with nothing but a red bag full of cash and a talented manservant! To end on a nicer note, Victor Young finally won his only Academy Award for his lovely score. Not only does the title song sweep you up into the time period and setting of a hot air balloon, but each location gets its own theme. Passepartout (or as Jackie Chan says in the remake Passport-2) has a delightful theme as well. When you listen to the suite, you’ll get transported to India, China, France, Mexico, and the Wild West. If the original 1956 version has escaped you (or if you remember falling asleep the first time you watched it) it’s time to rent it again. Trust me, it’s going to be better than you remember. DLM Warning: If you suffer from vertigo or dizzy spells, like my mom does, this movie might not be your friend. There are a couple of boat scenes with a bobbing camera movement that will make you sick, and when Cantinflas makes his entrance on the unicycle, the placement of the camera might throw you off. In other words, “Don’t Look, Mom!”
Country: United States
Language: English, Spanish, French
Duration: 175 min
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family
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