When this movie is made in 1956, one can circumnavigate the globe in a little less than two days. When Jules Verne wrote the story "Around the World in Eighty Days" in 1872, he predicted that one day man could accomplish the task in eighty hours, but which most considered folly to do in eighty days in current times... that is except for people like Englishman Phileas Fogg, a regimented man who believed all it would take is exacting work, the skills he possesses. He just has to make sure a train's schedule meets the required sailing schedule which meets the required coach schedule and so on. As such, he takes up what ends up being the highly publicized £20,000 wager from his fellow members at the London Reform Club to do so, losing the bet which would ruin him financially. Along for the ride is Fogg's new, loyal and devoted valet, the recently arrived Latin immigrant, Passepartout, who possesses unusual skills which could be major assets, but whose all consuming thoughts on the ... Written by
(Mag-optical) (35 mm prints) (1956)|Mono
(optical) (35 mm prints) (re-release prints)|70 mm 6-Track
(70 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)|4-Track Stereo
(Perspecta Sound encoding) (35 mm magnetic prints) (1956)
The greatest supporting cast in the history of film
Michael Todd's screen adaptation of Jules Verne's classic novel is a masterpiece.
Beautifully shot in over 100 different locations around the world, it is one of the few novels which actually benefits from big screen treatment. No longer do we have to imagine these fine exotic places in our minds, they are presented here in full cinematic and Technicolour brilliance.
The great David Niven plays the quintessential English gentleman to the hilt as Philias Fogg, the well to do bachelor who after calmly announcing that it was possible, accepts a £20,000 wager from his fellow Reform Club members to travel round the world in 80 days.
In tow on this mammoth voyage are newly appointed man servant Passepartout played by Mexican entertainer Cantinflas, a rather miscast Shirley MacLaine as Aouda a recently rescued Indian Princess and the lovable and ever watchable Robert Newton as Mr. Fix the detective who is convinced Fogg is a master criminal who left Britain having just robbed the Bank of England.
Yet what adds flavour to an already wonderful story and fascinating movie, is that no matter what corner of the globe our intrepid Fogg appears, he is helped, hindered, slowed down, befriended and attacked by a myriad of world renowned movie stars. Never before or since has a film boasted so many top named stars in cameo appearances.
Robert Morley, Ronald Squire, Finlay Currie, Basil Sydney, Noel Coward, John Gielgud, Trevor Howard, Harcourt Williams, Martine Carol, Fernandel, Charles Boyer, Evelyn Keyes, Gilbert Roland, Cesar Romero, Alan Mowbray, Cedric Hardwicke, Melville Cooper, Reginald Denny, Ronald Colman, Charles Coburn, Peter Lorre, George Raft, Red Skelton, Marlene Dietrich, John Carradine, Frank Sinatra, Buster Keaton, Tim McCoy, Joe E. Brown, Andy Devine, Edmund Lowe, Victor McLaglen, Jack Oakie, Beatrice Lillie, John Mills, Glynis Johns and Hermione Gingold all come along for this bizarre journey.
Now thats what I call a cast list.
Niven is as always a joy to watch as the seemingly unstoppable and resourceful Fogg, so much so that the film can be forgiven its epic length.
However, I do feel as though a good half an hour could have been trimmed had Todd decided to tone down some of Cantinflas' over long routines. We know what a fantastic and talented performer he was, there was no real need to hammer the point home with a nigh on 15 minute bull fight sequence, Japanese circus tricks and stunt horse riding.
However despite this one criticism, the film is legend, the story is legend and was fully deserving of the five Oscar's it was awarded, including Best Picture of 1956.
In fact I feel certain that if Philias Fogg had a film like this on DVD, he would have much preferred to stay at home and watch it. I know I certainly would.
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