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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is really too bad that most people didn't see "ATWIED" in Todd-AO, because, especially the pan-and-scan version butchered the movie from cutting off half the picture to cutting out the scenes that perform such an important linking function to the narrative. The worst rape was the last shot before the end titles. (If you see the full-screen version you'll know what I mean) To tell the truth, having seen the original form, I cannot bear to watch what HBO, AMC and now TCM has done to this gem. I have the good fortune to have the new DVD version, which is the full Todd-AO version, I also have the good fortune to have a front screen projector which throws the film onto a 13 foot wrap-around screen fully restoring the Todd-AO experience. If you who are disillusioned with the movie can get a copy of the DVD, try to watch it on the biggest screen you can, as close up as possible, and perhaps you will see it as Michael Todd intended you to see it.
WARNING: These comments may reveal portions of the film's
With David Niven as Phineas Fogg, you will find that this version of the Jules Verne story is almost as broad as the subject of the film -- "around the world."
As is often said, they don't make them like this anymore. According to the brief description in AMC's viewer guide, the film was shot on location in 13 countries with 75,000 costumes and 70,000 extras -- and it shows! Look at the list of credited and uncredited actors in the IMDB and you'll be hard pressed to find a film with more leading and character actors. Just spotting the faces of the classic actors in the film is a game in itself.
Another aspect that will show dramatically is that some sequences are incredibly camp -- they are obviously cut from travelog movies of the day. And in many cases where the footage was shot new, it still has that flair.
Where the film succeeds best is when it goes for the comedic bits. Watch the scene in the saloon out west, where Mr. Fogg's valet, Passepartout runs into Red Skelton as a drunk while listening to Frank Sinatra play the piano!
Overall, most will find the film a bit long. The many scenes that are shot from the point of view of the actors simply "watching the scenery go by" drag the film. Even some of the action scenes run long. When Passepartout must fight a bullfight early in the film, the fight goes on and on and on. Hang on for the funny bits in the film -- and the cameos -- and you can't go wrong. Enjoy the scenery!
I stuck it out but was reminded that the previous time I saw it I had
decided that I did not ever need to see it again. But this time it was
in HD! Random comments: This was obviously made for the Cinerama
(Todd-AO) screen, with the many travelogue scenes that are pretty but
now read like a demonstration reel for a new (1950s) projection feature
at Disney World. Many "look out the window, stock shot" sequences. OK,
so they weren't stock shots but it sure felt like it.
IMDb says that at the time, Cantinflas was the highest-paid movie star in world. Apparently popular everywhere but the U.S. I did not find him particularly engaging or appealing.
There is nary a bit of humor or tension in the whole film. Each crisis is instantly solved by either money or a simple "Land Ho!". In fact, some sequences drag on way too long, specifically the ones in Spain. (Maybe for the Cantinflas audience?) There is a bullfighting sequence that goes on for nearly 15 minutes where absolutely nothing is at stake and the movie stops completely dead.
It was startling to go from the cinematic location shots to the obvious backlot first unit stuff. For such an "epic", it felt quite claustrophobic.
I liked and recognized many of the cameos. Apparently this was the film that started that trend.
The music was lush and wonderful, and the end title sequence was quite engaging (a Saul Bass production). This version had the Edward R. Murrow intro which I had not seen before, and the Intermission, Entracte, and Exit Music, all of which I quite like in an epic film event.
I kept mentally comparing this to some of the other big event films around the time, especially It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and The Great Race, both of which I enjoyed much more.
One thing that made me laugh is that one Indian fell off his horse three times. It may have been three angles of the same shot.
I did find it interesting that Fogg used a telescope much like the antique one I found I have. Now I wonder just how old it is?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It hardly seems possible that I was in the fourth grade when this lavish
spectacle came out. I can still clearly recall the massive p.r. blitz and
the hype surrounding its release. There was a special air of adventure
around the movie that was more common in those days, when Hollywood was
striving for increasingly fabulous and star-loaded vehicles, to compete
with television's increasing inroads into viewership. This special quality
has been completely lost in these days when cinematic `product' is churned
out in an undifferentiated stream. It's impossible to imagine, except in a
few rare cases , that kind of aura surrounding a contemporary
When our family went to see it (yes, there was a time when families went to the movies together! yes, there was a time when there were movies suitable for the whole family to watch!) I remember being completely swept away by the spectacle, the romance, the sheer sweep of the thing. I was too young at the time to recognize many of the actors who put in the plethora of cameos, but it's fun to do so today. The movie's main theme quickly entered the popular music repertoire and became practically ubiquitous. The problem in evaluating the movie now is not to allow fond nostalgia to interfere with an objective assessment.
[**** minor spoiler **** ] The movie is a tad dated, but not, I think, fatally so. It still stands up as a fast-paced adventure yarn with a touch of tongue-in-cheek comedy and a certain archness (as witness the very final closing words in an aside to the audience) bestowed by David Niven's strong lead. The chemistry between him and Cantinflas works well, and Robert Newton provides a good foil as Mr. Fix. Shirley Maclaine, however, is miscast. (For a real hoot, by the way, click on the `full cast and crew' link of this movie in IMDB, where each and every actor, including ALL the extras, is listed alphabetically. What a riot!)
One previous viewer complained about a lack of character development. Yes, and one doesn't go to a hardware store to buy hamburger, either.
And the exotic locales have lost none of their appeal. One quibble would be the Spanish scenes, where Jose Greco's Flamenco routine and the overly long subsequent bullfight sequence impede the flow.
There is no question that the super-wide screen format of Todd-AO, which used a special fish-eye lens for the scenery shots, and which was shown on a special curved screen in the theaters, was essential for the travelogue atmosphere of the flick. To see it on a tv-sized screen degrades the movie's impact considerably. I had looked in vain for years for this to be broadcast or re-released in letterbox and I am happy to see TMC has done so as of August, '03 ! As predicted, the letterbox format, and the rejuvenated print, reinvigorates this nearly unique film, which I somewhat hesitantly venture to call a classic.
This monstrously overblown 'entertainment' didn't just win the Oscar as
the year's Best Picture but was also chosen by that august body, The
New York Film Critic's Circle; it was hardly their finest hour. It's a
producer's movie rather than a director's, (the producer was that
showman Mike Todd), and he assembled a massive cast of 'stars' to
appear in cameo roles to boost the film's box-office appeal and he made
it in his own spectacular widescreen format, Todd-AO. Certainly
everything about it was big and you felt like you were taking 80 days
to watch it.
The main parts of Phileas Fogg, the intrepid gentleman-adventurer, and his man-servant, Passepartout, went to David Niven and the Mexican actor, Cantinflas. Niven was actually very good considering his role never really amounted to more than being host in a large-scale travelogue, while Cantinflas was as annoying as foreign actors can be when cast as comic foils in large-scale 'international' productions. Perhaps the worst piece of casting was that of Shirley MacLaine as an Indian Princess, a performance just marginally less insulting than those of Peter Sellers in "The Millionairess" and Alec Guiness in "A Passage to India".
Lionel Lindon's photography ensures that it's consistently easy on the eye; otherwise all it proves is that the world's a big place and who would want to spend 80 days in this company going round it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After viewing two movies with this title, I seriously wonder what the
book is about. Because there's no way a successful 19th century novel
could be this bereft of ideas. The version is a wide-screen travelogue,
and the most developed theme the movie offers is an "anti-racism"
message, while the movie somehow still manages to be racist. Niven
plays uptight, Anglocentric prig Phileas Fogg. Cantinflas, with no
discernible talent whatsoever, either triumphs in various int'l tasks,
in a way Fogg could never (anti-racist), or wreaks havoc on each new
place (because he's also an ignorant stereotype).
It a movie with a lot of problems. The first half hour is bogged down in what must be the world's most inert setup dialog, so that the rest of the movie can go silent for long stretches. The movie cheaps out too much - preferring to stick its stars in front of a flat wall in a Hollywood studio, and cut to location vistas they're seeing, to keep costs down. This is pretty shabby-looking. When we arrive in Suez we're on an interior set of an exterior (a harbor). Who wants to see that in wide screen with Todd-AO? Cantinflas' Passepartout is intended to provide comic relief, but his bits are lazy and undeveloped, and he plays his buffoon with a flat affect. He has zero screen presence. The movie eats up more than 90 minutes, before in desperation it switches to "cameo overload" mode in an effort to liven things up. Everything ever filmed moves quicker than 80 Days.
If you had to pick one of the two movie versions to watch, it's a toss-up. They're both bad. This one at least offers a lesson about film history. Every Best Picture winner flatters viewers ideas about themselves in some way; in this case voters rewarded a movie that suggested they were cosmopolitan.
At a time where the standards for good movie making was apparently a
lot lower than it is today, Michael Anderson's "Around the world in 80
days" was the biggest stinker I've seen since "Shaft in Africa."
Im just kidding. I NEVER saw "Shaft in Africa." When I was watching this movie all I could picture was the director saying "Wow, what a great location! This will look great on film! Now.... the actors have to do something don't they..... oh hell why don't they just dance or fight or something for a while. The cameras have an auto pilot right? Man! I just cant get over this location!" A perfect example is the pointless cameo by Frank Sinatra. He's playing the piano in the saloon and he turns to look towards the camera and gives it a kinda sad face. And thats it for Frank. Done. No explanation, no reason. Just an excuse to put a big name in the cast. Its obvious that all the budget was used on traveling to and securing locations, and not on such things as "acting lessons" or "props NOT made of rubber." You can watch this movie if you want to waste about 3 hours of your time. But personally, I think you'll learn just as much about other cultures if you go to the Taco Bell drive through.
If you have a chance to read the Jules Verne novel, do so. It's a great story. It is so much more than this glitzy piece of hash. Because Cinerama was such a big deal (the literally put you inside the movie), scenes that were chosen were chosen for their size and excessiveness. Phileas Fogg and Passeportout find themselves in one tough situation after another. The science be damned. It's an Indian tribe or a train or a balloon. Everything is big and colorful. This is fine if there is a really nicely thought out story. Yes, I know he had to get around the world, but each step becomes an excuse for the camera. David Niven is a nice screen presence; he excludes sophistication. Of course, there is a raft of big stars along the way. Some of them work, some just do the cameo thing with very little to do. I'm sure that at the time many were dazzled by this new cinematic technique (which never really caught on). Like the I-max thing, at times it becomes really distracting. Seeing it on the small screen is even more ineffective. The only thing that has this going for it is that it is better than the abomination that features Jackie Chan.
David Niven is given a bet that challenges him to go around the world in
eighty days. He decides to wager his entire fortune, just to prove that he
can do it.
He sets out in a hot air balloon with his new butler (Cantinflas). They get to Spain instead of Marseilles, and Cantinflas finds himself in a bullfight to win tickets for their destination.
But Robert Newton is on their trail because the bank of London has been robbed and he thinks Niven did it and is trying to escape.
Niven and Cantinflas get in other adventures, including rescuing a princess (Shirley MacLaine) and saving a train from hostile Indians.
Niven plays his role with great ease. He knows what he's doing and he does it well. Cantinflas is the comic relief in this movie. And he's quite funny. All in all Around the World in 80 Days is one of the best adventures you'll ever have.
It won five Oscars including Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, and Score. It was nominated for Director, Art-Direction, and Costume Design.
How this movie rated any Academy awards, let alone five, has always amazed me. The story is a faint shadow of Jules Verne's excellent book and ends up being a wide screen travelogue with no redeeming features. The only thing that temporarily piqued my interest was spotting the veritable plethora of stars in cameo roles. Even the great photography eventually became tiresome. The numerous delays Fogg experienced during his travels were oh so predictable and the assortment of characters he encountered were nothing more than hackneyed clichés. If you have yet to see this film, do yourself a favour and spend your time and money on a movie with real quality.
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