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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Everyone enjoys taking a cheap shot at the Academy Awards, and this
movie offers a great chance to do just that - Around the World in
Eighty Days won Best Picture, while in the same year John Ford's The
Searchers, one of the most iconic classics in the history of American
cinema, didn't receive a single nomination.
Around the World is three hours long, and feels like it. Every few minutes the movie stops to gawk at its exotic locations and smugly chuckle at its endless celebrity cameos ("Look, isn't it funny that the saloon pianist is Frank Sinatra?"). It has certainly aged badly. I remember enjoying it as a kid thirty years ago; rewatching it recently, I was surprised by how overlong it feels. I had a similar reaction to another on-the-road adventure/comedy of the same era, The Great Race, except the latter is propelled even today by Jack Lemmon's villainous glee as Professor Fate and by the sight of the adorable Natalie Wood in her lingerie. Around the World features also-adorable Shirley MacLaine - but, distractingly, she is unlikely cast as an Indian princess.
Overall, though, this Jules Verne adaptation isn't a bad movie - a mildly entertaining travelogue with luscious vistas and a tone-perfect David Niven as a British gentleman so prim and fastidious that, if you tossed a couple of eggs in his luggage, two minutes later he would produce from it still immaculate clothes and a perfectly cooked omelet on a silver platter. In fact, Around the World is at its best when it focuses on Niven's Phileas Fogg dryly dealing with annoyances, obstacles and threats, and at its worst when it pauses to showcase the physical skills of co-star Cantinflas as Passepartout - so we have a dancing number, a bullfighting number, a circus number, and so on.
The result is drawn-out; we complain that Peter Jackson added at least a whole hour of bloat in each Hobbit movie, but Hollywood was already doing that sixty years ago.
This fun picture deals with known story about gentleman Phineas Fogg
wagers he can circumnavigate the earth and he sets off on spectacular
journey . Lavish rendition with all-star cast , it finds Victorian
gentleman wagering that he can circle the globe in 80 days . Classic
adaptation based on Jules Verne novel with a marvelous duo , David
Niven and his faithful butler well played by Cantinflas who confront
much excitement and a lot of adventures along the way . The film
provides ample amusement and entertainment , it concerns about a
Victorian English gentleman named Phileas Fogg (David Niven always
professed that Phileas Fogg was his favorite role) and his manservant
named Passapart (Cantinflas, in the mid-50s, he was the wealthiest
movie star in the world, and was given top billing in Latin countries)
. He takes a wager with various gentlemen from 'The Reform Club' that
he can circle the globe around the world in 80 days . Just before the
time they leave , a valuable lot of money is robbed and the authorities
and president of Bank of England believe that unflappable Fogg is the
guilty and a Detective set out after him . Later on , they save a
damsel in distress, a gorgeous Indian girl (Shirley MacLaine to this
day contends that she was miscast in this, her third film) . Using
various means of transport as balloon , trains , steamer , flying
machine and following a way , Fogg along with Passepart go to Dover ,
Paris , Spain , Calcuta , Burma jungle , Hong Kong , Yokohama ,
Forbidden city of Pekin , San Francisco , Omaha and New York , as they
are trying back to London . Meanwhile , they are chased by an Inspector
named Fix (Robert Newton) who suspects him of a daring bank theft .
This funny picture is plenty of adventures , humor , action , rip-roaring and spectacular outdoors . From start to finish the entertainment and amusement is continued . The bullfighting sequence filmed in Chinchon , Spain , was added because Cantinflas had bullfighting experience , he actually was in the ring with the bull, eschewing the use of a stunt doublé ; this was one of the first sequences to be shot. The film features the longest closing credits sequence up to that time and for many years afterward - six minutes and twenty-one seconds , splendidly realized by Saul Bass ; all of the film's credits are shown only at the end, and the very last credit to be shown is the film's title . Big-budgeted take on by two great producers , Michael Todd and William Cameron Menzies , as the film used 140 sets built at six Hollywood studios, as well as in England, Hong Kong and Japan , 74,685 costumes were designed, made or rented for use ; the cast and crew flew over 4,000,000 miles ; 68,894 extras were used while shooting the film in 13 countries ; 90 animal handlers managed the record 8,552 animals used . Michael Todd's original estimate for the film's budget was $3 million ; the film ended up costing nearly double that, largely thanks to Todd's demands for verisimilitude and location shooting. There appears a variety of cameos , the star-gazers will particularly enjoy several known actors by many Hollywood's biggest names with more than thirty cameos for buffs such as Marlene Dietrich , Robert Newton , John Carradine , Noel Coward , Ronald Colman, Ronald Squire, Cedric Hardwicke, John Gielgud, Trevor Howard , Victor McLaglen and John Mills , Robert Morley who repeat in a 1989 TV version , among others ; in fact , the term "cameo", meaning in this case a small part by a famous person, was popularized by the many "cameo appearances" in this film. The colorfully cinematography by Lionel Lindon is well showed on sensational landscapes ; being second Todd-AO production , the first was Oklahoma!. Unforgettable and lively music by Victor Young including catching leitmotif .
This classic ¨Mike Todd's Around the world in 80 days¨ that hasn't lost its charm over the years was compellingly directed by Michael Anderson and generally considered the single largest film project ever undertaken in Hollywood . However , the movie began shooting with John Farrow as director, and Emmett Emerson as the first assistant director in London ; both were replaced. Filming was completed in 75 shooting days . Other versions are the followings : , Australian retelling titled ¨Around the world in 89 days (1986)¨ by Stephen MacLean and recent adaptation (2004) offering full of entertainment directed by Frank Coraci with Jackie Chan , Steve Coogan , Cecile De France , Mark Addy , Owen Wilson , Luke Wilson and many others . And a TV version (1989) with by Buzz Kulik with Pierce Brosnan , Eric Idle , Julia Nickson , John Mills, Robert Morley , among others .
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.
*** 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.
*** 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.
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.
This movie was very effective because it instilled a sense of adventure and fun. Very often, movies try to sell an interesting setting. Here's an idea? If audiences like a good setting, why not put lots of settings. And it's one that the movie pulls off. From the jungles of India to the Wild West, to the bullfights of Spain this movie is packed with entertaining settings. The movie's central plot is fairly weak. The strength comes mainly from the series of adventures that come with each place they travel. Another strength of the movie is the gradual but dynamic changes within the characters. Phileas Fogg starts out an upper class man, who doesn't really have much reguard for anyone who's not rich or well-respected. As he goes around the world, we see him having a heightened appreciation of the world around him. His conversations shows he has figured out what the people who don't spend their time drinking tea and talking about royalty are like. The two noticeable ways he changes are his friendship for Pasepartue, in which he sacrifices his valuable time to save him, and the Princess in which he also sacrifices valuable time to save her. That is the main message of this movie. About a snob who's eyes are opened up. What's great is that this message is sent on a bite-sized level easy to absorb. The movie is also heightened by the clever injection of an antagonist who's right under his nose. Lastly, David Niven delivers a masterful performance. His snobbish personality and cleverness shine through in everything he says and every action he takes. Fogg's cleverness radiates through the major dramatic actions. There is consistently a good balance of fun and adventure along with the major plot going on. Don't forgot, the ensemble. I don't think any one movie has ever assembled such an infamous cast of extras. People ranging from Frank Sinatra to Cesar Romero to Meredith Dietrich to Kit Carson starred in this movie. The cast of extras is an example of the fine touches this movie uses to heighten an already successful book, making it a masterpiece.
I came into this film with quite high expectations, having read the book and
having a high regard for Niven's abilities on screen...however I was highly
The film is a contradiction in itself - it is too shallow and Fogg appears to leap from one place to the next without really invoking any feeling for where he's at; but it is also too slow and unfocused on what it does include (like that Spanish Flamenco dance that seems to go on for sooooo long).
There is very little character development (and in a film that is three hours long you really do need it), so much so I was hoping that by the time Fogg got to America he would sell Princess and his annoying little Butler to the Indians in return for a script.
True, the photography is outstanding, but a high budget and pretty pictures does not a good film make, as they say. And the bizarre psychadelic credits at the end? How does that conjure up a nice image of Victoriana? Which leads me to conclude that the whole film was an utter mess, not knowing where it wanted to go, how long to stay there and how to communicate it, despite the pots of money that must have been thrown its way. Even trying to place this picture in its original context, I still cannot see why it ended up quite like this.
Spotting the stars was fun, spotting the script was not.
For a big, bloated Hollywood excuse to show 50 or 60 cameos it's not the
worst thing on film. I enjoyed spotting all the stars, but the overall
purpose for this movie escapes me.
This movie is in need of some serious editing. There was no reason to show five minutes of a flamenco dancer or six minutes of bullfighting or eight minutes of the French countryside from above, etc. No doubt the footage is impressive in and of itself, but these scenes as they are do not belong in this movie. It's shocking, actually, how terribly put together it is.
It has its moments, like the cargo ship sequence, and Shirley MacLaine is beautiful, and Cantinflas is sometimes amazing as the non-specific European sidekick (is he Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese?). But it is way too long and there are too many tedious sequences.
With a project this ambitious, it probably should not be much of a
surprise if some of it works very well while other portions are less
effective. It's the kind of grand-scale movie that is so often highly
acclaimed in its own day, regardless of what weaknesses it might have.
It does have some very satisfying and entertaining sequences, yet
overall the quality is uneven.
There's no question that much of Jules Verne's story readily lends itself to the screen, and a somewhat less indulgent production might have made for a pretty good movie. A number of the sequences just go on a little too long, neither advancing the story nor providing much in the way of entertainment or thematic content. The story in itself is an interesting one, and the film works best when it stays on track.
It's fun, of course, just to watch and try to catch all the cameo appearances. A few of them seem to have been forced into the script just to boost the total, but others work well. It's also enjoyable to see the footage from Méliès's "Trip to the Moon", although after that the prologue ends up dragging on a little too long.
There's more than enough here to make it worth seeing, and it is usually enjoyable - it's just that it's too long and sometimes a little too much, and a less lavish approach would probably have made it better.
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