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Based on the Jules Verne novel of the same name, the movie is an
enjoyable adventure that the whole family can watch. David Niven put on
a wonderful performance as wealthy Phileas Fogg, the staunchly English
adventurer who wagers with his friends at the Reform Club that he can
travel around the world in 80 days - not an easy task in 1872, when the
movie is set. From that point on, we follow Fogg's adventures with his
valet Passepartout (Cantinflas) as they battle against time to win the
There's a good use of humour throughout the movie. In particular, I enjoyed several scenes which demonstrate the English insistence on tea time, whatever the circumstances. While perhaps not culturally accurate, the movie also tries to give a flavour of the places that Fogg visits on his journey. So we see a Spanish bullfight, an Indian religious procession, a Chinese dragon dance, an American election and a fight against the "redskins" during a train trip from San Francisco to New York. All in good fun, and all enjoyable. There are also a number of cameos included (Buster Keaton, Frank Sinatra, John Gielgud among others) so keep an eye on who you're watching.
The movie did slow to a crawl in a few places, mind you (I particularly think of the length of time we had to watch Fogg and Passepartout doing nothing in particular in the balloon.) However, overall the movie was quite enjoyable, if a little long at almost three hours. I don't know if this is an integral part of the movie or was just included on the version I saw, but this was worth watching if only for the first ten minutes or so, in which a narrator spoke about Jules Verne and then narrated the wonderful movie from the early 1900's based on Verne's story "A Trip To The Moon" as a lead-in to "... 80 Days."
1956 - what a time of freedom and crystal clean living (or was it?) I saw
this film at its London premiere in 1956 and then a few weeks later with the
school. It was one of the biggest movie events up until that time. A
"mega-colossal" production that truly lived up to expectations.
Mike Todd never set out to make a classic film. Entertainment was his game and ATWIED achieved just that - WITH just about the who's who of Hollywood at the time! It could even be said that Toddy himself gave birth to the "cameo" with this film.
It remains today the ultimate adventure trip, a cinematic beacon just dying to be crucified at the hands of someone like John McTiernan or maybe Tim Burton who with $200 million at their disposal surely come up with yet another mind-numbingly pathetic remake. What about Eric Idle as Phileas Fogg and maybe Heath Ledger in Cantinflas' old role. At least Sir John Gielgud is still around to lend the thing some class!
Superb childhood memories accompany this film and even for those who have never seen it, here is a flick will still wipe the floor with most anything you're likely to see at your local multi-screen complex!
This leisurely paced epic is jocular and is a cameo-appearance-watcher's
heaven. It's all a bit too top-heavy to support a rather simple story. But
Cantinflas is a lot of fun as Passepartout, and Robert Newton is marvelous
as Niven's nemesis, Fix. Shirley MacLaine lends her beauty and wit to the
proceedings as Princess Aouda. The film seems to stop for spectacular
cinematography and the cameos at times. But, it is still beautiful and
But, speaking of Newton and MacLaine, I must take IMDB to task for this one although I recognize they are merely copying from the film's cast list. Still, when one transforms from one medium to another, some judgment must be exercised. In order for the uninitiated to find out that Newton and MacLaine (two of the film's four major characters) are even in the film, one must click on the blue more button for additional cast members, One normally does not bother to do this because all one normally sees are credits for the likes of Jennifer Baliniczewski, Haley Tiresius, Forrest J. Ackerman, Zvi Frischman, and Skip Jackson.
Please IMDB, bring Newton and MacLaine up front with Niven and Cantinflas. The movie's top stars should be featured at the top. Then the rest can be listed alphabetically.
"Around the World in 80 Days" is a nice globetrotting romp, but it loses its excitement in a world where now people can travel the globe in mere hours. David Niven plays an excellent Phileas Fogg and Cantinflas is a refreshing new face showing off his Chaplin-esque abilities as Passepartout. As with many films of the 50's, "Around the World in 80 Days" is more of a spectacle than a film. Producer Todd and director Mike Anderson seem more focused on extravagance rather than plot. However, how much can be done when the goal is to follow Mr. Fogg through his wager-instigated journey? Overall, the film is a good one to save for a rainy day. Some aspects of the film are just unnecessary, such as Passepartout's seemingly unending bullfight or the Spanish flamenco dance. But these scenes are hardly a bother, especially with the neverending list of cameo appearances. Just playing "spot the star" is worth a viewing of the film.
Mike Todd created the movie cameo -- a big star in a bit part. But recognizing the stars in the little parts is just one element of the fun in the film, and even if the viewer doesn't recognize the stars, the film is still enjoyable. Jules Verne's classic is given royal treatment here, and we viewers are taken along for one of the most entertaining quick tours ever conceived. Even the closing credits, which are done as a cartoon retelling of the whole movie, are entertaining.
The thing that surprised me about this movie was how big this
production was. Thousands of extras and costumes and dozens of cameo's
in a trip around the world.
Unfortunately the movie has lost some of its power throughout the years. It is beginning to get outdated and it almost seems like a miracle these days that this movie has won 5 Oscar's including the one for best picture in 1957. Especially the pace is outdated, there are some endless long scene's that just don't seem to end and go on and on.
The movie is filled with cameo's (the first movie ever). But I'm ashamed to say that I hardly recognized anyone. We are talking about 1956 here, those who were big stars back then are now long since gone. The only one I recognized was Sir John Gielgud, no I even didn't recognized Frank Sinatra or Marlene Dietrich.
David Niven was in his element and was a great leading man. I can't say that I'm completely happy with the casting choice of Cantinflas as Passepartout but fortunately it doesn't ruin the movie in any way.
The story is great and adventurous, there are countless fun and entertaining moments in this epic production.
It only seems fit that they got Buster Keaton to conduct the train in Around the World in 80 Days. The little General rides again as Buster Keaton is honored with a cameo as his famous role as the train conductor in his early silent film THE GENERAL.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I clearly remember when this was released. The exotic locales and
numerous frustrating impediments to achieving the goal of
circumnavigating the world in 80 days, in 1872, by various conventional
and unconventional means, climaxed by the unexpected ending, provided a
generally exciting drama for a kid of those times. The cameo
appearances of various very well known or somewhat familiar actors
added to the appeal, as did the very memorable theme song. You have to
remember that nearly all TVs were B&W then, and travelogue programs
weren't that numerous.
This film was the baby of the innovative, compulsive gambling, Mike Todd: his only conventional feature film that he produced, which needed to be a big financial success to wipe out his massive debts from gambling and lavish lifestyle. Having previously financed a stage version of the subject, which was a big financial flop, he nearly went bankrupt before finishing this promising version. Having previously been involved in the commercialization of the 3-camera Cinerama film process, Todd had joined with American Optical Company to develop a single camera wide angle version, which included 6 sound tracts, dubbed Todd-AO, which was first used in the production of the spectacularly successful musical "Oklahoma". It's second use was for the present film. We can readily see the influence of Todd's experience with Cinerama in the splendid travelogue visuals.
In recent times, TCM has shown this film occasionally. I stopped to rewatch it in it's entirety. David Niven was, of course, perfect for the role of the unbelievably stiff, robotic, Fogg, who represents an extreme version of the time, speed, and money-obsessed modern man. Inexplicably, he hires his virtual opposite in the happy-go-lucky Latino Passepartout(Cantinflas) as his valet and traveling companion., who provides a window into various adventures in various exotic lands that the ever robotic Fogg couldn't provide....Robert Newton has a typical villain role, as a detective, who is sure Fogg was the mastermind behind a large Bank of London heist, the day before Fogg left on the journey. This clearly non-aristocratic sleuth is bent on foiling Fogg's attempt to circle the globe on time to win the prize, as well as arresting him at a convenient time. By forcing Fogg to spend a night in jail in London at the terminus of the journey, before learning that he was not the guilty party, Newton's Mr. Fix is finally clearly fingered as the chief villain of the tale, saved only by Cantinflas's subsequent discovery that it's a day earlier than Fogg assumed. This was Newton's last film role, after establishing himself as the archetypical pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy, in several pirate films. It was clear that his liver wouldn't hold out much longer. Too bad, as he was such a charismatic heavy.
As she later admitted, Shirley MacLaine was miscast as the very young Indian widow rescued by Fogg from being forced to burn to death atop her deceased husband's funeral pyre. She didn't look or speak anything like a typical Indian, and she contributed virtually nothing to the interest of the film, after her rescue by Continflas. True, her part was underwritten. The suggestion of a marriage with Fogg , at the end, looks problematic. She is grateful for his? rescue and addition to the traveling group. He seems agreeable, perhaps out of pity. I just wonder if a middle-aged man of his extreme type could alter his persona sufficiently to make an appealing mate, aside from his obvious wealth(of undetermined origin). Just what he normally did with his time is left unexplored.
Like the subsequent "Moon River", the theme song "Around the World" is a very memorable soothing inspirational waltz, which was played ad nauseam throughout the film as background, including multiple arrangements during the intermission. Unlike "Moon River", it very surprisingly wasn't nominated for Best Original Film Song. I suspect this is partly because no lyrics were sung during the film, although they soon appeared in various single recordings released. However, Victor Young did receive the Oscar for best original score in a non-musical, and since this was the only original song in the film, this serves as sort of a consolation award for the song. I consider it more addictive than "Moon River", and I'm sure it added significantly to the case for voting this as the best film of the year.
The section where the party is trying to make their way across the western US comes across as sort of a western, including several encounters with Native Americans while on a train, a loudmouthed trigger-happy pest in John Carridine, a near train wreck while crossing a rickety trestle being destroyed by flood waters, and an improvised sail--powered(supposedly) rail maintenance hand car, when no train was available in the near term. Incidentally, sail-powered rail cars were tried in the early days of rails, but proved impractical. Fogg's bunch presumably lucked out in having a steady prairie wind in the desired direction.
Incidentally, the aristocratic Reform Club, of which Fogg was a member, and which was the initiator of the prize for achieving his goal, is based upon a real London club, whose original purpose was to promote reform of the House of Commons, later to become a bastion of the Liberal Party.
Michael Anderson's film is justifiably memorable for its huge cast, its
memorable photography (by Lionel Linden), its catchy theme tune (Victor
Young), and its sheer brio. It remains producer Mike Todd's crowning
achievement, a lasting legacy for a showman whose life was brutally
curtailed by an air-crash in 1958. The epic is held together by two
memorable performances from David Niven as Phileas Fogg and Cantinflas
as his loyal servant Passepartout.
Structurally speaking, however, AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS is a mess. There are some memorable individual sequences - for example, at the beginning when Fogg makes a bet in London's Reform Club with his fellow-members (Finlay Currie, Ronald Squire, Trevor Howard, Basil Sydney); or the brief exchange at the domestic services agency involving Fogg's former manservant (John Gielgud) and the proprietor (Noel Coward). Later on Fogg has a memorable exchange with the Indian Peninsular Railway Official (Ronald Colman), in which the two actors compete for who can speak their lines in the best RP (Received Pronunciation) accent. Once Fogg crosses to the United States, he has another memorable encounter with a Barbary Coast saloon pianist (Frank Sinatra).
Yet such sequences are often separated by long stretches of film where nothing really happens: Passepartout has a long bull-fighting sequence, watched by Fogg and Achmed Abdullah (Gilbert Roland), that becomes tedious; likewise the funeral sequence where Fogg saves Princess Aouda (Shirley MacLaine) from death seems to be included simply to show off director Anderson's love of local color.
In the end the experience of watching the film becomes an exercise in identifying the stars playing cameo roles - for a film buff of the mid-twentieth century, this can be a fascinating experience, but perhaps not to most viewers' taste. Nonetheless, it's fun to see actors such as Robert Newton, Joe E. Brown, Peter Lorre, John Carradine, John Mills, Glynis Johns, Hermione Gingold and even Buster Keaton in cameo roles. If you blink too much, you might miss them.
David Niven doesn't have too much to do in this film, other than to reinvent his familiar screen persona as an urbane man-about-town, perpetually faced with the responsibility of taming his manservant's excesses. Nonetheless he does his task competently.
AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS is an exhausting experience to watch, but one that still communicates incidental pleasures, especially to viewers from an older generation.
Michael Todd's Around The World In Eighty Days is a generally
disregarded Best Picture winner, considered a throwaway epic that's
simply of its time, nothing more nothing less. It's neither considered
one of their best or worst choices. And while that mild legacy is
relatively accurate, it's actually an enduring entertaining experience.
It's thanks to its spright whimsical tone that exudes the timeless
spirit of adventure. Sure, its characters and cultures are
caricaturesque and utterly romanticised, of which would be interesting
to analyse those interpretations for film history studies despite the
inherent inaccuracies, but it's not exactly supposed to be raw and
authentic. Instead it's concerned with its grand scale, and it's a
total marvel. With dozens of huge locations, thousands of extras and an
anxious use of wide angle lenses, the proportions of which the story is
told are gargantuan.
While there's not much of a sense of time, it certainly results in a sense of distance. It's event cinema that's held its weight for near 60 years. Mexican star Cantinflas' Passepartout is the Chaplin-esque heart and soul of the film and elevates the whole project with his bravery, loyalty and dilemmas. Niven's stoic yet bold protagonist Fogg simply blends into the background, and is a mere vehicle for Passepartout, if not an overt one. The iconic score is the backbone of the film, setting the camp tone with an assortment of familiar anthems. Naturally, there's fundamental flaws with the story as it's bloated beyond comprehension and it's structure is inconsequentially episodic with its series of obstacles with little to no insight into the characters besides a brief flirtation with common loneliness. But above all, the film is a silly but endearing romp that doesn't take itself too seriously, lending it to being thoroughly accessible viewing.
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