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Around the World in Eighty Days
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Index 101 reviews in total 

Dated Production

6/10
Author: adamshl from United States
26 July 2010

When this film was first released, it had publicity galore. It got everyone talking about it, and its p/r campaign was full of flashy marketing. It's flamboyant producer, Mike Todd, dominated the spotlight, and his then marriage to Elizabeth Taylor helped to buoy this massive enterprise.

Unfortunately, the picture hasn't aged very well. When first viewed on the huge, pristine Tood A-O screen (specially set up in key cinemas) the overall visual effect was really quite thrilling. Now that the original screening technology is gone, the film is revealed to be more of an elaborate travelogue with added dramatic touches.

Cantinflas doesn't come off all that well, probably due to the language barrier. What foreign audiences saw in him may be based on their knowledge and appreciation of his foreign films.

I'll never forget the brazen quality of the film's Oscar celebration, with Todd renting out Madison Square Garden. A particular episode with Mike and Liz on a carriage-go-round, tossing out cake to the worshipful attendees, tends to stick in my memory bank of absurd past moments.

Still, all these are side line items; the real thing is the film, and on that score it now rates a grade of B-.

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Around the World in 80 Days....An Oscar Winner-Methinks Not ***

8/10
Author: edwagreen from United States
18 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Around the world, I've searched for you.

I traveled on when hope was gone for a rendez-vous.

Well, something like that in this 1956 so called movie. Wasn't this really a travelogue? This film should never have been in the best picture category. Yes, it had a phenomenal cast, but the plot was rather thin. It was as if this were being told in documentary form.

The Oscar here should have easily gone to "The Ten Commandments." Hands down. Even the other nominees including "The King and I," and "Friendly Persuasion," were far better. It just became a case of the academy in love with Mike Todd and the ever beautiful Liz Taylor, deciding to reward our dream couple.

David Niven and Cantiflas were standouts but the film was way too drawn out.

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Around the World in Eighty Days

7/10
Author: Jackson Booth-Millard from United Kingdom
8 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I will admit I saw the Disney/Jackie Chan remake before seeing this original, but this one feels completely different, and much more extravagant, from Oscar and Golden Globe nominated director Michael Anderson (Logan's Run). Basically not very emotional Phileas Fogg (David Niven) has a bet for his entire fortune with the Gentlemen's Club that he get around the world in 80 days. So with his faithful butler Passepartout (Golden Globe nominated Cantinflas), they begin their journey by hot air balloon to reach Paris, given to them by Thomas cook after missing their train to Marseilles. This balloon actually takes them to Spain, and they get their new transport on a ship with Passepartout's bullfighting skills. On their journey, they keep bumping into Mr. Fix (Robert Newton) who is trying to slow them down, or better yet stop the from succeeding. Next is the Indian jungles, where the butler's skills are needed again to rescue beautiful Princess Aouda (Shirley MacLaine) from being burned alive. Going on to Hong Kong, getting involved with a few drugs, and then to the United States of America, where the wild wild west kicks in with cowboys and Indians. Along the journey Fogg is keeping an eye on the schedule, and slowly he and the Princess are falling for each other, an emotion he wouldn't have expected. There is the point where they think they have reached day 80 and failed, but Fogg forgets the time changing from country to country, and manges to win the bet in the end, just in time. Also starring and with cameos from Noël Coward as Hesketh-Baggott, Trevor Howard as Denis Fallentin, Robert Morley as Gauthier Ralph, Charles Boyer as Monsieur Gasse, Marlene Dietrich as Saloon Hostess, Peter Lorre as Steward, Sir John Mills as Carriage Driver, Frank Sinatra as Saloon Pianist, John Carradine as Colonel Proctor Stamp, Buster Keaton as Train Conductor, Sir John Gielgud as Foster/Fosdyke, Batman's Cesar Romero as Achmed Abdullah's Henchman, Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Sir Francis Cromarty, Red Skelton as Drunk in Saloon and Mary Poppins' Glynis Johns as Sporting Lady's Companion, with prologue narration by Edward R. Murrow. It may be a little too long, but Niven and Cantinflas make a good travelling duo, the many cameo appearances make for good viewing, but the it is the location filming that ultimately dominates this adventure, with a vast array of countries and colours lighting up the screen. It won the Oscars for Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Music for Victor Young, Best Writing, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture, and it was nominated for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and Best Costume Design, and it won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama. Very good!

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its a long journey

6/10
Author: petersj-2 from Australia
7 September 2009

Actually I was rather disappointed seeing it again after so many years. David Niven is perfect and its fun watching and guessing who is who. The end credits are just wonderful. The film looks beautiful and the score is perfect. I love the fact the wide screen DVD has an overture and entracte. The exit music is lovely. The balloon sequence is the highlight of the film with its breath taking arial photography. The plot is confusing and sadly it plods along even though its not without merit. The most annoying aspect of the film is Cantiflas who may well have been famous in his own country simply has little screen presence and clumps along quite incoherently. Cantiflas slows the movie down, you cannot understand what he is saying and the bottom line is that he is just not funny. When you think of the great clown Red Skelton who was also in the cast you cannot help wondering how much better the movie would be with a real talent opposite Niven. It still remains quite lovely to look at.

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The fascination of the railway age

8/10
Author: L. Denis Brown (ldbrown1@shaw.ca) from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
14 July 2009

In 1954, now more than half a century ago, Mike Todd produced and directed this very fine film of the novel written by Jules Verne in 1872. It won many awards including five Oscars, and remains an outstanding work of art, but unfortunately it is not widely known to film enthusiasts today. At the time it was created the film industry felt itself threatened by colour television leading to film studio bosses launching wide-screen cinema, hopefully to differentiate 'artistic' cinema from 'plebeian' television. Progressively more exotic 'improved' wide-screen presentations became increasingly de rigeur for new films, and Mike himself was largely responsible for developing one of these, called Todd AO. This film was the second of only two that were released in this new format in its originally designed 30 f.p.s. mode. A small number of major cities had cinemas built to show such films in all their glory, but most of those who saw them when first released watched them in cinemas that, although adapted, seldom showed them as intended.

Quite spectacular at first sight, any letterbox format can unfortunately prove distressing when used for extended viewing.. Artists, who have more sensitivity to the acceptability of visual presentations than most people, probably create a majority of their images in portrait format. Works in landscape format come in a variety of aspect ratios, but these are never extreme. Only panoramic murals usually have aspect ratios comparable with wide-screen cinema images, and whilst they may be great art who would want to visit an art gallery simply to view murals? There is a reason for this - the work of the vast majority of artists is designed to occupy acceptance angles similar to those of the human eye because our brain has evolved to process the information in such images in a balanced way. We can handle an exceptional aspect ratio image once in a while without mental distress, but the continued presentation of extreme aspect ratio images causes mental stress that is quite incompatible with an entertainment medium. This has led to the creation of many very fine movies we do not want to view at home in their original 'letterbox' format, that only adapt with considerable difficulty for effective display on home video systems. Unfortunately "Around the World in 80 days" is one of these films.

We can easily understand what happened to this great film during the half century since it made its first dramatic impact on the entertainment scene of its day. TV is now struggling to develop its own near wide-screen presentations, whilst the true large screen cinema has given way to several small more intimate auditoria in which different films appealing to different audiences can be presented simultaneously, usually in formats just meeting bread and butter standards. It is quite amusing to look back on these changes, but unfortunately they were not kind to what was one of the great films of its decade. I am not interested in triviata, such as the fact that Mike Todd did not have modern computers to create his special effects. Regardless of such concerns, if properly presented, this remains a great film that can still 'knock the socks off' most of the junk we are invited to watch today, but for a considerable time it almost disappeared from circulation. Finally in 2004 Warner released a DVD version for home viewing, formatted with its original aspect ratio of 2.2 : 1. Whilst quite kindly received by critics, this DVD suffers severely from the original decision to use such an extreme visual presentation. DVD's can be viewed on a wide range of domestic equipment, but computer monitors usually provide better definition than standard TV receivers in small rooms, and my preferred choice at home is a wide-screen computer monitor with a 1.6 : 1 aspect ratio. Remembering watching the film when first released with something akin to awe, I bought a copy of this DVD, but found it very disappointing to watch. Its letterbox format is not designed to be viewed as a small image a few feet from where one is sitting, the composition of the image is far too complex - I finally concluded that my awed recollections must have been due to lower expectations when relatively young, - it could not be such a great film after all.

I did not watched the film again for a very long time, but this week I noticed there was a TV showing coming up on Encore Avenue. Initially I paid little attention, after all even my DVD had been a disappointment........... At the last minute I just wondered - perhaps this showing was based on the modified version which had been properly formatted for TV viewing. I turned it on with 2 minutes to spare - expecting to turn it off again almost immediately. Then joy of joys, I had a really good picture on the 1.6 : 1 computer monitor I use for TV viewing. I quickly turned the recorder on, and now at last I have a disk of this film to treasure. It is even better than I actually remembered, I was quite frankly amazed by how many clever little sequences I now remember savouring 50 years ago, which never even caught my eye when I was watching the DVD, again became clearly evident during this TV presentation.

If you have not seen this film delay no longer, the DVD is still obtainable at a cost of about $25; but unless you have a very expensive widescreen TV in a very large living room or home theatre, my advice is to steer well clear of it and buy one of the old VHS tapes that are still widely listed by mail order suppliers, often at prices as low as a buck.

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Todd Goes the Whole Hog

5/10
Author: wes-connors from Earth
29 June 2009

On a bet, 19th century British gentleman David Niven (as Phileas Fogg) and his Mexican servant Cantinflas (as Passepartout) circumnavigate the globe in eighty days. During the interminable running time, they rescue Indian impersonator Shirley MacLaine (as Princess Aouda) from a deadly traditional rite; and, they defend themselves against Robert Newton (as Mr. Fix), who thinks Niven stole some money.

Michael Todd definitely makes this film a TODD-AO spectacle. The expense shows. But, there is no strong, sustaining story or comedy. The main interest could be cameo-spotting. Don't pass the bar scene, with Marlene Dietrich, George Raft, Red Skeleton, and Frank Sinatra. Alas, you won't see Bing Crosby, Greta Garbo, or Elizabeth Taylor. The award-winning Victor Young soundtrack music is a major strength.

***** Around the World in Eighty Days (10/17/56) Michael Todd : Cantinflas, David Niven, Robert Newton, Shirley MacLaine

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Great sets

6/10
Author: kosmasp
13 April 2009

The set pieces are great, the actors seemed to have a lot of fun and I'm sure it sounded like a lot of fun on paper. Don't get me wrong, this movie has classic written all over it. Still it doesn't really cut it.

Why that is? While putting a more or less emotionless character (here a British one to fit the cliché) next to a lively one (again more or less a cliché) is a good idea, it doesn't work as well. The British character is just too emotionless and while they might have had great fun shooting the whole thing, it doesn't translate 100% on screen. It's a better sketch show, where some skits(countries) work and some just don't.

While the twist at the end is neat, it is not convincing and has many flaws. I can't go into them, without spoiling, just don't try to over think the whole thing and then it's quite enjoyable.

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Truly a must-see movie

9/10
Author: richard-1787 (richard@berrong.fr) from United States
18 September 2008

Never has a movie that does not depict its own times (in this case, the 1950s) had more to do with them. Watching this movie - which, to the best of my memory, I had never actually seen all the way through before - I was reminded of the lavishly-filmed travelogues that they used to show in movie theaters between pictures back in the 1950s. (World travel in those days was a LOT more expensive than it is now, so for most people travelogues were the only way they were going to see the world.) And that is what this movie is. The plot, which everyone knew, is strictly incidental, a framework on which to hang one magnificently filmed travelogue after the next. In that sense, it was a very original movie, and certainly deserved the Oscar for best picture, though the acting is at best incidental. This was a triumph of movie technology and inventive vision, not a dramatic work.

One could, I suppose, quibble about the treatment of Verne's text. Casting a Mexican comedian as the very French valet Passepartout did strike me as strange, for example. Sometimes he even forgot that he was playing a Frenchman and said Señor rather than Monsieur. And, of course, with his accent, which he made no attempt to disguise, no one was going to mistake him for French. Since Fernandel has one of the many cameos in this movie, I thought that he might have made a more "authentic" choice, as he was not just French but a great actor, both in drama and in comedy.

Still, this movie is just "based" on Verne's novel, not meant to be a faithful adaptation of it. Since Passepartout's nationality is only incidental to the action, it didn't really matter that he was so clearly not French. The same would apply to the other "infidelities" to the novel. The actual "purpose" of Verne's novel, however, not just this one but most of them, was to provide adventure-coated geography and history lessons to young boys. Verne's books were sold as educational, and Verne did do a lot of research for them. (He wasn't always good at making that research interesting; the long technical descriptions of underwater flora and fauna in 20000 Leagues under the Sea make for slow reading even for an adult.)In that sense this movie very much captures the spirit of the novel, even if it changes parts of it: it provides a VERY entertaining way of getting to know the visual wonders of the world.

This is truly a picture to be seen in a theater with a big screen, though. I enjoyed it on my TV, but kept thinking how much more overwhelming it would have been in a theater with a wide screen.

Treat yourself to it. It's pure entertainment, and very beautifully so.

--------------------

I saw it again on TCM today. The real star of this movie is the cinematography. Some of the shots and camera-work are really breathtaking.

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the Oscar must have been won for how the film plays on the BIG screen

6/10
Author: dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York
4 August 2008

Mike Todd's epic travelogue must have looked spectacular on huge screens of old, but on my 42 inch widescreen TV it was just okay. Yes I've seen the film before but only in pieces or cut up never had I seen it widescreen before, not had I seen in complete in at least a decade.. For the most part its an empty movie. Only Caniflas as Fogg's man servant has any real character since his is really the only person given anything to do.The film lurches from spectacle to spectacle with only the odd moment to get to know the characters. Its one of those movies that really makes you go "how did this win Best Picture?". Then again if I saw this in a theater with a huge screen I would have been floored...or not. Worth a look for the scenery and because it is a good film-though far from great.

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Spot the cameo in 5 Oscar winning epic.

7/10
Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
4 March 2008

Based on the wonderful writing from Jules Verne, Around the World in Eighty Days is just shy of three hours, this was my first ever visit to the film and my reaction is mainly positive, tho tempered with a small sense of unfulfillment.

Phileas Fogg takes a wager from his fellow London club members that he can't circle the globe in 80 days, this it should be noted is 1872 where transport was not of the fast and dynamic variety. Fogg and his trusty servant Passepartout, set off on a journey that brings many adventures, and many humorous scrapes. They meet a wonderful array of characters and travel on many forms of transport, it is in short a magical journey.

The production here from Mike Todd is gargantuan, the sets are incredible, the multiple locations befit the multi cast of actors that grace the film {have fun playing spot the star in this one}. The costumes and the score are spot on, while Lionel Lindon's cinematography rightly won the gold award because it's lush and cloaks the delightful story with a number of treats for the eyes. David Niven is perfect as Fogg, whilst Cantinflas as Passepartout is perfect foil for Fogg's staid stiff upper lippery.

Yet in spite of it's obvious beauty the film is a touch overlong, some scenes are padded far too much when surely a shorter take would of made it's mark more than enough? I was surprised by the ending being so short and sweet, yes, sure it's fitting, but after sitting thru just under 3 hours of film you are not being unreasonable to expect a grand fanfare type of ending. Still, it doesn't take away from this being a good cinematic achievement. As to if it stands up to repeat viewings? I'll have to see on that one..... 7.5/10

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