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It's really amazing how so many critics and reviewers are stupid in underrating this movie.. If those morons have not found out yet that the main element of it is fun, they never will.. Much better an adventure movie than even so called classics like The Wizard Of Oz .. As a child watching the movie was exhilarating and it's like a 2 hour trip through history.. a great movie
I recently re-read the book, "Around the World In Eighty Days," and was
surprised at how few liberties were taken with the plot of this movie
(the largest being the famous ascent in a balloon which never occurred
in the book). S.J. Perleman, one of my favorite authors, wrote the
screenplay, which won an academy award, and he certainly deserved it,
for he hit the tone of the novel dead on.
The casting, in most cases, was dead-on, David Niven making a perfect Fogg. Cantinflas was also excellent as Passepartout, even though they had to change his nationality from French to Spanish. The only really big problem came from casting Shirley MacLaine as an Indian princess.
As stated before, the tone of the movie (if not the entire plot) was very true to the book. The jokes were understated and had an earnest gentility about them which was very common in movies from the fifties and early sixties.
I think the biggest problems of this movie were the movie's two principle gimmicks. The first were the guest stars. A sampling of some of the most famous actors of the day made cameos in the movie. To get some of the "in" jokes, you had to really know who these people were (which would be the case with most audiences from 1956), however these days, either the actors have faded into obscurity, or we have become so used to seeing these people aged forty or fifty years, that its hard to recognize their younger selves (like Frank Sinatra's cameo, for example).
The second big problem was that the movie was filmed in cinemascope, which meant letterbox format, as opposed to the square format in which more of the less expensive movies were filmed. I suspect, in order to get their money's worth out of this technique, and to make this movie more of a "spectactle," the movie has been crammed with tons of shots of nothing more than the picturesque scenery of the countries through which Fogg and Passepartout are passing. This was probably a big deal at the time, but today seeing scenery shots of foreign countries is nothing new. On many of the versions of the movie that have been circulating, these have been edited out, however they have been restored to the DVD version. I have to say that the first time I saw the unedited version, I found them kind of boring. This shouldn't keep you from watching the DVD though, since its easy enough to skip past the scenery.
All in all, one of my favorite movies.
Elaborate, star-studded adaptation of Jules Verne's story about adventure-filled global journey for a fussy Britisher and his valet. Long but occasionally energetic piece with beautiful balloon-flight sequences in the first half, but the second and third portions fall off considerably. David Niven's stuffed-shirt becomes annoying after a time, but Cantinflas(as Niven's gentleman's gentleman)is wonderful. Oscar winner for Best Picture, Best Scoring, Best Editing, and Best Screenplay; the latter seems the least convincing, as the film's exhaustion seems directly tied to the flagging script, not the handling or most of the players. ** from ****
Okay. Everyone's either heard of the story or has actually read it, but if
not, here it is: Phineas Fogg makes a wager with his bridge buddies that he
can make it around the world in 80 days (hence, the title.) So he and his
servant, Passparetout, set out around the world, save a princess, get chased
by a detective who thinks Fogg is a bank robber, and end up flying in a
balloon (Well, maybe not in that order.)
The first time I saw this film was when I was in 2nd grade. Even then, I knew how great it was, and I still remember it fondly. Films like this were meant to appear in widescreen format. It starts off with an introduction by the very informative Edward R. Murrow, telling the audience about how Jules Verne was very prophetic, and they show the dlightful little film by George Melies of "From the Earth to the Moon". The acting is some of the best ever. David Niven, the quintessential gentleman, was born to play the role of Phineas Fogg (he later even said he would have played the role for nothing!) Cantiflas, an award-winner for his role of Passparetout, is equally good, although a flash in the pan. Where are you, Cantiflas? Shirley McLaine makes an early appearance in her career as Princess Auoda, and she still shows her pixie-like charm she has in "The Apartment". And Robert Newton, who played Detective Fix, is wonderfully sinister, but like Cantiflas, he never did anything else memorable besides playing Captain Hook in "Treasure Island". Oh, and there's lots of cameos (Frank Sinatra, Andy Devine, John Carradine, Cesar Romero to name a few) but too many to count. (This was the first film to have cameos, by the way.) Other award winners include the writing, which owes it humor to the fact that one of the writers (James Poe, John Farrow, and J.S. Perelman) wrote for the Marx brothers. The music by Victor Young is bright, maginifcent, beautiful . . . all good adjectives come to mind. And Lionel Lindon ("The Manchurian Candidate") has some of the best cinematography ever to be shown on the screen (this was before the days of computer generation, of course, when they actually went to 11 countries to film on location.) And the credits, by Saul Bass, are, like many people who have commented on this have said, are extremely entertaining in their re-telling of the movie.
This has got to be one of the best Oscar-Winners of all time. It's right up there with Casablanca and Gone with the Wind. It's a shame that this was showman Michael Todd's only film. Lord knows what he would have brought us if it weren't for that fatal plane crash.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have to put myself in the group who don't really find this movie that
good. The story is a classic, David Niven does his usual ultra-British
character (and he is good at it) and Cantinflas makes a great
Passpartout, but the movie has a very low pace.
We already know the whole story (right?) so what can the movie give us? I guess it can be watched like we watch "Lord of the rings": to get a stunning visual representation of the book. "Around the World in Eighty Days" doesn't fail in that respect.
Scenery is generally great, acting is generally not. Except for Cantinflas (who, again, is superb, although somewhat over-used, like the tedious bullfighting), the only actors who do their roles well are the straight British, Niven, club members, servants. In other parts of the movies, many actors perform poorly.
The movie has many great stars (some now forgotten), including Buster Keaton and Frank Sinatra. That is usually a bad sign, and indeed they add little to the movie, but are rather distractions. Sinatras appearance is a pure cameo appearance, while Buster Keaton does a Train Conductor, stone-faced as he should, but he isn't funny. A very young Shirley McLaine is almost impossible to recognize until rather late, but I'm not sure if she was considered a star at the time. That made her the most enjoyable and challenging star-spotting. Spotting her is easy, actually recognizing is harder.
If you don't mind the slow pace with many way too long scenes, the movie delivers much beauty as well as some dry British style. I understand that that can be appreciated. I could not keep up my interest for quite that long. With some shortening (not that much really) it would win much.
I remember liking this film well enough when it came out but it doesn't
wear well at all. Almost all the scenes are too long (such as Mr.
Greco's flamenco and Cantinflas' bullfight), the lines are stilted and
the characters are cardboard. Shirley as an Indian princess? Oh please!
In all fairness, early in her career, they probably didn't know what to do with Ms. Maclaine.
There is the scene where the saloon pianist turns around slowly and reveals himself to be: (ta da!) Frank Sinatra. What a thrill!
The version I saw was the letterboxed one shown on AMC and I enjoyed Robert Osbourne's comments more than the film. Seen with stereo sound, it gives an o.k. approximation of the original even without the original Todd-AO widescreen process.
Pretty but empty!
6 out of 10.
"Around the World in 80 Days" recreates the sensation of looking
through someone else's vacation pictures. Some of them may be pretty,
but by the time you've seen your fifth picture of palm trees and sand,
you're ready to move on.
This movie existed solely as a big F*** YOU to the television industry and the threat it was making to film box office in the mid-50s. Hollywood wanted to show what film could do that T.V. couldn't, which meant BIG films in exotic locations on enormous screens. Unfortunately, these added "benefits" came at the expense of just about everything else that makes films good -- pacing, character development, dramatic tension, etc.
David Niven sleepwalks through this film, Cantinflas is only slightly less irritating that Roberto Benigni, and spotting celebrity cameos may keep you interested for the first half hour, but they're not the hook on which to hang a three-hour movie.
Think of all the things you could do in three hours and do any of them instead of watching this film.
With the exception of "On the Waterfront" the Academy went out of its way during the fifties to award the Best Picture Oscar to movies that were safe, family friendly, non-controversial, non thought provoking and politically neutral . " Around The World in 80 Days" is no exception. Basically, this is just a 3 hour travelogue with pretty photography and alot of over the hill actors in cameo roles. Read the book by Jules Verne instead and skip this turkey. Even on a big screen, its not worth wasting 3 hours of your life.
What astounds me is how things change. Here's a film that was
celebrated in its day.
In fact, I remember my third grade class taking the day off to go to this. (The year previously, we had gone to see a Cinerama movie in the same theater.) We had reserved seats and popcorn was disallowed. We sat through maybe 20 minutes of overture, three hours of movie and 20 minutes of intermission.
And I loved it. This was a lifealtering experience, so grand, so exotic. And yes, for a seven year old, romantic.
Everyone loved it. In its day, most everyone got caught up in the sheer audacity of thing, the cinematic scope, the number of stars and extras, the locales (which we thought were genuine). The introduction by Ed Murrow seemed apt for something so newsworthy.
I haven't seen it in 50 years. And now, even in the full ToddAO experience it is dull except for the wonderfully bombastic score. There's really nothing to it except that it exists.
It reminds that many films I see, new and old, depend on context. The new ones are simple. Things we get excited about now will seem juvenile in just a short time. "Die Hard" was eclipsed on its own terms in short order. "Speed" even more so.
But the old ones...
Sometimes they are so strongly evocative of an era that watching them pulls us into that era, giving us a whole world by association. Others cannot pull us, or aren't set up to, but are so weak they fall apart. Its a slippery game, watching old movies.
But in this case, it is simple. Big bowl thin soup. But a grandly shaped bowl.
Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
From the Jules Verne book, Englishman Phileas Fogg (David Niven)
accepts a bet from his fellow Reform Club members to travel around the
world in 80 days putting up £20k. Passepartout (Cantinflas) comes
looking for a job and becomes his valet for the trip. The Bank of
England has been robbed of £55k. Inspector Fix (Robert Newton) believes
that Fogg had stolen the money and follows him in pursuit. It's a wild
ride across the globe. On the way, they rescue Indian Princess Aouda
(Shirley MacLaine) who joins them on their quest.
Without a doubt, this is a grand movie with lots of footage from all around the world. It was probably quite an eye opener for its time. With the exception of these exotic footage, the movie is a slow, prodding, unfunny affair. The trip is monotonous. A lot of it is wild, some are insane while others border on racist. I guess people actually believed that ostriches pulled carts in HongKong back in the day. However one must admire the daring it took to make such an impossible film.
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