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Professor Fergusson plans to make aviation history by making his way across Africa by balloon. He plans to claim uncharted territories in West Africa as proof of his inventions worth. Written by
Dennis Kytasaari <email@example.com>
No doubt we'll probably cringe a little at the portrayals of non-white people in "Five Weeks in a Balloon": the Arabs are slave traders and the Africans dance around in loin cloths and carry spears. Of course, Jules Verne wrote the novel, so we can't totally blame the movie for the portrayals. So if we can get past these depictions, it's a perfectly entertaining experience. The movie portrays English scientist Cedric Hardwicke inventing a balloon-powered dirigible and having to fly to West Africa to stop slave traders (as if the British weren't doing creepy things in their own colonies?). He brings along military man Richard Haydn, young Canadian guy Fabian, and accident-prone American reporter Red Buttons. Through numerous stops, they pick up freed slave Barbara Luna, slave trader Peter Lorre, American teacher Barbara Eden, and chimpanzee Chester.
The characters come across as a real mixture. Most of the cast members do a good job, but Fabian seems out of place, Red Buttons's role just seems silly, and Barbara Luna has little more than her looks (I've never read the novel, so I can't comment on possible changes). In almost any other movie, this combo would drag the whole thing down significantly, but not here; if anything, it makes the picture more entertaining. Even if there's a lot of continuity errors and such things, it's impossible not to have fun while watching "FWIAB". Also starring Herbert Marshall, Billy Gilbert, Henry Daniell and Mike Mazurki (Gilbert and Daniell previously co-starred in "The Great Dictator").
One more thing. Among the DVD's special features is footage from the movie's debut in Denver. One of the best things about this footage is that we get to see Barbara Eden in a shell dress! Such a sight, in my opinion, means that there is a God! Aside from her Jeannie outfit, a shell dress is the only thing that I can imagine Barbara Eden wearing. If these sorts of thoughts make me a pervert, then I'm proud to be one.
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