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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Jules Verne wrote his novel first published his novel in 1863, he drew on two topics that were trending at the time - an interest in the dark secrets of Africa and the then current vogue for hot air ballooning. He would revisit these two topics to some degree nine years later in "Around the World in 80 Days". See more »
Although the teapot was clearly not in Sir Henry's possession when the Arabs captured them at the oasis, by the time they ended up in the prison it mysteriously appeared wrapped up in his jacket. See more »
I well remember seeing Five Weeks In A Balloon in theaters as a lad and after Fabian made his appearance peeking through the cabin door of the balloon, the squeals from his teenage fans pretty much drowned out the soundtrack the rest of the film. When I got to see it later on television I found it to be an unassuming film, a nice adaption of Jules Verne's story, but one strictly for the kid trade.
It seems a pity to waste the literate voices of Cedric Hardwicke and Richard Haydn and Herbert Marshall on screaming teenyboppers. Not to mention the comic talents of Red Buttons. Still that's what happened because the audience this film drew was for that pompadoured kid from Philadelphia.
The United Kingdom has always prided itself on the fact that it was the first of western nations to outlaw the slave trade. So couched in those terms, its imperial ambitions in Africa seem almost noble in Five Weeks In A Balloon. Cedric Hardwicke is a balloonist who's invented an early form of gas propulsion with which his assistant Fabian helps him. He's planning to do some exploring of East Africa in and around Zanzibar. But Her Majesty in the form of Prime Minister Herbert Marshall calls on Hardwicke to undertake a 4000 mile journey across Africa to get to the Upper Volta to beat a gang of slave traders of an unknown nation and plant the flag for good old Britain.
Making the trip with them are Richard Haydn representing the Crown and Red Buttons as a neutral American observer and reporter. Buttons is a walking train wreck as he gets them in one scrape after another. Red does redeem himself in the end however.
Along the way this merry bunch picks up two women rescued from the clutches of slavery, Barbaras Luna and Eden and a slave-trader played by Peter Lorre. Lorre has the best lines in the whole film, he actually manages to see 'kismet, we are doomed' a few times without cracking up.
Richard Haydn is usually a very funny guy, but in this film he's down right annoying. Playing his usual fussbudget character, you kind of wonder is this the type of man who helped put together an Empire upon which the sun never set.
Five Weeks In A Balloon is a nice film, but sad to say this cinema version of Jules Verne is strictly for the juveniles or for those who have a thing for Fabian.
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