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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>
It's a shame The 5th Dimension couldn't have written the theme song!
Before he gathered hordes of Hollywood A, B and C-list stars in overturned luxury liners and sky-high burning buildings, Irwin Allen gave the world a couple of colorful, simplistic, adventure films with casts full of name stars, past and present. This one concerns Hardwicke and his attempts to take his experimental hot air balloon to the edge of Africa and claim the territory for Great Britain before slave traders can do it first. Along for the ride are perky assistant Fabian, calamity-plagued reporter Buttons and uptight military man Haydn. They are soon joined by runaway slave Luna and shady slave trader Lorre and one of his recent captives Eden. Together, they brave various dangers such as outraged natives, drunken sheiks, sandstorms and waterfalls (nearly every Allen film ever made includes some type of natural threat.) The film is simple-minded, non-think entertainment made watchable by it's pallet of stars and it's varying locales. Hardwicke, wearing a fluffy wig and with his pants up near his nipples, is a long way off from "The Ten Commandments" and other, greater roles. Seeing him paired with Fabian (!) is about the most unexpected teaming imaginable. Fabian, with his adorable 5-inch-high pompadour, looks cute throughout, but is saddled with a hilariously awkward title song that he sings more than once. Apparently his accordion lessons only got him that far. Another surprising pair is that of Buttons and Eden. He is a charming character actor, but has no business headlining an adventure film! That's what an early Oscar win can do for (or to!) a career, though. He acquits himself fairly well, however. Eden is free of the overstated qualities that she brought to "I Dream of Jeannie" and is refreshingly subdued and attractive. Haydn gives a very stylized, mannered performance that may baffle those more familiar with his chummy Uncle Max character from "The Sound of Music". His inflection does begin to grate after a while. Lorre manages to toss off a few dry witticisms in one of his last roles. Luna, trotting around in an abbreviated costume and a teased hairdo, is mere decoration. In case all these people weren't wacky enough, there's a female chimpanzee on board! Several famed actors pop up in cameo roles. An ill-looking Marshall has a bit as The Prime Minister and legendarily tart Daniell has a role as a Sheik. Most of the Arabian characters are portrayed by white men in make-up, which was customary at the time. Logistical oddities and camp factors abound. The balloon can barely get off the ground with just four men at the beginning (half the luggage gets tossed), yet before long there's seven passengers and a monkey on it! Watch for the screamingly funny scene in which Eden, running across a perfectly flat, open field, manages to trip over the lone branch that has fallen in the way. All those oranges gone to waste! The humor is pretty lame and the situations are hardly realistic, yet somehow the cornball movie winds up being fairly entertaining.
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