When this movie is made in 1956, one could circumnavigate the globe in a little less than two days. When Jules Verne wrote the story "Around the World in Eighty Days" in 1872, he predicted that one day man could accomplish the task in eighty hours, but which most considered folly to do in eighty days in current times, that is except for people like Englishman Phileas Fogg, a regimented man who believed all it would take is exacting work, the skills he possesses. He just has to make sure a train's schedule meets the required sailing schedule which meets the required coach schedule and so on. As such, he takes up what ends up being the highly publicized twenty thousand pounds sterling wager from his fellow members at the London Reform Club to do so, losing the bet which would ruin him financially. Along for the ride is Fogg's new, loyal and devoted valet, the recently arrived Latin immigrant, Passepartout, who possesses unusual skills which could be major assets, but whose all consuming...Written by
(Mag-optical) (35 mm prints) (1956)|Mono
(optical) (35 mm prints) (re-release prints)|70 mm 6-Track
(70 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)|4-Track Stereo
(Perspecta Sound encoding) (35 mm magnetic prints) (1956)
This movie used one hundred forty sets built at six Hollywood studios, as well as sets in England, Hong Kong, and Japan. It also set several records. The cast and crew flew over four million miles. Casting included 68,894 extras in thirteen countries, and 74,685 costumes were designed, made or rented for the movie. The 1,243 extras listed on the IMDb page (and in the original program book) were only the extras who worked on the movie in Hollywood. Ninety animal handlers managed 8,552 animals (3,800 sheep, 2,448 buffalo, 950 donkeys, 800 horses, 512 monkeys, 17 bulls, 15 elephants, six skunks, and four ostriches). See more »
At the unstable bridge, the engineer backs up the train to cross it at 30 mph. He doesn't back up far enough to accelerate to that speed. See more »
There are no opening credits. The film begins with 'Edward R. Murrow (I)' narrating a prologue showing the history of flight. Then, the actual story begins with no opening credits whatsoever. See more »
The DVD version of the film adds nearly 12 minutes of previously deleted material. Most prominently, a 4-minute scene with Cantinflas out-riding a group of Sioux on horseback after falling off the train. In previous versions, the scene ended after his falling off. Also, the full intermission, entr'acte, and exit music segments are re-instated. See more »
Around the World in 80 Days is part comedy and part demonstration of a new wide-screen process. I saw it in its original run at the old Rivoli Theater in New York, where the screen ran from 48th St. to 49th St. People gasped at the size of the screen when the curtains opened, before the film even got underway.
If you watch the new 16x9 DVD on anything less than a 50-inch television, the visual composition and the pacing are absolutely incomprehensible, and you're on your own to seize on the many little things that are there to entertain you. But as a whole, the film loses its reason for being when viewed on a conventional TV.
David Niven is unbeatable as Phileas Fogg, Shirley Maclaine is implausible but slyly humorous as the Princess, Robert Newton appears sober most of the time and hammy all of it as Inspector Fix.
Cantinflas is inexplicable as Passepartout, except perhaps as Mike Todd's attempt to corral the entire Latin American market. The Mexican comedian's English is very shaky; it slows him down, and his clarity comes and goes and makes me wonder if Paul Frees didn't replace a lot of his lines. At any rate, only in the seemingly improvised encounter with Red Skelton at a buffet does Cantinflas do anything remotely humorous, and there he's the straight man.
The cameos are fun, and if you're too young to know who all these geezers are, it's worth it to find out, and use the IMDb to track down the work that made them famous. I remember the shriek the original audience let out when the piano player was revealed to be Frank Sinatra.
Viewing the film now, I was most moved to see Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglan reunited in the engine room of the Henrietta, thirty years after they riveted the industry in "What Price Glory?" Buster Keaton concentrates really hard in his appearance as the train conductor, to excellent effect. A. E. Matthews gives a terrific acting lesson in saying "no" a half a dozen times in a London sequence.
Among the original bettors, locate Ronald Squire with the drooping mustache, hollow nasal baritone, and a slouching relaxation while performing that was a marvel - Rex Harrison publicly admired Ronald Squire's ease on stage all his life. In fact, Squire is so relaxed he makes someone like Dean Martin seem uptight.
So, this film is an unusual case - requiring patience for lots of little joys on the small screen, but making sense only on a large one.
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