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Five Weeks in a Balloon (1962)

In 1862, the British commission inventor Fergusson to claim uncharted land in West Africa for Britain by flying his giant hot air balloon there.

Director:

Irwin Allen

Writers:

Jules Verne (novel), Charles Bennett (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Red Buttons ... Donald O'Shay
Fabian ... Jacques
Barbara Eden ... Susan Gale
Cedric Hardwicke ... Fergusson
Peter Lorre ... Ahmed
Richard Haydn ... Sir Henry Vining
BarBara Luna ... Makia (as Barbara Luna)
Billy Gilbert ... Sultan / Auctioneer
Herbert Marshall ... The Prime Minister
Reginald Owen ... Consul
Henry Daniell ... Sheik Ageiba
Mike Mazurki ... Slave Captain
Alan Caillou ... Inspector
Ben Astar ... Myanga
Raymond Bailey ... Randolph
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Storyline

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 <djk@xnet.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It's High Adventure and a Skyful of Fun! See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild violence and thematic elements | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Peter Lorre appeared in three films based on novels by Jules Verne: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Around the World in 80 Days (1956), and Five Weeks in a Balloon. The latter two also featured Sir Cedric Hardwicke. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Sheik Ageiba: [to Fergusson] In Timbuktu it is much safer to be a villain than an infidel.
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Connections

Version of 5 Weeks in a Balloon (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

Five Weeks In A Balloon
Written by Urban Thielmann (uncredited) and Jodi Desmond
Sung by The Brothers Four
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User Reviews

Pretty Forgettable for all That
11 December 2004 | by theowinthropSee all my reviews

I remember when this film came out in 1962. It was one of the first motion pictures that used television to advertise it's scenes and cast and excitement (including it's theme song). And the film did moderately well if at all.

Jules Verne had written several failed plays (boulevard farces) and a few short stories before this novel was written. Taking advantage of current interest in African exploration (the brouhaha regarding Burton and Speke and the source of the Nile - see THE MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON - as well as the discoveries of the first gorilla by French explorer Paul du Chaillu), Verne joined this to the growing interest in ballooning, and man's conquest of the air. The book was Verne's first published novel, and it turned out to be a success. Ironically, despite it's title mentioning "balloons", most people now think that Verne's ballooning novel is AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS. While that is a better written novel (and a more frequently read one) there is no scene in it of Phileas Fogg and Passepartout flying in a balloon. In fact, the first time the heroes of AROUND THE WORLD met ballooning was in the 1957 film. Mike Todd invented the sequence (with an assist by his script writers) to remind the movie audience of Verne as father of modern science fiction.

For a first novel FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON is okay. Professor Samuel Ferguson and two companions decide to do some explorations of Africa by flying a balloon from Zanzibar (where Burton and Speke took off from) and flying westward. They succeed in crossing the continent, and their observations about Africa (it's peoples, flowers, fauna, etc.) mingle with various adventures by the balloonists. In comparison with later novels by Verne it is fairly tame - it is hard to believe he wrote A JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (1864) only one year later. He was improving by then, but he had to start somewhere.

The movie, despite many nice performances like Hardwicke as Ferguson, Red Buttons as a newspaper owner's spoiled son, Fabian, Peter Lorre (as a reformed villain), and Richard Haydn is not much better than a cute kid's film that gave employment to many character actors. It is nice to see Herbert Marshall in his last role as England's Prime Minister (Lord Palmerston?). He was not looking well, but he did give a nice brief performance - in fact it was necessary to help the pitiably weak plot of the novel. Fergusson is asked to assist the British Government in preventing a group of slavers from planting their flag on some important African territory - by planting the British flag there first. Fergusson agrees to this, and from time to time we actually see the slavers (led by Mike Mazurki) headed by land to the critical land spot. In the end they are defeated.

Because of the infantile direction of the script (Lorre has lines like "Kismet, we are doomed!") the film is never above serviceable for entertaining kids. It remains in my memory only because it was the first film I saw advertised on television that I remember. But I have never run back to the television to watch it on any rerun - if it has had any rerun. For all the famed character actors in it one feels that they wasted their talents on a slightly acceptable turkey.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 August 1962 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Five Weeks in a Balloon See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,340,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (35 mm optical prints)| 4-Track Stereo (35 mm magnetic prints)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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