Friday, 6 December 2013

Around the World in 80 Days


Michael Anderson

David Niven, Cantiflas, Finlay Currie, Shirley MacLain, Robert Newton, Robert Morley, Ronald Squire, Basil Sydney, Noel Coward, Buster Keaton, Noel Coward, Cedric Hardwick, George Raft, Charles Coburn, Marlene Dietrich, Peter Lorre, Frank Sinatra and John Carradine

4 and up

In Victorian England, in the Reform Club, Phineas Fogg (Niven) makes a bet that he can go around the world in 80 days. Is it possible? He and his newly-appointed French manservant Passepartout (Cantiflas), who was previously a gymnastics teacher, set off for Marseilles. Travelling to Spain on a balloon, a boat to Marseilles, a cruise to Suez, a steamship to Bombay, a train cross India, a steamship to Hong Kong, another ship to Yokohama, a ship to USA, another train cross the continent and a steamship to Britain was the original eighty-day plan. However, he faces several set-backs, including being suspected for robbery by a detective (Newton), falling in love with an Indian princess (McLain), missing a ship, missing a train, and later, being arrested. Will he make it?  

Still of (from left): Shirley MacLain, Robert Newton, David Niven and Cantiflas after missing a train cross America 

Why it’s good
Naturally, it is the most action-packed comedy about two people travelling round the world. Thus, it might as well be the Best Picture of 1956. It was, anyways.
This is one of the most big-budget great adventure films ever, and the film is easy enough to understand by any child, even if they do not get some parts. It is one of the greatest adaptations of a Jules Verne novel – one cannot argue more.

Numerous old stars appear in this film, with a star-studded cast. Buster Keaton, a silent film comedian, appears as the Train conductor in America. Marlene Dietrich plays the woman reading a menu in the San Francisco restaurant. Ex-gangster film actor plays Dietrich’s boyfriend, while in the same scene, Frank Sinatra plays the piano. Charles Boyer appears as a Parisian clerk, Charles Coburn as a Hong Kong clerk and Ronald Colman as a official on India’s railway. Cedric Hardwick, the all-rounded knighted British actor, appears on a train in India, and the Casablanca (1942) actor, Peter Lorre, appears as a Japanese waiter. To be honest, most of the film is a lot of cultural stuff. Showing loads of contrast, why not call it Around the Day in Eighty Worlds?

The barge seen in the scene on the steamship from Calcutta to Hong Kong actually belonged to producer Michael Todd. It was the King of Thailand who lent it to him.

If you like this…
The 2004 version starring Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan isn’t very similar to the 1956 version. It is about a Chinese thief (Chan) who steals a valuable jade Buddha, seeks refuge under Fogg, and then a major display of martial arts.  

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