Movie Club: Around The World In 80 Days

Discussion in 'Introductions & Off Topic' started by LiamABC, Jun 1, 2018.

  1. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend


    This week's movie is the 1956 extravaganza "Around The World In 80 Days" - winner of several Oscars including Best Picture.

    Remember any ideas for films to discuss are most welcome, and should be made on the Movie Club Introduction thread (the sticky one).

    Just a friendly reminder to everyone that, whilst fans are obviously welcome to passionately discuss and give their views on these episodes, please remember to keep things on a friendly footing and respect your fellow posters.
    Also, please do not post where or how to find the full movie online. And do not post asking others to PM it to you. You are however allowed to watch the movie in whatever manner you want.
  2. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    What a great film!
    This was my first time seeing this film.
    Great cast of characters. All the actors were great in their roles.
    I will agree with @LiamABC that David Niven was excellent as Fogg.
    There was a lot of great scenes especially the scenes with the hot air balloon, the bull fight and the train.
    One thing I really loved about the movie is the photography. So many beautiful stunning shots of the different landscapes.
    I would definitely watch this again and get it on DVD for my collection.
    I really must get around to reading the book of Around the World in 80 Days as I bought it a few years ago. I also really need to get around to re-watching all of Willy Fog. That was a great cartoon.
    LiamABC likes this.
  3. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    This is a great film of a great book.

    Remembering that the book was written by Jules Verne, the version I have might be a slightly clunky translation, but still, the story is compelling. Verne absolutely nailed the English stereotypes in the book, and they come across well in the film too. Moreover, the plot point at the end is still valid even now - it's the sort of detail that you naturally would forget about under the circumstances, although of course nowadays modern technology would probably enable you to discover the truth more quickly.

    This film was producer Michael Todd's only film - he was killed in a plane crash a couple of years after (making him the only husband that Elizabeth Taylor didn't divorce!) - and it won the Oscar for Best Picture (as well as Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Music, Best Cinematography and Best Editing), giving him the best "batting average" of any producer in history.

    Todd wasn't the only person who made his final film with this one. Robert Newton as Inspector Fix died of a heart attack, some months before the film's release. He's best known today for single-handedly inventing "the pirate voice", in his portrayal of Long John Silver in the film of Treasure Island a few years earlier, and you can sort of hear a bit of that here in Fix, who follows Fogg around the world, believing him to be the bank robber the police are looking for (another great plot point in the book, and explored a little more deeply in the text). He's technically the villain of the piece, but at the same time, he bears no personal malice towards his prey - he's just doing a job, following in good faith a man he believes to be a wanted criminal.

    I've just looked up the Oscar details, and to see that David Niven wasn't even nominated for Best Actor is scandalous. He later said on record that it was his favourite part out of every role he ever played, and just watching it you can see why. He isn't just playing Phileas Fogg, he IS Phileas Fogg. Anyone who has read the book can see that David Niven portrays him exactly as written by Verne.

    Also worth mentioning is Cantinflas, apparently at the time the wealthiest and most independent actor in the world (and given that this was his first English language film, this speaks volumes). As a Mexican, he was perhaps an odd choice to play the French sidekick Passepartout, but somehow it worked. The bullfighting scene, and some others, were added into the film to show him off more. The entire balloon/Spain sequence is not in the book, but it doesn't really matter, because it works well enough. That's what I have always said about changes in films - you have to judge them not on the basic fact of their being a change from the book, but on whether or not it works in context.

    Shirley MacLaine was pretty much an unknown at this point, but did a very good job as Princess Aouda, struggling to express her gratitude to a man as stoic as Phileas Fogg was a tricky part to play, but she was never less than believable. She's one of only two cast members still alive - the other is one of the multitude of cameos (more on that later), namely Glynis Johns, who I know from playing Diane's mother in an episode of Cheers over a quarter of a century later!

    As for the cameos - this film was the film that coined the term "cameo role" - to accommodate the dozens of big names playing very small parts. Some you'll have heard of, some you won't. Some of those cameos are slightly bigger than others, mainly the English characters, namely the other members of the Reform Club, and arguably Cedric Hardwicke as General Cromarty who accompanies Fogg and co. on the Indian part of the journey. But the list of names is impressive - Buster Keaton, Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich, John Mills, Noel Coward, and last but not least, Edward R. Murrow who introduces the film with a talk about how times have changed since the book was written.

    The changing of the times incidentally was also explored in an episode of The Phil Silvers Show (aka Sgt Bilko), where Bilko has the idea of a trip around the world by air as a package in 80 hours! Michael Todd appeared in this episode as himself.

    The cameos also created a possible problem for the film's credits - after all, so many big names in small parts, what do you do? What Michael Todd did was sheer genius, because the credits are something that in this instance, you really do have to watch. The credits re-tell the whole story in about six minutes, and thus enable them to list the entire cast in order of appearance without causing any offence to people's egos.

    This is one of those films that I may not watch often, but when I do, it always has me enthralled. It's nearly three hours long in its uncut version, and split over two discs, but every second is cinematic gold.
    Mark M likes this.

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