Around the World in 80 Days (1956)

around the world in 80 days poster 1956 movie best picture
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great cast, great looking

Too long and so-so story

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  Around the World in 80 Days

Studio:  United Artists

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Drama/Family

Release Date(s):  October 17, 1956

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

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Let’s get this party started!!!

Phileas Fogg (David Niven) is an Englishman with a challenge.  When the Reform Club bets he cannot travel around the world in eighty days, Phileas jumps at the challenge.  With his newly hired assistant Passepartout (Cantinflas), Phileas is out for adventure and seeing sights few have seen.  Rescuing Princess Aouda (Shirley MacLaine), Phileas is unknowingly pursued by Inspector Fix (Robert Newton) who suspects Phileas has a more sinister motive to his worldwide adventure.

Directed by Michael Anderson, Around the World in 80 Days adapts the 1873 fantasy adventure by Jules Verne.  The film was very well received and the winner of a number of awards.  The movie won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Screenplay—Adapted, Best Cinematography—Color, Best Film Editing, and Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture and also received nominations for Best Director, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration—Color, and Best Costume Design—Color.

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Seriously dude….quit following me!

Around the World in 80 Days is an epic picture.  With a running time of over three hours, it has a gargantuan feel to it that few movies have today.  Bloated, sometimes dull, the movie does at points drag but maintains a spectacle feel through the whole story.

Part of the problem with the movie is the pacing.  The film is meant to be a spectacle and almost a showcase for spectacular sites in bright color with a widescreen presentation.  The movie was shot in Todd-AO 70 mm which was a revolution at the time.  With such a focus on look, I feel the story plots a bit with Phileas and Passepartout getting in one scrape after another…sometimes fun, other times not, but despite being a movie about a worldwide race, I don’t feel much of a sense of urgency…plus, the Inspector Fix “pursuit” aspect also really doesn’t do much except provide an obvious final foil.

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Toro! Toro!

What the movie does do is have one of the best casts at the time.  Anchored by David Niven and Cantinflas (whose real name was Mario Fortino Alfonso Moreo Reyes), the movie does have a nice feel.  Niven is perfect as the prim and proper Englishman and Cantinflas is a great fun-loving rogue.  Each actor brought their own skills to the film including Cantinflas who did perform his own bullfighting scene.  Shirley MacLaine has said she was miscast for the role and probably was (her voice was also dubbed over) and the movie was also the last role for Robert Newton.

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Wait…you don’t want me to sing?

Around the World in 80 Days popularized the idea of a cameo movie.  The movie is loaded with famous stars in small roles which some highly coveted and others turned down.  Some of the actors appearing include Noel Coward, Peter Lorre, Red Skelton, Marlene Dietrich, John Carradine, Frank Sinatra, John Mills, Buster Keaton, and Cesar Romero.  The movie employed everyone from flamenco dancer José Greco to journalist Edward R. Murrow in the opening narration sequence.  John Wayne turned down a role and Laurence Olivier also passed on a small part.  Allegedly Orson Welles did want to be part of the production since he had done a stage version of the play…but didn’t get the invite.

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Guess what? You’re way too young for me!!!

The movie is what it set out to be.  It is a spectacle.  The bright lavish colors and sets do help make the film stand out for the time.  The widescreen format also really pops on camera.  Now with better TVs and transfers of the film, it is a bit easier to see why an audience would have been wowed by the movie when it was released.  The film is often cited as one of the biggest productions Hollywood productions.

Around the World in 80 Days is a rather harmless and easy movie.  It is big, gaudy, and loaded with celebrity who’s who for the time it was made.  It is not the best Best Picture you’ll ever see, but it also isn’t the worse.  With an extremely long running time, the movie does feel like a bit of a chore…make full use of the intermission and enjoy.  Verne’s tale also shot as a 1989 TV movie and a big screen adventure in 2004.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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