Around the World in Eighty Days – (1956) This Oscar-winning best picture and score (composed by Victor Young), adapted from Jules Verne’s classic story, with an introduction by Edward R. Murrow, takes us around the world in three hours with 44 cameo appearances – including Joe E. Brown, Ronald Coleman, Noel Coward, Andy Devine, Marlene Dietrich, John Gielgud, Trevor Howard, Glynis Johns, Buster Keaton, Peter Lorre, George Raft, Frank Sinatra, Red Skelton.
On 3 July 1872 in London at the Reform Club, a fastidious, excessively confident, wealthy gentleman, Phileas Fogg (David Niven) makes a wager (₤5000 with each of four members of his club) that he can circumnavigate the globe in eighty days beginning that day. Promptly packing and departing with his recently acquired manservant and jack-of-all-trades Passepartout (the Mexican comedian Cantinflas), the pair arrive in Paris to be informed by Monsieur Gasse (Charles Boyer) at the office of Thomas and Cooke that the train they need to get through the Pyrenees will be delayed for nearly a week. However, Monsieur Gasse, a balloonist, offers to sell his aerostat to Fogg. Into the basket with flight manual in hand our intrepid adventurers climb, and we are aloft seeing the scenery from on high.
Back in England where on the same day as Fogg’s quixotic boast the Bank of London was robbed of ₤55,000, British authorities have become suspicious of Fogg’s hasty leave-taking; a detective sets out in hot pursuit. Our brave fellows take in the sights after their balloon descends into Spain (Spanish dancing and Passepartout dons a matador’s suit of lights in a bullring); by ship they sail to Morocco and from there to Bombay. Misinformed that the railway to Calcutta has been completed, they hire someone to take them by elephant to the end of the line; but before they reach their destination, they rescue a young Indian princess from suttee (ritual cremation). Fogg invites Princess Aouda (Shirley MacLaine) to accompany them on their journey.
More sailing brings them to Hong Kong where the detective tricks Passepartout into getting drunk and then sends the valet sans master on to Yokohama, Japan (where actual landmarks are misrepresented in the movie). Missing the ship needed for the next leg of the voyage, Fogg, calm and cool in a crisis, hires a junk to get to the land of the rising sun where he and the princess find Passepartout performing in a circus.
On to San Francisco then by train to Ft Kearney, Nebraska, where their train is attacked by Sioux Indians and Passepartout is captured. After being rescued by the US cavalry, Passepartout rejoins his master and the princess on a railway car rigged with a sail. With only days to go they board the steamship Henritta and begin a race with time across the Atlantic, but the fuel runs out. Never-say-die Fogg purchases the boat from its captain and orders that it be cannibalizing of all its own the wood until nothing remains to burn as they just make landfall where the detective is waiting for them with a warrant for Fogg’s arrest. The rest would be telling, but the film’s pace today seems plodding and the events mostly silly. Read the book.
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