09 February 2012

Film Review: Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), by Michael Anderson, ****

Phileas Fogg bet his fellow club members that he can circle the globe in eighty days. That may not be impressive today, but in 1872, it was nearly impossible. Accompanied by his valet, Passepartout, and the wandering Princess Aouda, Fogg crosses Europe, India, Japan, the Pacific and the United States.

Winner of several Academy Awards, this was written by John Farrow (Mia's dad) and S.J. Perelman, based on Jules Verne's 1873 classic. The fun part is the razzle-dazzle. Todd knew what he was doing with all those exotic locales and over 40 cameo appearances, including Charles Boyer, Ronald Colman, Marlene Dietrich, José Greco, Peter Lorre, Buster Keaton, Frank Sinatra, and Red Skelton. A very young Shirley MacLaine was painted and dyed to play a lively Indian Princess. --Rochelle O'Gorman

Five Oscar winner film from 1956, the only one ever produced by Michael Todd, third husband of Elizabeth Taylor, who died soon afterwrds at 48. Nice box with two DVDs in English and French, with subtitles in Spanish as well. A pleasant panoramic view of the world's cultures, where the real protagonist is Passpartout, while Phileas Fogg embodies English pleghm in front of every and all adversity and unforseen circumstances. Surely some scenes appear rather improbable (in the book and in the film) but we should keep in mind that Verne was writing in the XVIII century and the film was made in the 1950s technology, no CGI here! But the movie flows well and leads the viewer by the hand around the world for a lively and at times even sparkling journey.

Of course, it is highly advisable to read the book as well, Naturalmente è consigliatissimo leggere il libro di Jules Verne. There are several editions available on Amazon if you click here.

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