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Film / Around the World in 80 Days (1956)

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Around the World in 80 Days (sometimes spelled as Around the World in Eighty Days) is a 1956 film produced by the Michael Todd Company and released by United Artists, starring David Niven, Cantinflas, Shirley MacLaine, Robert Newton, and an All-Star Cast of cameo actors.

The epic picture was directed by Michael Anderson and produced by Mike Todd, with Kevin McClory and William Cameron Menzies as associate producers. The screenplay was written by James Poe, John Farrow, and S. J. Perelman based on the classic novel of the same name by Jules Verne. The music score was composed by Victor Young, and the Todd-AO 70 mm cinematography was by Lionel Lindon. The seven-minute-long animated title sequence, shown at the end of the film, was created by award-winning designer Saul Bass.

The film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It would also turn out to be one of the last films scored by Young, as he died less than one month later.


The 1956 film adaptation provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Nationality: Passepartout in the novel is a Frenchman, but a Latin American in the film, played by Mexican actor-comedian Cantinflas.
  • Annoying Arrows: Taken to an embarrassing extreme when arrows can be seen bouncing off of Passepartout during the Indian attack on the train.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: The film includes scenes of Cantinflas bullfighting in Chinchón.
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: Or at least it does when an American flings it at Passepartout's table after Passepartout gets a little too cozy with Marlene Dietrich.
  • Brits Love Tea:
    • Fix may regard Fogg's imminent escape from India as a "crisis", but the local British police chief isn't going to let that interrupt his tea or anything.
    • Fogg having his tea served on a liner deck in the middle of a storm.
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  • The Cameo: Peter Lorre! Buster Keaton! Frank Sinatra? And Noël Coward, John Gielgud, Trevor Howard, Charles Boyer, Cesar Romero, Cedric Hardwicke, Ronald Colman, Charles Coburn, George Raft, Marlene Dietrich, Red Skelton, John Carradine, Andy Devine, and the list just keeps going from there. Part of the film's gimmick was its long parade of brief cameo appearances by familiar faces, keeping audiences wondering who would show up next.
  • Canon Immigrant: Phileas Fogg's balloon ride happens not in the Verne novel, but in this film. The balloon ride has since become such an iconic part of the story that Michael Palin took a balloon ride in his 1989 travelogue, and modern printings of Verne's novel are sometimes published along with another Verne novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon, with a balloon on the cover.
  • Creative Closing Credits: A six-minute Saul Bass reconstruction of the events of the film. It can be seen here.
  • Epic Movie: Oh yes. Three hours long, shot on exotic locations, with a horde of cameos.
  • Follow That Car: Or "Follow that ostrich", as Fix says when getting in his own ostrich-driven transport in Hong Kong.
  • Fake Shemp: David Niven was afraid of heights, so Tom Burges, who was shorter than Niven, stood in for him for scenes where the balloon is seen from a distance.
  • Intermission: This occurs when the trio sail on a ship to the United States, to an instrumental of “Rue Britannia” switching to “Yankee Doodle.”
  • Invisible President: In one of the film's many tongue-in-cheek scenes (S. J. Perelman was in charge of the screenplay, after all), there's a big buildup in which a newspaper is delivered to Queen Victoria... of whom all we see is one hand.
  • Large Ham: There might not have been any scenery left in Hollywood after John Carradine, playing Col. Proctor, chewed it all.
  • Mid-Battle Tea Break: "Crisis or no, nothing should interfere with tea!"
  • One-Book Author: This was the only film produced by Mike Todd, who primarily produced Broadway shows. He was killed in a plane crash eighteen months after the film opened.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • The original story has Phileas Fogg travel in the autumn and winter of the year. This especially comes into play when he crosses the US, and uses a sledge. Evidently it proved necessary or more appropriate to film the movie in the summer; the date of the trip is changed accordingly. The journey by sledge on the prairies is turned into a journey on a handcar propelled by sail.
    • Not so much necessary, but desired in that the book had Aouda soon changing her clothes to a typical European dress. However for most adapters, having this beautiful Indian woman deemphasizing her exoticness by losing her sari is unthinkable. Also, nowadays not having her accompany Fogg and Passepartout in the final sprint to the Reform Club makes the sequence feel incomplete.
    • Balancing an Indian attack on the train by first having the train stop so the Engineer can share a Peace Pipe with a different Native American nation, who have no interest in attacking since they are satisfied by this gesture.
  • Scenery Porn: And lots of it.
  • Time Title: Film adaptation of the book, Around the World in 80 Days.
  • Widescreen Shot: A "spread to widescreen" shot.