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Around the World in Days (80 ) Movie Review

fogg film todd awards

1956 – Michael Anderson, Kevin McClory, Sidney Smith –

Mike Todd was more often referred to as a showman than a producer, and his signature flamboyance is everywhere on display in this, his only film. Reportedly, fundraising was still being carried out while shooting was underway. Todd is said to have paid two Paris cab drivers to stage an accident to distract the police who were about to arrest the film crew for towing away cars in their way. David Niven plays Phileas Fogg, the hero of Jules Verne's novel, who bets his fellow club members in 1872 England that he can circle the world in eighty days; his travels take on the aspect of a chase when Inspector Fix (Robert Newton, in his last film role) determines to follow Fogg suspecting that he is the intrepid adventurer who recently robbed the Bank of England. (Todd was the first to use the word “cameo” to refer to a small part played by a big star. He was afraid that some of the bigger names would consider their walk-on appearances beneath them, so he came up with a term to elevate the importance of these glorified extras. According to Cedric Hardwicke, Todd was shrewd enough to begin this type of casting with the British stars, whose tradition maintains that an actor does not lose prestige by taking a small part.)

The episodic development of the movie is slapped together like the stickers on a steamer trunk. The plot is really a series of set pieces perhaps best appreciated by some of the statistics generated by the 127-day filming tour of Todd and his crew: a wardrobe of nearly 75,000 costumes, scenes shot in 140 locations in thirteen countries, thirty-three assistant directors, sound stages at three separate studios for interior scenes, thirty-four different species of animals totaling 8,000 animals in all. The many shots of Fogg and his manservant Passepartout (Cantinflas) looking at scenery followed by various shots of wildlife, horizons, sunsets eventually produce a lulling effect.

The hero Fogg is so fastidious and regulated in his life that the character seems more of a running joke than a personality. It is, at least, a good joke that Niven plays to perfection: Fogg continually remains unflappable amid many potential disasters. A highlight occurs after Fogg and Passepartout rescue an Indian princess from a funeral pyre. Shirley MacLaine is enjoyable in this part (although she often spoke of herself as miscast). The formal and respectful Princess Aouda joins the travelers and shares a shipboard conversation with Fogg about their mutual passion for whist. For two such emotionally guarded characters, this makes for a charming courtship scene and an effective contrast to the ongoing series of threats to their journey. But when such a touch of subtlety becomes one of the film's memorable moments, you know that the attempts at spectacle often fail to come off.

Cast: David Niven (Phileas Fogg), Cantinflas (Passepartout), Shirley MacLaine (Princess Aouda), Robert Newton (Mr. Fix), Cedric Hardwicke (Sir Francis Gromarty), Trevor Howard (Fallentin), Charles Boyer (Monsieur Gasse), Joe E. Brown (Stationmaster), Martine Carol (Tourist), John Carradine (Col. Proctor Stamp), Charles Coburn (Clerk), Ronald Colman (Railway Official), Melville Cooper (Steward), Noel Coward (Hesketh-Baggott), Finlay Currie (Whist Partner), Reginald Denny (Police Chief), Andy Devine (First Mate), Marlene Dietrich (Hostess), Ava Gardner (Spectator), John Gielund (Foster), Hermione Gingold (Sporting Lady), Jose Greco (Dancer), Glynis Johns (Companion), Buster Keaton (Conductor), Evelyn Keyes (Flirt), Beatrice Lillie (Revivalist), Peter Lorre (Japanese Steward), Keye Luke (Cameo), Mike Mazurki (Character), Victor McLaglen (Helmsman), John Mills (Cameo), Robert Morely (Ralph), Edward R. Murrow (Narrator), George Raft (Bouncer), Gilbert Roland (Achmed Abdullah), Cesar Romero (Henchman), Frank Sinatra (Pianist), Red Skelton (Drunk), Philip Van Zandt (Cameo), Screenwriter: John Farrow, S.J. Perelman, James Poe Cinematographer: Lionel Lindon Composer: Victor Young Producer Kevin McClory, William Cameron Menzies, Michael Todd Running Time: 175 minutes Format: VHS, Beta, LV Awards: Academy Awards, 1956: Adapted Screenplay, Color Cinematography, Film Editing, Picture, Dramatic/Comedy Score; Nominations: Art Direction, Set Decoration, Costume Design, Director (Michael Anderson), Golden Globe Awards, 1957: Actor—Musical/Comedy (Cantiflas), Film—Drama, National Board of Review Awards 1956: 10 Best Films of the Year, New York Film Critics Awards 1956: Film, Screenplay Budget: $6M.

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