SEE EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD WORTH SEEING! DO EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD WORTH DOING!
In the late 1800s, London aristocrat Phileas Fogg (David Niven) makes a wager with fellow members at the Reform Club that he can travel around the world in as little as 80 days. One of the first epics to fill almost every scene with a star cameo; Frank Sinatra’s is the most memorable. The film itself is very elaborate, reminiscent of 19th century world expositions – all the wonders of the planet is on display. There’s always something to enjoy here, but the storytelling and tension suffers because of the constant focus on spectacle. Still, impressively photographed and scored, with a terrific Niven in the lead; Shirley MacLaine is harder to accept as an Indian princess.
1956-U.S. 183 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Michael Todd. Directed by Michael Anderson. Screenplay: James Poe, John Farrow, S.J. Perelman. Novel: Jules Verne. Cinematography: Lionel Lindon. Editing: Gene Ruggiero, Paul Weatherwax. Music: Victor Young. Cast: David Niven (Phileas Fogg), Cantinflas (Passepartout), Shirley MacLaine (Aouda), Robert Newton, Buster Keaton, José Greco… John Gielgud, Robert Morley, Marlene Dietrich, Noël Coward, Trevor Howard, Charles Boyer, Cesar Romero, Cedric Hardwicke, Ronald Colman, Peter Lorre, George Raft, Red Skelton, John Carradine, Frank Sinatra, Joe E. Brown, Victor McLaglen, John Mills, Glynis Johns.
Trivia: Edward R. Murrow provides the opening narration. Also released in 167-min. and 143-min. cuts. Laurence Olivier was allegedly considered for a cameo. Remade as a miniseries in 1989, and as Around the World in 80 Days (2004).
Oscars: Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing, Scoring. Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture (Drama), Actor (Cantinflas).
Last word: “Gielgud asked me, ‘Why do you want me to play a sacked butler? I am a Shakespearean actor.’ I said, ‘Because I know you could do it so well and I know it’s right for you.’ He said, ‘Let me read it.’ I gave him the pages and he read it. Then he said, ‘My dear Mr. Todd, you really want me to play this? Why?… Who is playing the other part?’ I said, ‘Noël Coward.’ He said, ‘I’ve got to see that.’ I said, ‘One way for you to see it – be on the set tomorrow.’ And he was on the set.” (Todd, TCM)