Sunday, February 12, 2017

Movie Review: "Around the World in 80 Days" (1956)

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Movie"Around the World in 80 Days"
Year Nominated: 1957
Director: Michael Anderson
Rating: G
Running Time: 2 hours, 55 minutes
Did It Win?: Yes.

Phileas Fogg (David Niven) makes a wager with the other members of his club that he can circumnavigate the globe within 80 days. He immediately heads off with his new valet, Passepartout (Cantinflas), on a trip around the world.

Michael Anderson's "Around the World in 80 Days" is an epic adventure film that was nominated for 8 Academy Awards. It took home five, including Best Picture. It stars David Niven as Phileas Fogg, a wealthy and regimented man who likes things done a very precise way. Joining him is Cantinflas as Fogg's valet Passepartout. He is the primary comic relief of the film.

This was a big movie in every sense of the word, especially in 1956. It had a huge cast of extras, over 68,000, shooting locations all over the world, as well as 140 different sets in Hollywood shot over a period of 75 days. This movie was also big on cameos from the likes of Peter Lorre, Red Skelton, Cesar Romero, George Raft, Marlene Dietrich, Frank Sinatra, and Buster Keaton. With all of this going for it, somehow, director Michael Anderson has created a three hour movie that, in all honesty, is about an hour too long. There are some scenes that are pure filler and go on twice as long as they should, especially the bull fighting scene that didn't need to be nearly as long as it was. The character of Phileas Fogg, much like the film itself, is the epitome of opulence. He is a wealthy man and has no problem throwing his money around to achieve his lofty goals. David Niven fits his character quite well and puts on a good performance in the role. Cantinflas also does a good job and brings some much needed humor to this otherwise stodgy movie. Despite being in a supporting role, he commands quite a presence and has a large bit of screen time.

This movie is a lot about beautiful cinematography and showing the viewer a tiny portion of different cultures from around the world, even if those cultures are presented in the most stereotypical ways possible. There isn't much intrigue in Fogg's travels, especially as a modern audience looking back on movie that's already a period piece. Also, the overall plot is only moderately compelling in the first place, so it's hard to get invested in something that's not entirely engaging. There are some elements of "Around the World in 80 Days" that are enjoyable, but overall, it's another one of those Academy Award  winners that hasn't exactly aged well.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 74%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
Last Oscar season, we were watching: "Dog Day Afternoon"

Two Oscar seasons ago, we were watching: "Bugsy"

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