on May 24, 2004
First of all, "Around the World in 80 Days" is one of the best of the 1950-1960's grand epics. It may not have the character depth of Giant or the scale of The Ten Commandments, but it's still one heck of a fun movie.
Mike Todd set out to make 3 hours of crowd-pleasing entertainment and he reached his goal, ten-fold (literally... the $6,000,000 film earned over 4 times its cost at the box office). The cast is wonderful (it's definately Cantinflas' show, though) and the Oscar winning cinematography is breathtaking. Also, one of the best musical scores (also an Oscar winner) and a witty screenplay (Oscar winner) make it a real joy to see.
Sadly, for the last 18 years, the only version on home video has been a pan & scan one. "80 Days" was shot in the Todd-AO 70mm format, so the crisp, ultra-detailed, and wide image is totally mangled in that format. It doesn't help that the P&S tape also used a mono track rather than the full stereophonic surround sound that Todd-AO (and even many general release 35mm prints) offered.
Warner Home Video's DVD of the film is nothing short of a triumph. The film's original negative has been in awful condition since the 1950's (not Warner's fault, mind you), thus making a watchable print is more or less impossible. Thankfully, Warner has remastered "80 Days" from scratch. The result is a stunning 2.20:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with the Todd-AO mix adapted to Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbs, too!) While the image occasionally has gooey splices and some specks on the image, the film has a level of crispness and color vibrancy that rivals 1940's Technicolor films. The 5.1 track is wonderful and keeps a lot of the directional sound of 6-track magnetic sound from 70mm presentation.
What is really amazing is that Warner managed to make one of the most perfect digital transfers of a film, ever. Not one hint of edge enhancement pops up, no pixelation, no macroblocking. While the film source isn't perfect, Warner didn't add any sort of imperfections when adapting the 65mm film to NTSC video. The switch to 448 kbs (Warner usually uses a lower bitrate for 5.1 audio) gives the audio a certain warmth that is in line with the ultra-high fidelity of 6-track mag sound.
The extras are great, too. The Robert Osborne intros, outtakes, Brian Sibley commentary, original "Trip to the Moon" short, and roadshow program book (on DVD-ROM) makes this an excellent presentation of a Best Picture Oscar winner.
Whether you're collecting the Best Picture winners, a fan of the classic 1950's epics, or just looking for a fun movie to watch, Around the World in 80 Days is worth a purchase. "80 Days" hasn't lost its luster due to age, it's because of poor presentation. Now that Warner Bros. has released the film in widescreen, people can now discover what is one of the most underrated and neglected films.
on June 20, 2004
One of the LAST GREAT INNOVATORS ~ this pristine restored DVD gives the viewer a hint of what it was like to see the original in '57.
It runs more or less like a circus act [intentionally] with a miriad of Guest Stars - which makes it even more fun to find them and point them out!
Niven is deliciously droll, Cantinflas [somewhat like Chaplin's little chap from South of the Border] admirably enhances the trio of globe-trotters - with the Young and Glam Shirley MacLaine as the East Indian Princess [!] Fun casting.
Possibly one of the most satisfying DVD experiences to date - the picture quality is superior to some of the current new releases! A THX treatment of the sound [not too bad] would have been preferable.
Something for the neophyte and avid collected!
[Stunning Elizabeth Taylor is featured as narrator in part of the extras!]
on July 6, 2004
Superb release of the star-studded Michael Todd venture. The film looks great. But what makes this special is the feature-length commentary by Brian Sibley. He not only gives a run down on all the actors (including, helpfully, those whose stars have faded -- how fleetingis fame) but gives an extraordinary wealth of information about the music, costuming, back lots, writers and, especially, Michael Todd. Anyone weary of commentaries with tired directors and vapid actors who tell nothing more than what's going on on-screen, will find Sibley's commentary not onlyl informative but a lot of fun.
on June 17, 2004
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: May 18, 2004
David Niven ... Phileas Fogg
Finlay Currie ... Whist Partner
Cantinflas ... Passepartout
Robert Morley ... Ralph, Reform Club Member
Ronald Squire ... Reform Club Member
Basil Sydney ... Reform Club Member
Noel Coward ... Hesketh-Baggott, Employment Agent
John Gielgud ... Mr. Foster, previous valet to Mr. Fogg
Trevor Howard ... Denis Fallentin, Reform Club Member
Harcourt Williams ... Hinshaw, Reform Club Attendant
Martine Carol ... Tourist
Fernandel ... French Coachman
Charles Boyer ... Monsieur Gasse, Travel Agent
Evelyn Keyes ... The Flirt
José Greco ... Flamenco Dancer
Luis Miguel Dominguín ... Bullfighter
Gilbert Roland ... Achmed Abdullah
Cesar Romero ... Achmed Abdullah's Henchman
Alan Mowbray ... Consul
Robert Newton ... Mr. Fix
Cedric Hardwicke ... Sir Francis Gromarty
Melville Cooper ... Mr. Talley, Captain of the 'Rangoon'
Reginald Denny ... Police Chief
Ronald Colman ... Railway Official
Robert Cabal ... Elephant Driver-Guide
Shirley MacLaine ... Princess Aouda
Charles Coburn ... Steamship Company Clerk
Peter Lorre ... Japanese Steward
George Raft ... Saloon Bouncer
Red Skelton ... Drunk in Saloon
Marlene Dietrich ... Saloon Hostess
John Carradine ... Col. Proctor Stamp
Frank Sinatra ... Saloon Pianist
Buster Keaton ... Train Conductor
Tim McCoy ... Colonel, U.S. Cavalry
Joe E. Brown ... Stationmaster
Andy Devine ... First Mate of the 'Henrietta'
Edmund Lowe ... Engineer of the 'Henrietta'
Victor McLaglen ... Helmsman of the 'Henrietta'
Jack Oakie ... Captain of the 'Henrietta'
Beatrice Lillie ... Revivalist
John Mills ... Carriage Driver
Glynis Johns ... Sporting Lady's Companion
Hermione Gingold ... Sporting Lady
Edward R. Murrow ... Himself/Prologue Narrator
A.E. Matthews ... Club Member
Ronald Adam ... Club Member
Walter Fitzgerald ... Club Member
Frank Royde ... Club Member
Roy Darmour ... Featured player
Plus over 150 extras
This film was made by the late Michael Todd, one of Elizabeth Taylor's many husbands, who attracted many of the star-studded cast by coining the phrase (now widely used) "cameo appearance." Stars of such lofty reputations would almost certainly not have agreed to "bit" parts, but "cameo" had a much more palatable ring to it. And this one does, indeed, have a cast of stars.
The late David Niven, one of filmdom's truly outstanding great actors with unmatched panache, has the starring role, as Phineas Fogg, an eccentric Englishman who wagers that he can circumnavigate the globe in only eighty days, to the disbelief and even derision of other members of his exclusive London club.
Accompanying him is his personal servant, Passepartout (Cantinflas, playing his first English speaking role), whom hw has just hired that very day. The movie is excellent in its depiction of various parts of the world that the pair experience, including 19th century America.
The plot is complicated when a British detective, Mr. Fix (Robert Newton), suspects Fogg of robbing the Bank of England and dogs his tail throughout.
This is a fine film, made in 1957 originally, at great expense and with a hugely talented staff. Truly an extravaganza, very entertaining. It was the "Picture of the Year" when it was released. Very entertaining.
Joseph (Joe) Pierre
author of Handguns and Freedom...their care and maintenance
and other books
on May 20, 2004
I have been waiting for years for Warner Brothers to release "Around the World in 80 Days" in its original widescreen splendor. For the DVD edition, the powers-that-be wisely decided to remaster and enhance the roadshow version, which restores one scene showing Cantinflas's attempts to escape the "redskins" chasing him. The picture and sound is quite good, certainly better than any print I have seen on TV in recent memory. Although a few minor scratches and pit marks remain on this restored print, the overall look, especially on a widescreen television, is awesome.
I have read that this film is not as good as its reputation. One must remember the social atmosphere of the world this movie was released into. Nowadays, with large TV's and the internet, along with the ability to jet to anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye, a film like this may appear quaint and antique. But in 1956, when "Around the World" was first released, television wasn't even in color, much less HDTV widescreen. The only way to see color images of, say India, was to read National Geographic. Before 1956, movie studios "made magic" on the backlot, with sets constructed to look like "Casablanca". The film's producer, Mike Todd, took his cameras to the actual locations, and for the first time in film history. It's little wonder "Around the World in 80 Days" was such a blockbuster hit.
It will be interesting to see if the new Jackie Chan "Around the World in 80 Days" can even come close to matching Mike Todd's achievement.
on June 27, 2003
According to the Digital Bits, Warner Brothers will be releasing AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS in a 2-disc SE. The exact date is not known, but Warner representatives have said it is coming soon, with the prologue, intermission, etc. I will try to give you more details when I can!
on May 24, 2004
For over a year, I have awaited the release of the DVD of Mike Todd's epic travelogue AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS. At long last, it is here. Watch the 181 minute roadshow version with the intermission (at the 112 minute mark) and 5 minute exit mus restored.
But it gets better.
LIsten to Brian Sibley's fascinating and personable commentary which covers the entire film.
But it gets better.
View the expansive and relevant extra features, which give an idea of how big the film was.
But it gets better.
Look at it, restored and in widescreen for the first time in 40-odd years.
But it gets better.
Feel it in your hands, and savor the feeling that it is finally yours.
It doesn't get better than that.
on June 8, 2004
Immensely refreshing movie that brings out the best adventure of the human spirit. Phileas Fogg the eccentric multi-millionaire makes a beat with the members with an elite all British Club whose members include a banker from the bank of England that he can travel around the world in 80 days accompanied by his servant Cantinflas. The Club starts placing beats against Fogg immediately and Fogg's deductions about a bank robbery will make him a suspect.
Fogg instructs Cantinflas too carry the bag containing an enormous quantity of new British notes and charges him to watch the bag at all times. When Fogg arrives at the travel agency and discovers an avalanche has blocked travel by railway, he begins searching for a new solution and upon discovering an alternate solution Fogg purchases a hot air balloon. Fogg and Cantinflas sail over the Alps with Cantinflas grab snow from a peak too chill their Champaign as they celebrate their ingenuity. Fogg will not be deterred from keeping on schedule by providing generous bonus for increased performance by participates along the journey.
Cantinflas is an important element to the movie; as in the scene in Spain where his spontaneous burst of enthusiastic dancing resulted in an invitation too participate in a bullfight. Cantinflas performed magnificently in the bullfight and eventually tames the bull, a tribute too his magnificently skill and was carried on the shoulders of the people as a hero. Because of Cantinflas skill Fogg is permitted usage of the Sultan's ship for passage to India.
In India, Cantinflas mischievously taunts a Braham bull mistaking him as a nuisance and instead draws the wrath of the community as religious violation of a religious symbol and a mob chase after Cantinflas and escapes from them out of breath as he leaps onto a train containing the impatient Fogg and the group is on route too Hong Kong.
Unfortunately, the group discovers the rail road tracks leading to Hong Kong has not been finished and the group must travel the last 50 miles by Elephant and during this time Cantinflas devises and executes the rescues of the beautiful Princess Aouda, who later falls in love with Fogg and becomes his wife. In Hong Kong Cantinflas becomes separated from Fogg as the inspector tricks him into drinking a knockout drink and Cantinflas wakens too find himself on a ship to Yokohama without Fogg and penniless.
Japan without any money will not treat Cantinflas well and once in Japan without money he can't purchase food. The first place Cantinflas visits after arriving Japan is a large Buddha statue and where he receives an apple and praises Buddha for the generosity, yet his stomach is still empty, so Cantinflas joins the circus too make some money for food when suddenly Fogg arrives during the performance and the group departs in a disaster for the circus.
The group catches a ship for San Francisco arriving during an election (look for Red Skeleton and Frank Sinatra). Cantinflas prepares for the "Wild West" and hostile Indians by purchasing weapons and eventually appear dressed like gun fighter, but this doesn't prevent his capture by the Sue Indians, who plan on burning him. Fogg rescues Cantinflas leading a Calvary charge and this delay causes them too miss the train so they innovate and create a wind powered rail car helping them finish the journey across the Transamerica rail.
The group is running behind schedule and have missed the ship to England so they divert travel plans and acquire a steam ship in Argentina managing to cross the ocean by using all burnable items to power the steam ship. Once back on English soil, Fogg is detained as a Bank robbery and later released as the real thieve has been apprehended. Fogg accepts the princesses Auoda hand in marriage and insist on Cantinflas acquire the preacher for the marriage and as Cantinflas retrieves the preacher, he realizes that they have arrived on Saturday not Sunday because they have travel east saving a day. Fogg arrives punctually and receives 20,000 pounds for his travels.
on May 27, 2004
In this age of big-budget CGI special effects, a 1956 movie with this kind of scope and grandeur is all the more astonishing. This is the movie I longed to watch when I first saw the chopped-up, washed-out "Around the World in 80 Days" on VHS years ago. BRAVO on this fantastic DVD!!!! The picture quality is stunning, the colors are vibrant, the widescreen presentation is perfect, and the story is more charming than ever.
I was drawn to this movie not as a fan of 1950's epics (although I love them) but as an avid fan of Jules Verne. This is quite possibly the only screen version that is loyal to Verne's inspired masterpiece of comedy. With over 40 cameos by such stars as Buster Keaton, Frank Sinatra, Red Skelton, and Peter Lorre, Michael Todd's one and only film is a masterpiece in its own right. It is more about star power, breathtaking cinematography, and sharp, witty dialogue than about story, and it is all these elements that make the film work so well. The flamenco dance in the Spanish tavern is alone worth the price of the DVD - it is one of the most gorgeous scenes ever shot on film.
But David Niven, Robert Newton, and Shirley MacLaine aside, the real star of this film is the charming and phenomenally talented Cantinflas, the Mexican comedian who at the time was the highest paid entertainer in the world. And with good reason! In his first English-speaking role, Cantinflas steals the show with a brilliant performance.
Fans of Jules Verne will be tickled pink at the very faithful adaptation (with only very minor changes that play to the particular strengths of Cantinflas himself - even Jules Verne would love that bullfighting scene!), and fans of 50's epics will be enthralled with the scope of this monumental achievement. This is one of those films that should be much better known than it is, because it is simply one of the finest movies ever made.
Thanks to Warner Brothers for FINALLY seeing this movie's great potential and restoring it to the presentation it deserves. Fantastic job.
on May 18, 2004
"Around The World in 80 Days" is producer, Mike Todd's lasting tribute to divine decadence circa 1950's film making. Keeping in mind that the decade produced one lavish, eye popping spectacle after the next in an attempt to win audience away from television, "Around the World in 80 Days" is a star-studded, over produced and overblown retelling of the classic story by visionary author, Jules Verne. Having stated the obvious, this film is also a lot of fun to watch. The story - in brief - concerns a bet made by Phileus Fogg (David Niven)to members of his men's club, that he can circle the world in 80 days and be back in England in time to collect his handsome wager. On this occasion, Fogg is ably aided by his man servant, Passepartout (Cantinflas)to whom Fogg entrusts most of the seemingly benign duties on their journey. Every one from famed Flamango dancer, Jose Greco, to sultry Marlene Dietrich make cameo appearances, which is part of the fun of this gigantic travel log with an attitude. Shirley McClaine plays a key role as an Arabian princess, whom Fogg befriends and brings back with him to England. Over all, good humor, great fun - if a bit stuffy at times - and carried off with overwhelmingly "splendiferous" showmanship.
THE TRANSFER: In a word - marvelous. "Around the World In 80 Days" was filmed in Mike Todd's patented Todd-AO widescreen format. Superior to Cinemascope in just about every way, novices to the process may find the fish eye warping of vertical and horizontal lines a bit problematic to watch but this is as Todd envisioned the film to be seen. Warner Brothers gives us a near pristine print. After some unstable color during the film's overly lengthy introduction (delivered by no less of an M.C. narrator than Edward R. Murrow), and a rather faded montage of a rocket ship blasting into space, the rest of the film exhibits a stunningly pristine, vibrant and solid color scheme that is in keeping with the high resolution of the Todd-AO film process. Colors are rich, well defined and nicely balanced. Shadow, black and contrast levels are magnificently rendered. Several outdoor scenes exhibit a slightly soft characteristic, but this too is in keeping with the original photography. Edge enhancement is rarely present. Pixelization and shimmering of fine details is never an issue. The audio is remixed to 5.1 and offers a marvelous spread - particularly in the music. Dialogue is directionalized in several scenes to good advantage. Truly, this is one heck of a good visual presentation from Warner and it is to be commended on every level.
EXTRAS: The film is divided into two parts across two discs, but, as the original roadshow engagement had an intermission, this break is forgiveable. Both discs contain a very thorough and engaging audio commentary. As well, on disc one we get to see George Melies' A Trip To the Moon (also based on a Jules Verne novel) in its full and uncropped version. The film elements have dated badly but over all, the image quality on this short film is to be expected. On disc two we get several extra features including an hour long documentary on Mike Todd that was produced in 1968 and narrated by Orson Welles. The color balancing on this documentary is POOR, with orange flesh tones and a considerable amount of grain, dirt and scratches throughout. We also get some edited clips from Playhouse 90 and the Academy Award ceremonies that are in poor condition but interesting to view from a historical perspective nevertheless.
BOTTOM LINE: "Around The World in 80 Days" is the sort of grandiose production that became a main staple of the 1950s. It's loaded with kitsch, glamor, exotic locations and appearances by nearly every major star of the day. Although one could argue there were far more deserving candidates for the BEST PICTURE OSCAR, this film continues to live up to all the hype one has come to hear over the years, regarding its lengthy and lavish production. Warner's 2 disc special edition should be on everybody's wish list!