One of the images that most think of when thinking of Around the World in 80 Days is traveling in a hot air balloon…in reality, though, that scene never appears in Jules Verne’s novel. It does, however, appear in the Academy Award winning movie produced in 1956 by Michael Todd.
Watching this movie is not only a fun trip around the world with scenes ranging from a bull fight in Spain to elephants in India, a Japanese acrobatic show to the wild West of the United States, but it is also a fun visit to movie-making of yesteryear. Without computer imaging, green screens, or fast-paced fight scenes, the movie relies on old-fashioned costumes, sets, and extras to bring the travels to life. According to the International Movie Database, the film used 140 sets in six Hollywood studios (plus sets in London, Hong Kong, and Japan), almost 75,000 costumes, 8,500 animals, and almost 70,000 extras.
It is also the film that brought the idea of “cameo” appearances to the movies—famous stars (including Ronald Colman who came out of retirement for his “role”) appeared in small roles delighting audiences…a practice that continuously used today.
Starring David Nevin in his favorite role as Phileas Fogg and the popular Mexican star Cantinflas in his first English-speaking role as Passepartout (a Frenchman in the book, but rewritten for the comedian), Around the World in 80 Days is an exploration of the world, adventure, and transportation in the late 1800’s as filmed in the 1950’s—full of stereotypes and scenery.
As is true of most books-turned-into-movies, there are quite a few differences between the novel and the film (learn about the novel: Around the World in 80 Days), but it’s still an adventure around the world with beautiful landscapes, funny moments, and lots of stars. And although by today’s standards, the movie can seem slow and silly, the role that this movie played in the future of film cannot be denied.
There are many other versions of this adventure story, too:
- Michael Palin’s Around the World in 80 Days (2007)–a documentary of Monty Python’s Michael Palin attempting to recreate the journey
- Around the World in 80 Days (2004)–starring Jackie Chan
- Around the World in 80 Days: The Complete Epic Mini-Series (1989)–starring Pierce Brosnan
Title: Around the World in 80 Days
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Warner Home Video
Actors: David Niven, Cantinfals, Robert Newton
Directors: Michael Anderson
Release Date: October 17, 1956
10-digit ASIN number: B0001US8F8