Monday, February 11, 2013

Around the World in Eighty Days

British cad Phileas Fogg (David Niven) bets the other stuffed shirts at his social club that, due to the rapid advances in transportation of the time, he can traverse the globe in no more than eighty days. Travelling with his servant (Cantinflas), he begins a raucous journey that takes him in a hot air ballon,  to a Spanish bullfight, through the jungles of India, and the streets of Hong Kong and San Francisco, before engaging marauding Indians on a passenger train in the Wild West. Michael Todd's "Around the World in 80 Days", a grand but fundamentally empty spectacle he was able to march all the way to a Best Picture Oscar, you can see a lot of today's big budget dreck stemming from this film. In an overlongh adaptation of Jules Verne's 1873 novel directed by Michael Anderson, you never get the sense the characters are partaking in an arduous journey. Rather, you get a lighthearted romp, stretched out to three hours featuring a slew of impressive (Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich, Buster Keaton, Peter Lorre to name a few), but sidetracking cameos.