Phileas Fogg bet his fellow club members that he can circle the globe in eighty days. That may not be impressive today, but in 1872, it was nearly impossible. Accompanied by his valet, Passepartout, and the wandering Pri... more »ncess Aouda, Fogg crosses Europe, India, Japan, the Pacific and the United States.« less
Underrated and neglected: A 1950's classic reborn on DVD
Patrick J. Mccart | Georgia, USA | 05/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Incredibly entertaining "Best Picture" needs to be on DVD!
Patrick J. Mccart | 11/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This Todd-AO wide-wide-wide screen production earned many accolades when it was released and, although it may be a bit tame by today's standards, it should be placed on a DVD in its original WIDESCREEN Todd-AO format to get the full effect of its scenic and comic wonders. David Niven, a very young and beautiful Shirley MacLaine, Robert Newton and Cantinflas head a HUGE cast of movie stars playing all sorts of cameo surprise roles throughout, many of whom will probably not be recognized by today's generation but who should be remembered nevertheless. The great Victor Young score is magnificent and GREAT names show up all through this movie: Buster Keaton, Marlene Dietrich, Frank Sinatra, Cesar Romero, and over 40 other stars light up this adventure, which really works best in its widescreen presentation. Why this great family film has not been given the DVD treatment is a mystery to me. Let's hope this error in judgment will be corrected soon and a pristine widescreen DVD will be forthcoming of this truly delightful movie."
DVD Edition Brings New Luster to Todd Classic!
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 09/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS is more a triumph of spectacle than of storytelling, with an extraordinary backstory of a master entrepreneur's decade-long dream to create the biggest, most extravagant entertainment ever made. That the film was ever produced at all was miraculous; that it succeeded so well (earning the "Best Picture" Academy Award, along with a raftload of other prizes), and remains the most enjoyable version of Verne's novel (far superior to the Pierce Brosnan and Jackie Chan remakes) is a living testament to it's nearly forgotten guiding spirit, Michael Todd.
The film itself is basically a series of 'set pieces' (most involving the brilliant Mexican comedian, Cantinflas, and a wide variety of guest stars, appearing in 'cameos', to use the term coined by Todd), built around the framework of an aristocrat's wager that, using available transportation, he could circumnavigate the globe in 80 days. While David Niven is perfect as the supercilious Phileas Fogg, and Robert Newton is at his hammy best as detective Mr. Fix, it is Cantinflas, as Passepartout, manservant and sweet Everyman, who steals the movie.
While the years has lessened the novelty of many of the cameos, as performers have faded from memory, a few legendary actors still bring a smile, in their brief appearances (particularly an over-long but still amusing barroom sequence with Marlene Dietrich, George Raft, Red Skelton, and, as a 'capper', Frank Sinatra).
Included as 'extras' offered in the two-disc set are a revealing, occasionally tongue-in-cheek 1968 biography, "Around the World of Mike Todd", featuring fascinating and funny insights by his widow, Elizabeth Taylor, a clean-shaven, cape-draped Orson Welles, and many others; "Playhouse 90: Around the World in 90 Minutes", a 'live' look at the ultimately disastrous first anniversary 80 DAYS party at Madison Square Garden, with Garry Moore offering funny vignettes featuring Todd, himself (quite gifted at comedy!), and 'on scene' legendary commentators Walter Cronkite and Jim McKay (long before "Wide World of Sports"); Todd and Taylor, backstage after winning the "Best Picture" Oscar; and MUCH more.
Bravo to Warner Home Video for releasing a new, remastered DVD edition of the film, and including a treasure trove of special features about the film, and the irrepressible Michael Todd!"
An Absolute Classic
George Webster, Ph.D., | Orlando, FL USA | 09/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If the objective of a film is to entertain, then this one fills the bill admirably, and it works its magic every time that you view it. Based on Jules Verne's tale, Mike Todd produced a sweeping panorama of the world of 1872, as Plileas Fogg (David Niven), a proper British gentleman, claims that progress has been so great that a person can circumnavigate the earth in as little as 80 days. His fellow club members hoot and bet a fortune that he cannot, so Fogg and his servant, Passepartout (the wonderful, Mexican comedian Cantinflas), set off from London to Paris and on around the world by train, ship, elephant, and even balloon, and we are treated to a magnificent spectacle. Along the way, Fogg runs afoul of Mr. Fix (Robert Newton), a detective who mistakenly tries to arrest Fogg for robbing the Bank of England. Fogg also saves the Indian Princess Aouda (Shirley MacLaine) from burning on the funeral pyre of her dead husband, and romance grows in a particularly 19th century, British manner. Tension grows as they struggle to get from Japan to San Francisco, across the American continent and the Atlantic in time to meet the deadline. This is a thoroughly enjoyable film that doesn't grow old."
Approaching 50, but Entertaining as Ever
Kevin Beuret | Howe, Indiana United States | 09/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're looking for a steely-eyed, completely objective review of Mike Todd's 1956 blockbuster "Around the World in 80 Days," don't look here! As a very unsophisticated boy of 12 I saw this film in its first release, and though I'm long past being an innocent 12-year-old, its spell over me has never faded. I loved the story, and I thought the "twist" at the ending was wonderfully clever (it still is!), but in 1957 it was the technical aspects of this movie that really blew me away--it was the first movie I ever saw in a super-wide-screen format, and the first I ever heard that was in stereophonic sound. Today, however, as I see ATWIED through adult eyes, the acting and the production values are what make it a great film for me.
The story is about Phileas Fogg (David Niven), a wealthy Englishman of compulsively punctual habits who wagers a staggering sum that he can complete a journey around the world in 80 days--quite a feat for 1872. Accompanied by his somewhat seedy gentleman's gentleman Passepartout (Cantinflas), Fogg sets off on his journey, unaware that Scotland Yard suspects him of masterminding a recent robbery of the Bank of England. Fueled by the bumbling and thick-headed Inspector Fixx (portrayed by Robert Newton, who died shortly after this film was completed), this subplot helps move the action along very smartly.
For movie buffs, the best feature of this film is the profusion of cameo roles, often delightfully tongue-in-cheek, that punctuates the action. (In fact, the term "cameo role" originated with this movie!) In some films--"The Longest Day" comes immediately to mind--cameo roles are often hokey, and an annoying distraction. In this one, they work beautifully because the casting is so good: Evelyn Keyes as a snooty Parisian girl, John Carradine as a blustering denizen of the American West, George Raft as a sinister saloon owner--every role is perfectly filled. And if you're not the type of viewer who immediately recognizes classic film actors at first glimpse, don't worry about it. You won't miss a thing. The good-natured cameos are so skillfully worked into the fabric of the film that they never intrude upon the plot.
Is "Around the World in 80 Days" flawless? Of course not. Parts of it, like the opening monologue by famous, cigarette-in-hand newscaster Edward R. Murrow, are certainly dated--but in a way, this gosh-gee-whiz segment showing a relatively tiny rocket being fired into the stratosphere is a nostalgic reminder of what life was like mere days before the first artificial satellite orbited a planet that would never be the same again.
Now, after a seemingly endless wait, nostalgia buffs can see this wonderfully good-natured film on DVD. The restoration is virtually flawless (there are a few places where the print could have been cleaned up a bit), but compared with the faded VHS copies that have been floating around for years, this release of ATWIED is absolutely stunning, its color and sound brilliantly restored, and well worth the modest investment to obtain it. The special added features are generally worthwhile, too. Highly recommended!"