Around the World in 80 Days

Around the world in 80 days ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Directors: Michael AndersonJohn Farrow. Cast: David Niven, Cantinflas, Shirley MacLaine

It’s hard to imagine what this film must have looked like when this film was first released in 1956. Back then it was the largest Hollywood production ever but the scale of some of it looks quite impressive even for today’ standards: 68,894 extras, 74685 costumes, 8552 animals as well as some of the large sets ever built. Showered with Oscars at the time, never the word epic was better suited to describe the scale of the production. This is also the film that started off the trend of cameo roles; most of the faces mean nothing to us today and I could only spot a few of them, but I’m reading on IMDb that there were dozens of them.

The film itself revels it its depiction of the foreign countries and the fact that at times it feels like a travel show, to the point where it actually becomes a bit indulgent too, but given that it’s a film which is 65 years old, it can be forgiven for that and for the fact that it is rather slow for our modern sensibilities including some long wide shots that seem to go on forever.

The film I’m that respect really belongs to a different era, also in terms of the depiction of women and its general attitude to them (there are some very uncomfortable lines about travelling the world to see the most beautiful women, which will make today’s audience cringe). On top of that, there are also some pretty dodgy stereotypes, not just about the British, which however cliche are actually quite funny, but some pretty racist views on people from India and Native American, both of which could be considered insulting today.

Having said that David Niven, despite the film itself doing next to nothing to build him up as a character, is splendid as you might expect him to be, constantly holding his cup of tea, perfectly dressed, quintessentially British, un-fussed by anything around him, while the score trumpets the notes from “Britannia rule the way” every few minutes. If ever there was a film which was due a proper remake (no, not that terrible one with Jackie Chan in 2004) this is one of them.

By the way, stay on for the extended end credits sequence designed by genius extraordinaire Saul Bass.

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