Around the World in Eighty Days (1956)

Around the World in Eighty Days
Shirley MacLaine, David Niven,
Cantinflas, and Buster Keaton

'Around the World in Eighty Days' is a spectacular comedy adventure film made in 1956 directed by Michael Anderson and produced by the Michael Todd Company. It was based on the 1873 classic novel of the same name by Jules Verne and the plot has become well known. A nineteenth century Englishman, Phileas Fogg, tries to win a 20,000 pound wager by travelling around the world within eighty days. He and his valet Passepartout are pursued by a detective, Fix, who believes Fogg has stolen the money.

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The film was a great commercial success, grossing some $33 million within 18 months of release, against production costs of $6 million. It was also well received by the critics and was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning five, including Best Picture. The music score, composed by Victor Young, was nominated for an Oscar but strangely, the song, "Around the World", was not nominated although it became a hit for both Bing Crosby and Eddie Fisher and has since become an evergreen standard.

The main stars of the film are David Niven as Phileas Fogg, the upright Englishman who makes the bet that he can traverse the planet in 80 days, Cantinflas, the Latin-American comedian, who plays Passepartout, Fogg's servant. In a canny business move, Todd expanded Passepartout's role, elevating it to that of action-hero and drawing upon the Mexican superstar's popularity to generate huge ticket sales in Latin America. The other featured stars are Shirley MacLaine as Princess Aouda and Robert Newton as the mysterious detective Fix who had been dispatched from England in search of the bank robber. A remarkable feature of the movie is the amazing number of Hollywood stars who appear in small, cameo roles. These include John Gielguid, Frank Sinatra, Charles Boyer, Cesar Romero, Glynis Johns, Peter Lorre, Marlene Dietrich, Buster Keaton, neewsreader Ed Murrow and many more, some forty in all, adding a wealth of color and interest to the film.

The movie was designed to be shown on special curved screens in theaters equipped with Todd-AO projectors, but to accommodate the many theaters without this equipment Todd shot two versions simultaneously each running at different frame speeds.

The movie has been criticised as being too long but it is undoubtedly a masterpiece of beautifully shot Technicolour brilliance, displaying a fast-moving and engaging story line with superb acting. A wonderful family fantasy film.

Main Cast

David Niven ... Phileas Fogg
Cantinflas ... Passepartout
Shirley MacLaine ... Princess Aouda
Robert Newton ... Mr. Fix

Cameo Appearances

Charles Boyer ... Monsieur Gasse, balloonist
Joe E. Brown ... Station Master, rural Nebraska
Martine Carol ... Tourist, Paris
John Carradine ... Col. Proctor Stamp
Charles Coburn ... Clerk, Hong Kong
Ronald Colman ... Railway Official, India
Noël Coward ... Hesketh-Baggott
Finlay Currie ... Stuart, whist partner
Reginald Denny ... Police Chief, Bombay
Andy Devine ... First Mate, S.S. Henrietta
Marlene Dietrich ... Hostess, Barbary Coast Saloon
Luis Miguel Dominguín ... Bullfighter
Fernandel ... Coachman, Paris
John Gielgud ... Foster, Fogg's former butler
Hermione Gingold ... Sportin' Lady
José Greco ... Flamenco dancer
Sir Cedric Hardwicke ... General Sir Francis Gromarty, India
Trevor Howard ... Falletin
Glynis Johns ... Companion
Buster Keaton ... Conductor
Evelyn Keyes ... Flirt
Beatrice Lillie ... Revivalist, London
Peter Lorre ... Steward, S.S. Carnatic
Edmund Lowe ... Engineer, S.S. Henrietta
A.E. Matthews ... Club Member
Victor McLaglen ... Helmsman, S.S. Henrietta
John Mills ... Cabby in London
Robert Morley ... Ralph (Reform Club)
Edward R. Murrow ... Narrator, prologue
Jack Oakie ... Captain of S.S. Henrietta
George Raft ... Bouncer at Barbary Coast Saloon
Cesar Romero ... Henchman
Frank Sinatra ... Barbary Coast Saloon Pianist
Red Skelton ... Drunk, Barbary Coast saloon
Richard Wattis ... Insp. Hunter
Harcourt Williams ... Hinshaw


Director ... Michael Anderson
Producer ... Michael Todd
Production Company ... The Michael Todd Co.
Story By ... Based on the 1873 novel "Le Tour du Mond en Quatre-Vingts Jours" by Jules Verne
Screenplay ... S. J. Perelman, James Poe, John Farrow
Music ... Victor Young
Cinematography ... Lionel Lindonn
Format ... Color (Eastmancolor)
Distribution Company ... United Artists
Release date ... October 17, 1956
Running time ... 175 minutes

Academy Awards

Five Wins:
Best Picture ... Michael Todd, Producer
Cinematography ... Lionel Lindon
Film Editing ... Gene Ruggiero, Paul Weatherwax
Music ... Victor Young
Film Editing ... Gene Ruggiero, Paul Weatherwax
Screenplay - Adapted ... S. J. Perelman, James Poe, John Farrow
Three Unsuccessful Nominations:
Best Director ... Michael Anderson
Costume Design ... Miles White
Art Direction/Set Direction ... James W. Sullivan, Ken Adam/Ross J. Dowd