Film Review – AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS (1956)

AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS (1956, USA) ***½
Adventure, Comedy, Romance
dist. United Artists; pr co. Michael Todd Company; d. Michael Anderson, John Farrow (uncredited – Spanish sequences); w. James Poe, John Farrow, S.J. Perelman (based on the book by Jules Verne); pr. Michael Todd; assoc pr. William Cameron Menzies, Kevin McClory (uncredited); ph. Lionel Lindon (Technicolor. 35mm, 70mm. Todd-AO. 2.20:1); m. Victor Young; chor. Paul Godkin; ed. Howard Epstein, Gene Ruggiero; pd. Ken Adam (uncredited); ad. James W. Sullivan; set d. Ross Dowd; cos. Miles White; m/up. Edith Keon; sd. Ted Bellinger, Fred Hynes, Joseph I. Kane (4-Track Stereo (Mag-optical) (35 mm prints) (1956) | Mono (optical) (35 mm prints) (re-release prints) | 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System) | 4-Track Stereo (Perspecta Sound encoding) (35 mm magnetic prints) (1956)); sfx. Lee Zavitz; vfx. Fred Sersen (uncredited); titles. Saul Bass, Shamus Culhane; rel. 17 October 1956 (USA), 3 July 1957 (UK); cert: G/U; r/t. 167m.

cast: David Niven (Phileas Fogg), Cantinflas (Passepartout), Shirley MacLaine (Princess Aouda), Robert Newton (Inspector Fix), Charles Boyer (Monsieur Gasse – Thomas Cook Paris Clerk), Joe E. Brown (Fort Kearney Station Master), Martine Carol (Girl in Paris Railroad Station), John Carradine (Col. Stamp Proctor – San Francisco Politico), Charles Coburn (Steamship Company Hong Kong Clerk), Ronald Colman (Great Indian Peninsular Railway Official), Melville Cooper (Mr. Talley – Steward R.M.S ‘Mongolia’), Noël Coward (Roland Hesketh-Baggott – London Employment Agency Manager), Finlay Currie (Andrew Stuart), Reginald Denny (Bombay Police Inspector), Andy Devine (First Mate of the ‘S. S. Henrietta’), Marlene Dietrich (Barbary Coast Saloon Owner), Luis Miguel Dominguín (Bullfighter (as Luis Dominguin)), Fernandel (French Coachman), John Gielgud (Foster – Fogg’s Ex-Valet), Hermione Gingold (Sporting Lady), José Greco (Flamenco Dancer), Cedric Hardwicke (Sir Francis Cromarty – Bombay to Calcutta Train), Trevor Howard (Denis Fallentin – Reform Club Member), Glynis Johns (Sporting Lady’s Companion), Buster Keaton (Train Conductor – San Francisco to Fort Kearney), Evelyn Keyes (Tart – Paris), Beatrice Lillie (Leader of London Revivalist Group), Peter Lorre (Japanese Steward – S.S. Carnatic), Edmund Lowe (Engineer of the ‘S. S. Henrietta’), Victor McLaglen (Helmsman of the ‘S. S. Henrietta’), Tim McCoy (U.S. Cavalry Colonel), Mike Mazurki (Drunk in Hong Kong Dive), John Mills (London Carriage Driver), Robert Morley (Ralph – Bank of England Governor), Alan Mowbray (British Consul – Suez), Edward R. Murrow (Edward R. Murrow – Prologue Narrator), Jack Oakie (Captain of the ‘S. S. Henrietta’), George Raft (Barbary Coast Saloon Bouncer), Gilbert Roland (Achmed Abdullah), Cesar Romero (Achmed Abdullah’s Henchman), Frank Sinatra (Barbary Coast Saloon Pianist), Red Skelton (Drunk in Barbary Coast Saloon), A.E. Matthews (Club Member), Ronald Squire (Reform Club Member), Basil Sydney (Reform Club Member), Harcourt Williams (Hinshaw – Reform Club Aged Steward), Ronald Adam (Club Steward), Walter Fitzgerald (Club Member), Frank Royde (Clergyman), Robert Cabal (Elephant Driver-Guide).

Niven heads the huge cast as the supremely punctual Phileas Fogg, who places a £20,000 wager with several fellow members of London Reform Club, insisting that he can go around the world in eighty days (this, remember, is 1872). Together with his resourceful valet Passepartout (Cantinflas), Fogg sets out on his journey from Paris via balloon. Meanwhile, suspicion grows that Fogg has stolen his money from the Bank of England. Diligent Inspector Fix (Newton) is sent out by the bank’s president (Morley) to bring Fogg to justice. In India, Fogg and Passepartout rescue young widow Princess Aouda (MacLaine, in her third film) from being forced into committing suicide so that she may join her late husband. The threesome visit Hong Kong, Japan, San Francisco, and the Wild West. Only hours short of winning his wager, Fogg is arrested by the diligent Fix. This lavish production is more of a triumph of logistical organisation than offering any real dramatic or comic worth. The travelogue and episodic nature of the story is lovingly captured in Anderson’s widescreen frame. Shots of a busy Victorian London are realised with style, whilst others around the globe mix location footage and studio inserts. Niven is at his best as the epitome of a stiff-upper-lipped Englishman. Cantinflas offers energetic support and acrobatic comic relief, whilst MacLaine has little to do in her role as the liberated Indian princess. There are longueurs – notably an extended bullfight sequence and endless stock locational footage inserts. but there is also good humour and a spirit that carries the production through. Many past and present stars appeared in cameos. The last film of both Harcourt Williams and Newton. Runs for 183m with entr’acte and exit music. Remade in 2004.

AA: Best Picture (Mike Todd); Best Writing, Best Screenplay – Adapted (James Poe, John Farrow, S.J. Perelman); Best Cinematography, Color (Lionel Lindon); Best Film Editing (Gene Ruggiero, Paul Weatherwax); Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture (Victor Young)

AAN: Best Director (Michael Anderson); Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color (James W. Sullivan, Ken Adam, Ross Dowd); Best Costume Design, Color (Miles White)

Film Review – TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA (1970)

Image result for two mules for sister sara 1970TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA (USA, 1970) ***
      Distributor: Universal Pictures (USA), Rank Film Distributors (UK); Production Company: The Malpaso Company / Sanen Productions; Release Date: 28 May 1970 (USA), 19 July 1970 (UK); Filming Dates: 3 February 1969 – mid-May 1969; Running Time: 114m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: PG – contains strong violence and sexual threat.
      Director: Don Siegel; Writer: Albert Maltz (based on a story by  Budd Boetticher); Producer: Carroll Case, Martin Rackin; Director of Photography: Gabriel Figueroa; Music Composer: Ennio Morricone; Music Supervisor: Stanley Wilson; Film Editor: Robert F. Shugrue; Art Director: José Rodríguez Granada; Set Decorator: Pablo Galván; Costumes: Carlos Chávez, Helen Colvig; Make-up: Margarita Ortega, Frank Westmore; Sound: Jesús González Gancy, Ronald Pierce, Waldon O. Watson; Special Effects: Frank Brendel, León Ortega.
      Cast: Shirley MacLaine (Sara), Clint Eastwood (Hogan), Manolo Fábregas (Colonel Beltran), Alberto Morin (General LeClaire), Armando Silvestre (1st American), John Kelly (2nd American), David Povall (Juan), Ada Carrasco (Juan’s Mother), Pancho Córdova (Juan’s Father), José Chávez (Horacio), Pedro Galván, José Ángel Espinosa ‘Ferrusquilla’ (French Officer), Enrique Lucero (3rd American), Aurora Muñoz (Sara’s Friend), Xavier Marc (Yaqui Chief), Hortensia Santoveña (1st Woman in the Night), Rosa Furman (2nd Woman in the Night), José Torvay (Mexican Guerrilla), Margarito Luna (Mexican Guerrilla), Xavier Massé.
      Synopsis: A nun is rescued from three cowboys by a stranger who is on his way to do some reconnaissance, for a future mission to capture a French fort. Inevitably the two become good friends but the nun has a secret.
      Comment: A handsome low-key Western that coasts on the interactions between the two stars in a riff on THE AFRICAN QUEEN. MacLaine is sassy and funny as the nun and Eastwood adds a level of humour to his stranger persona carried forward from the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns of the mid-1960s. Don Siegel directs the story efficiently and the film is colourfully photographed on location in Mexico. Ennio Morricone’s score is witty and recalls his scores for Leone. Ultimately, this is a character-led story and as such the minimal plot does little to engage. There is a memorable sequence where MacLaine has to help remove an Indian arrow from Eastwood’s shoulder and another involving the blowing-up of a railway bridge. The result, however, is a diverting entertainment that coasts on the charisma of its two stars and also feels a little disposable.
      Notes: The second film collaboration between director Don Siegel and star Clint Eastwood.