MORE LIKE 80 YEARS
When Mike Todd made the megaboring Around the World in 80 Days, he had in mind the kind of travelogue-like story that would showcase his TODD-AO process, which originated from Cinerama. Todd was keenly aware that This is was demonstration and he was very sensitive to the critics’ charge that the 3 camera 2 seam gimmick might not be able to successfully project a real story (later tried with The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm and How the West Was Won). He said: “You can’t spend your life on the roller coaster. Someday someone’s going to want to say ‘I love you’ and the seams are going to get in the way.” Using TODD-AO first with Oklahoma!, and hunting down the next appropriate “big scale” project—having seriously considered Laurence Olivier doing Richard III, then War and Peace, then Moby Dick—he remembered his childhood love for Jules Verne’s tale and went out to huckster up the $6 million and the many cameos that would give his movie roadshow prestige. To this day, many of us still can’t figure out why audiences went so wild over it for so long; the “Oh look, there’s so and so, and isn’t that what’s his face?” stargazing and the huge panoramic screen that displayed his “bug’s eye” process aren’t enough to add up to both the Oscar and the N.Y. Critics award as Best Picture. Or the Madison Square Garden fiasco that was the movie’s first anniversary party, but then, this was an “event,” which is what the movie was as opposed to is. The only thing going for the dullfest today is Saul Bass’s design for the credits. Cantinflas would suck the sap once more for American moviegoers a few years later with Pepe. (When Todd asked David Niven to play PhileasFogg, Niven reportedly said, “I’ll do it for nothing.” If Todd held him to that, and he didn’t, it might have best explained why Niven, two years later, won a Best Actor Oscar for his theatre nudger in Separate Tables.) Some of the famous who did cameos: Andy Devine, Beatrice Lillie, Buster Keaton, Cesar Romero, Charles Boyer, Charles Coburn, Edward R. Murrow, Evelyn Keyes, Fernandel, Finlay Currie, Frank Sinatra, George Raft, Gilbert Roland, Glynis Johns, Harcourt Williams, Hermione Gingold, Jack Oakie, Joe E. Brown, John Carradine, John Mills, José Greco, Luis Miguel Dominguín, Marlene Dietrich, Mike Mazurki, Noel Coward, Peter Lorre, Red Skelton, Reginald Denny, Robert Morley, Ronald Colman, Cedric Hardwicke, John Gielgud, Trevor Howard and Victor McLaglen.
ROLL OVER IMAGES\
Text COPYRIGHT © 2000 RALPH BENNER All Rights Reserved.