I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Around the World in 80 Days, 1956










Not Rated

I had not seen this year’s winner which was based on the best-selling fantasy novel by Jules Verne. Perhaps you may be more familiar with the remake from 2004 with Jackie Chan (I wasn’t, because I haven’t seen that one either). So I was completely unfamiliar with the storyline other than that I assumed it had something to do with traveling the world in under three months. It is about a wealthy English gentleman in 1872, Phileas Fogg, who wagers that he can circumvent the world in 80 days (by modes that end up including: a rickshaw, a hot air balloon, a train, an elephant, a stagecoach, and a boat). He brings along his manservant, Passepartout, whom he met only the day before and hired him for his adherence to his most important concern: punctuality. (That trait plays a big revealing role at the end of the film.)

Here’s the proposed route:

Passepartout, who’s got a mustache I’d like to see come back in style [insert sarcastic eyebrow raise here], is really the most interesting part about this film. He’s clearly the comic relief and keeps this slow-moving film moving a tad faster. His name is an interesting one: in French, passe-partout means master key or all-purpose. But, the three words independently, passe par tout, literally mean passing (or going) by all. No doubt Verne had that last definition in mind when writing about a character who would travel the world by various means and see it all. I’m not sure why a Mexican is playing said Frenchman
or why an American (a VERY young Shirley MacLaine) is playing an Indian princess! I’d like a word with the casting department.

The international cast:
 

In fact, that would be an interesting conversation because then we could talk about all the cameos in the film. The producer, Michael Todd, was a rookie with no money to back up his ambitious idea. He supposedly “invented” the term and use of cameos. In order to draw audiences and gain popularity, he persuaded celebrities to make very small appearances in his film. There are so many in this film (over 4 dozen), that there is a special feature on the DVD devoted to the list. Unfortunately, the only one I recognized in the actual film was Frank Sinatra.

There was enough action to keep me interested (at least while I multi-tasked playing Sudoku), but the film surely could have been edited down by cutting back the sweeping shots of landscape. I tried to keep in mind that this movie was a great way to expose audiences to worldly scenery and countryside. I know international travel wasn’t as popular as it is today. But now, thankfully, we can get even better images than these by just doing an image search on Google or buying some Blu-ray discs.

It’s fun to think back at how it must have been for Verne to write this fantastical science fiction novel about world travel… how absurd! My, how we take for granted how easy it is to hop on a plane and travel to a remote part of the world. I haven’t read the book itself, but learned that the hot air balloon ride wasn’t even part of the story. It is briefly mentioned as an option and then disregarded as “impossible”. Duh. But I guess with a little movie magic, it looks like a piece of cake. In fact, everyone should have one of those things in their backyard when airfare gets a little too steep.

This movie was up against “The King and I”, “Friendly Persuation”, “Giant”, and “The Ten Commandments”. I’ve only seen “The King and I” and I hope it came in a close second. “Around the World in 80 Days” was nominated for eight awards and took home five (including Adapted Screenplay, Color Cinematography, Musical Score (of a Drama or Comedy), and Film Editing). Interestingly, this was the first year that all the Best Picture nominees were in color.

FAVORITE SCENE:

There was some entertaining slapstick comedy in the scene when they arrive in San Francisco. It was funny to see how the “Americans” were portrayed. But my favorite look came from the piano player who looked back as Fogg and Passepartout left the saloon. Ol’ Blue Eyes himself was providing the music, of course.


LESSONS LEARNED:

Make sure you trust your travel agent or at least have all the details about your transportation in order when taking a trip. You don’t want to be left somewhere foreign without a proper connection.

When traveling abroad, take a minute (or a day) to really savor and appreciate the different culture and landscape.

Don’t let the International Date Line or Daylight Savings Time screw you. I get anxious about changing my clocks twice a year thinking I’ll make a mistake and arrive too early or miss something important. In fact, my husband and I did almost stand a friend of ours up for breakfast in Chicago one spring day… sorry again, Philene!

3 comments:

  1. Ok Aim, I've got to take a few issues with this post.

    Number one, as a former resident of San Francisco you should know that ridiculous ironic facial hair has made a serious comeback. Take this show for example: http://www.ifc.com/whisker-wars/ I'd be willing to bet that some hipster out there is sporting that 'stache.

    Number two, I know for a fact that you have probably seen The Ten Commandments at least eight times, as I feel we were forced to watch that during Holy Week at OLG every year.

    Other than that, kudos for so many blog updates in the past week! :)

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  2. I appreciate the comments Beth, even if you did have to put me in my place. ;)

    1. I'd like to retract my statement. I would like nothing more than to see someone try to bring that look back. We'll call it Sassy 'Stache.

    2. You're probably right... you have the better memory. However, I'm probably right too... I'd bet good money that I fell asleep at my desk each time.

    Love you!
    ~Aim

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  3. This is one of your best posts. Probably because I watched the movie with you.

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