Around The World In 80 Days | 1956
- DIRECTOR |
- Michael Anderson
- CAST |
- David Niven,
- Shirley MacLaine,
- Robert Newton,
- Charles Boyer,
- Joe E Brown,
- Martine Carol,
- John Carradine,
- Charles Coburn,
- Ronald Colman,
- Melville Cooper,
- Noël Coward,
- Finlay Currie,
- Reginald Denny,
- Marlene Dietrich,
- John Gielgud,
- Hermione Gingold,
- Cedric Hardwicke,
- Trevor Howard,
- Glynis Johns,
- Buster Keaton,
- Evelyn Keyes,
- Beatrice Lillie,
- Peter Lorre,
- Edmund Lowe,
- Victor McLaglen,
- AE Matthews,
- Mike Mazurki,
- John Mills,
- Robert Morley,
- Jack Oakie,
- George Raft,
- Gilbert Roland,
- Cesar Romero,
- Frank Sinatra,
- Red Skelton,
- Ronald Squire,
- Harcourt Williams
Ah, the great old days before digital imagery, when all those extras and sets existed in the physical world. First, the statistics, so beloved of publicity departments: 50 guest stars, 68,894 people on screen (don’t trust me, count’em), eight different countries; four million air-passenger miles travelled, 112 exterior locations, 140 sets in six Hollywood studios plus studios in England, Hong Kong and Japan, 34 species of animal and 33 assistant directors (interesting juxtaposition).
The ambitious plan originally was to employ a director from the relevant country to direct each sequence, but Brit director Michael Anderson, who kicked off with an efficient if uninspired job in London was handed the whole assignment by producer-showman Mike Todd.
Associate Producer William Cameron Menzies, the brilliant production designer who storyboarded Gone With The Wind, was given responsibility for the exterior locations in Europe, Colorado and Oklahoma.
As it turned out, a great deal of the film was made in the studios (you’re not going to fly all those guest stars halfway round the world for a one-minute cameo).
The opening scenes were naturally shot in London, beginning with posh Victorians strolling on Rotten Row, the riding path running along the southern perimeter of Hyde Park.
The parade of the Scots Guard was filmed at Wellington Barracks on the south side of Birdcage Walk in Westminster. The scene was supposedly filmed clandestinely with a camera hidden in a vegetable stall. So that’s a widescreen Todd-AO camera hidden in a street stall on the Guards’ parade ground, then? Hmm…
The home of globetrotting hero Phileas Fogg (David Niven) is 17 Belgrave Square, in the heart of posh Belgravia, a central London district of barely distinguishable cream streets and squares. The intimidatingly grand houses bristle with security devices and many sport grandiose embassy plaques. Fogg’s home now houses the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
In Jules Verne’s book, Fogg accepts the challenge to travel around the world at the Reform Club, 104 Pall Mall, SW1, a real London club and still going strong, though its interior, along with that of ‘Baggott’s Employment Office’ and ‘Lloyd’s of London’, was recreated in the studio at Elstree in Hertfordshire.
The exterior of the club seen in the film is that of the Institute of Directors Club, 116 Pall Mall. Founded as the United Service Club (and known as The Senior) catering to the upper echelons of the military – it was the Duke of Wellington’s favourite club – it slowly fizzled out after merging with several other clubs and losing its distinct identity before being taken over by the Institute of Directors.
The interior of the club became ‘Claridges Hotel’ for Oliver Parker’s 1999 version of Oscar Wilde’s An ideal Husband, the palace of the Viceroy of India for Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi, a tearoom in Keep The Aspidistra Flying and even suffered the indignity of being a greasy spoon for Julian Simpson’s 1999 The Criminal.
Ironically, it’s the Reform Club that’s since gone on to become a regular screen star, in films such as Bond movies Die Another Day and Quantum of Solace, Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, the live action debut of the Peruvian bear Paddington, along with Miss Potter, The Four Feathers, Nicholas Nickleby, even supplying the lobby of the ‘Dolphin Hotel, New York’ for the 2007 adaptation of Stephen King’s 1408.
Passepartout (Cantinflas) pedals his penny-farthing bicycle along Upper Cheyne Row off Oakley Street, north of Albert Bridge, Chelsea, SW3, to Victoria Square, a quiet little enclave tucked away to the northwest of Buckingham Palace Road, SW1 (which is where the Schlegel sisters live in Merchant-Ivory’s film of Howards End).
The eye-catching ‘pepperpot’ building at 5 Lower Grosvenor Place at the end of the narrow road leading out of the northeastern side of Victoria Square became the exterior of Hesketh-Baggott’s Employment Office, where manservant Mr Foster (John Gielgud) complains to agency boss Hesketh-Baggott (Noël Coward).
The position of gentleman’s gentleman goes to Passepartout, who unexpectedly finds himself arriving with his new employer in Paris, at the Gare du Nord, rue du Faubourg Saint Martin. From here the pair travels by taxi, via place Vendome and rue de Castiglione, to the Thomas Cook travel bureau in the arcades of the rue de Rivoli.
The film ran into a spot of trouble with the law here when around forty out-of-period cars were spirited away out of camera range without the necessary permissions being obtained.
Don’t bother trying hoping to visit the dinky French village from which Fogg and Passepartout make their balloon ascent – it’s simply a studio set on the Universal Studios backlot.
The balloon drifts gracefully over the Chateau de Maintenon, Maintenon, about 40 miles west of Paris in the Eure-et-Loir department of France. Although it was originally built in the 13th Century, the chateau looks much more recent, having been substantially reconstructed in the 17th Century for Madame de Maintenon, the second wife of Louis XIV. It's now open to visitors.
Oddly, they've soon drifted northwest of Paris, passing above Chateau de Vigny in the town of Vigny, Val d'Oise, built in 1500 and altogether more martial in appearance than Maintenon. It's not open to the public but it's appeared quite regularly on screen, notably in Alain Resnais' La Vie Est Un Roman and Bernard Tavernier's La Fille de d'Artaganan as well as TV series Versailles and the Rihanna video for Te Amo.
The balloon lands, unexpectedly, in Spain, where the village is also a studio set. When Passepartout is obliged to participate in a coyly bloodless bullfight, this is staged in the arcaded town square, Plaza Mayor, of Chinchon, about 25 miles southeast of Madrid on the M311 Valencia Road. The square, with its photogenic wooden loggias, was dressed up for a fiesta and 6,500 locals were togged up in period gear.
Plaza Mayor really is used for the barbaric ‘entertainment’ of bullfighting during the late summer, but a more civilised and guilt-free way to see the square is to try one of the many little restaurants which overlook it.
The docks at ‘Suez’ in Egypt were recreated on a soundstage at the RKO Studios in Hollywood, where we get the first sight of HMS Mongolia which takes Fogg and co to what was Bombay and is now Mumbai.
With a bit of ingenuity from the art department, the same boat reappears throughout the movie, as the SS Rangoon from 'Calcutta' to 'Hong Kong', the SS General Grant to 'San Francisco' and finally the ill-fated Henrietta from 'New York' to 'Liverpool'.
The Indian train journey is real, although 'Bombay Railway Station', where Passepartout only just manages to board the moving train ahead of an angry mob, is Sreemangal, Sylhet, in what is now Bangladesh. The train trundles through the lush rainforest of Lawachara National Park.
That spectacular girder bridge with its turreted entrance, though, is hundreds of miles to the east. It’s the Lansdowne Bridge over the Indus River in Sukkur, about 150 miles north of Hyderabad in Pakistan.
Needless to say, the ‘Bombay’ street and the ‘Pagoda of Pillaji’, where Princess Aouda (an embarrassingly brown-faced Shirley MacLaine) escapes ritual suttee, are pure Hollywood. The waterfront dive in 'Calcutta' is again back at RKO.
Fogg has once again to employ ingenuity after missing the boat to 'Yokohama', heading to Japan in a junk (a traditional Chinese sailing ship).
Despite the pressure of time, Fogg and co seem to be taking the scenic route, as the journey from Calcutta to Hong Kong finds their boat cruising along the Chao Praya River in Thailand, past the Grand Palace of Bangkok. They're briefly greeted by the golden barge belonging to King Phumiphon, who lent it, with crew, for the production. You can still occasionally see a similar river procession.
The Grand Palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam (later Thailand) since 1782. The king, along with his court and government were based here until 1925 and it's still used for official events and royal ceremonies.
Passepartout, however, manages to arrive in Japan before them and takes in a bit of sightseeing.
The enormous seated bronze statue is the Great Buddha of Kamakura, on the grounds of Kotokuin Temple, Kamakura, about 30 miles southwest of Tokyo. Dating from 1252, the statue was originally housed in a temple but typhoons and tidal waves took their toll and since 1495, it's stood in the open air.
Heian Shrine is surprisingly quite modern, constructed in 1895 to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto (which was Japan's first capital). Passepartout enters through the giant torii gate into the wide open court surrounded by museums, replicas of the original Imperial Palace from the Heian Period, but built on a slightly smaller scale.
Needless to say, the 'theatre' at which Passepartout becomes part of a human pyramid, is back in Hollywood.
News of Fogg's arrival in the USA stirs up excitement back in England, where two sporty ladies (Hermione Gingold and Glynis Johns) place their own personal bet on the outcome as they sit outside The Grenadier, 18 Wilton Row, Belgravia, SW1. This historic pub is still going strong, though you're unlikely to stumble across it by accident. It stands on a narrow cul-de-sac off Belgrave Square (where Fogg lives), but once you find it you can't miss the bright red sentry box which stands outside.
You'll notice that the pub's ceiling is papered with money. The legend is that The Grenadier was named after young Cedric, a soldier caught cheating at cards and punished by being beaten to death. Visitors hang money from the ceiling in an attempt to pay off his debt, but continued ghostly sightings imply Cedric hasn't reached his target yet.
By now, you won’t be surprised to hear that the ‘San Francisco’ election rally and Clancy’s, the Barbary Coast dive where George Raft pairs up with Marlene Dietrich as Frank Sinatra tinkles the ivories, are all also Hollywood.
There are echoes of silent classic The General when Buster Keaton puts in an appearance as the (talking!) guard for transcontinental railway journey. This was filmed on the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway, running 45 miles between Durango and Silverton alongside Route 550 through the spectacular 3,000-foot San Juan Mountains in South Colorado.
You can ride on the train – travel to Silverton by bus and make the one-way journey back – but be aware it takes up a full day.
The film-friendly railroad is also seen in Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, How The West Was Won, Ticket To Tomahawk and Across The Wide Missouri.
When the train is held up by a buffalo stampede (2,448 of them – not 2,447, not 2,449), we're suddenly in Oklahoma. The sequence uses the herd found in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, where fake railway lines had to be laid down for the film. There's still a herd here, though now it's estimated at 650 head of bison.
The scene was filmed, along with the ‘Indian pow-wow’ where Passepartout is nearly burned at the stake, in the now gone Craterville Park Ranch Resort near Lawton, on I-44, about 70 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, which closed down shortly after filming.
The final leg of the sea journey from 'New York' to 'Liverpool', with the Henrietta slowly dismantled to feed its own furnace, was filmed offshore at Newport Beach, just south of Los Angeles.
It's not all bad, though, as Fogg decides to marry the fortunately amenable Princess and sends out Passepartout to find a suitable clergyman. The energetic Passepartout runs from Belgravia all the way to Knightsbridge, to rouse the Reverend Wilson from his house at 12 Pelham Crescent, London SW7.
It's nearby, at the junction of Pelham Crescent and Pelham Place, that Passepartout sees the newspaper vendor and realises that it's still Saturday and all is not lost...