A Year: Day to Day Men: 17th of October

Beautiful Morning

October 17, 1956, marks the release date of the film “Around the World in Eighty Days”.

“Around the World in Eighty Days” is a 1956 American epic adventure-comedy starring Cantinflas, the Mexican film actor and producer, and the English actor David Niven. It was produced by Michael Todd, who had never before produced a film, and released by United Artists. The screen play was based on Jules Verne’s novel of the same name and directed by Michael Anderson, who had directed the WWII film “The Dam Busters” the previous year.

The film was significant as the first of the so-called Hollywood “make-work” films, employing dozens of film personalities. Besides Niven and Cantinflas as the main characters, Shirley MacLaine had the role of Princess Acuda, and Robert Newton played Detective Fix, his last role in film before his death. More than forty famous performers made cameo appearances, including Marlene Dietrich, Ronald Colman, George Raft, and Frank Sinatra.

The filming of “Around the World in Eighty Days” took place in late 1955, from August 9 to December 20. The crew worked fast, shooting 680,000 feet of film in seventy-five days; the final film was edited down to just under 26,000 feet. The film cost just under six million dollars to make, using 112 locations in thirteen countries and 140 stage sets. The crew traveled to every country portrayed in the final film, including France, India, Spain, Thailand, and Japan. There were 68,894 people, including extras, in the final cast of the film; the photographers also used almost 8,000 animals in the shooting.

The famous bullfight scene in Spain with Cantinflas as the matador included ten thousand extras, using all 6,500 residents of the nearby town of Chinchon and another 3,500 from other nearby towns to fill the stadium seats. The scene of the collapsing train bridge was filmed partially with models; the overhead shot was full scale, but the bridge collapse was done using a large-scale model on a stage set. All the steamships in the first half of the movie are models, shot in an outdoor studio tank.

“Around the World in Eighty Days” premiered on October 17 at the Rivoli Theater in New York City. The film was nominated for eight Oscars, of which it was awarded five, beating out its competitors: “Giant”, “The Ten Commandments” and “The King and I”. It won Best Picture, Best Color Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Music, and Best Writing for an Adapted Screenplay. Although not nominated for Best Song, the film’s theme “Around the World: became popular and a hit for Bing Crosby in 1957.

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