Around The World In 80 Days/Young

January 29, 2007


Growing up in the midwest in the 50’s, Minneapolis along with many other cities had a theater to show Cinerama presentations. While Around The World was shot in Todd-AO, the curved screen was the link between the two formats, and it showed in one particular theater for one year with the viewer having to purchase reserve tickets in advance, just like seeing a play today. The sound was in 6 channels (long before dolby) with unsurpassed picture quality on a 26′ by 60′ curved screen (widescreen format). To the younger generations readers please keep in mind that this was before stereo recordings. You listened to your music through one speaker (mono). The high picture quality was achieved by using 70mm film which is like the difference between taking pictures with a rolleiflex or hasselblad camera or a Leica or Nikon 35mm camera. The image size is 4 times larger so it will be sharper and clearer. This film was as big a deal if not more so than Titanic!

Based on the Jules Verne novel Around The World in 80 Days, the lavish Michael Todd production starred David Niven (Phileas Fogg), Cantinflas (Passepartout), and Shirley MacLaine (Princess Aouda) in a story of Phileas betting his entire fortune (or was it?) that he can go around the world in eighty days. The list of cameo appearances include such notables as Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich, Red Skeleton, and Peter Lorre. In fact, upon closer examination, it was a whose who and you weren’t hip if you didn’t appear in the film! By modern 2007 standards it might appear outdated but if one can look past a little of that, its truly a wonderful piece of film making and in this reviewers opinion far better than numerous remake upon remake of this film (isn’t this usually true?).

Much has been discussed about Victor Young and the fact that his one and only Oscar (this film) was after his death! As just one small example, Victor achieved 15 Oscar nominations from 1939-1944 with no wins! Talk about being overlooked! In 1944 Young wrote a classic standard Stella By Starlight for a picture call The Uninvited starring Ray Milland. It has since been recorded by hundreds of artists and is considered one of the better songs ever written. It was even nominated! You figure that one out because this reviewer can’t! In our modern day age of James Newton Howard and Thomas Newman being shut out year after year neither can even come close to 0-15 in six years!

As of January 2007 there are 22 Soundtrack Collector listings of music from this film. This includes a bootleg, compilations, cd’s and several long play albums. With nearly 30 minutes of additional original soundtrack material this legitimate recording is the only one for you to have in your collection, especially if you are new to this recording. If you have one of the older Decca, MCA, or other labels it is still well worth the reasonable price to upgrade to this Hit Parade recording.

The score itself uses the marvelous main theme, one of the more memorable in Hollywood history, in several of the tracks in different styles and tempos. “Passepartout” is another wonderful theme, light and whimsical, also used throughout the soundtrack. Each locale that Fogg goes to has its own theme depicting the country be it India, France, Spain, Japan, and especially the old time west in the USA. One of the real special treats is the “Sioux Attack”, an eight minute previously unreleased track of pure Americana with some “William Tell” and “La Cucaracha” thrown in for good measure as only Victor could orchestrate. In fact along the way of this whimsical adventure you will hear “Rule Britannia”, “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, “Maxixe”, and other popular melodies when called for. Because of the length of the film and the reserved seating Victor also included “Intermission” and “Exit Music”. The “Exit Music” includes the main title as well as a reprise of “Transcontinental Railway”, a track written to depict traveling, complete with the chug chug and clacking of the train.

Liner notes are by Dider C. Deutsch and are written in a way that even the casual listener can understand! There is a section about Victor Young, Mike Todd, the making of the film and non technical music notes about the various tracks. One of the things that this reviewer has always recommended is to have every Oscar winning score in your collection if at all possible. This is no exception!

Golden Scores Rating is (****1/2)

Track listing

1. Overture (02:59)

2. Passepartout (01:46)

3. First Stop: Paris (02:51)

4. Aloft Above France (04:56)

5. The Descent (01:07)

6. A Landing In Figueroas (01:05)

7. Passepartout Dances (01:38)

8. Invitation To A Bull Fight/Entrance Of The Bull March (02:38)

9. Arrival in Suez (00:24)

10. Bombay Harbor (00:49)

11. India Countryside (03:58)

12. A Princess In Distress (05:20)

13. Royal Barge of Siam (02:40)

14. Yokohama (02:21)

15. Intermission (01:05)

16. Around The World – part 2 (01:09)

17. Transcontinental Railway (03:57)

18. A Weak Bridge (03:00)

19. Sioux Attack (08:14)

20. Prairie Sail Car (01:51)

21. Land Ho (06:58)

22. End Credits (06:26)

23. Exit Music (05:01)

Total Duration: 01:12:13

Executive Producer is Bill Buster

Digital Remastering is by Tom Daly

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