Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Poll Results... and the next poll!

The winner by 10 votes (12 to 2, or 85% to 14% {yes, I know it isn't 100%}) is the 1954 version of 20,000 Leagues under the sea. Neither of the other two had much of a chance (e.g. zero votes), but the more recent version wasn't necessiarlly bad. It just had the misfortune to compete against a Steampunk classic.

But now, on to part two of the comparisions... "Around the World in 80 Days". As with the previous movies, I shall simply plagurize Amazon.com's reviews for a semi-non-biased description of each, and let the voting commence.

This Mike Todd production was a star-studded, multi-million dollar extravaganza when first released in 1956. It remains enjoyable family fare, but time has somewhat dulled its shine. Still, it compares favorably to the overly long, TV mini-series starring Pierce Brosnan and Eric Idle. Elegant David Niven plays the neurotically punctual Phileas Fogg, a British gent who is spurned on by a wager to prove he can travel around the world in 80 days. He is accompanied by his valet, played with persnickety humor by Cantinflas.

Nominated for several Academy Awards, this was written by John Farrow (Mia's dad) and S.J. Perelman, based on Jules Verne's 1873 classic. The fun part is the razzle-dazzle. Todd knew what he was doing with all those exotic locales and over 40 cameo appearances, including Charles Boyer, Ronald Colman, Marlene Dietrich, José Greco, Peter Lorre, Buster Keaton, Frank Sinatra, and Red Skelton. A very young Shirley MacLaine was painted and dyed to play a lively Indian Princess. --Rochelle O'Gorman Product DescriptionPhileas Fogg bet his fellow club members that he can circle the globe in eighty days. That may not be impressive today, but in 1872, it was nearly impossible. Accompanied by his valet, Passepartout, and the wandering Princess Aouda, Fogg crosses Europe, India, Japan, the Pacific and the United States.

I was enchanted by this miniseries in 1989 and to see it again after all these years I have not been disappointed. Pierce Brosnan is the quintessential Fogg, always proper and always meeting challenges with a stiff upper lip and a lot of Victorian can-do spirit. The cast is wonderful, including notably Eric Idle and Peter Ustinov. As one of the last of the great '80s all-star miniseries, this one competes for a place as the best. It's family-friendly, too, with plenty to delight all ages.

For those who've seen the edited DVD from which portions of the miniseries were cut, I have good news: This edition from Trinity actually has the whole thing. Nothing's missing here, with the full running time of 266 minutes. (And for those who didn't know, yes, it really is 266 minutes. The original miniseries was presented in 3 parts--not 2--of 2 hours each, including commercials.) I was fortunate enough to discover this version first. And best of all, it costs a lot less.

The 2004 version of Around the World in 80 Days is an entertaining hodge-podge of adventure, comedy, and scenery from across the globe. Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan, 24 Hour Party People), an obsessively precise inventor, bets that he can circumnavigate the planet in 80 days--considered impossible in the Victorian era. In this version, Jackie Chan plays a Chinese peasant who retrieves a stolen idol from the Bank of England, then convinces Fogg to hire him as a French valet so that Chan can get back to his village.

Chan supplies numerous spectacular fights against the forces trying to stop Fogg or get the idol, while Coogan is both funny and a surprisingly appealing romantic lead (he flirts with a fetching French painter who joins them). The various episodes--featuring cameos by Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Cleese, Owen Wilson, and Sammo Hung--are uneven, but a goofy good cheer prevails.

*** Good luck voting!***

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