July 3 in 20th Century Cinema

July 3, 1957 in UK cinemas: David Niven goes Around The World In 80 Days

“It’s A Wonderful World, If You’ll Only Take The Time To Go Around It!”

Around the World in 80 Days is a 1956 American epic adventure-comedy film starring David Niven and Cantinflas, produced by the Michael Todd Company and released by United Artists.

The epic picture was directed by Michael Anderson and produced by Mike Todd, with Kevin McClory and William Cameron Menzies as associate producers. The screenplay was written by James Poe, John Farrow, and S. J. Perelman based on the classic novel of the same name by Jules Verne. The music score was composed by Victor Young, and the Todd-AO 70 mm cinematography (shot in Technicolor) was by Lionel Lindon. The film’s seven-minute-long animated title sequence, shown at the end of the film, was created by award-winning designer Saul Bass.

The film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

In 1872, an English gentleman Phileas Fogg (Niven) claims he can circumnavigate the world in eighty days. He makes a £20,000 wager (around to £1.6 million today) with four sceptical fellow members of the Reform Club (each contributing £5,000 to the bet) that he can arrive back eighty days from exactly 8:45 pm that evening.

Together with his resourceful valet, Passepartout (Cantinflas), Fogg goes hopscotching around the globe generously spending money to encourage others to help him get to his destinations faster so he can accommodate tight steamship schedules. They set out on the journey from Paris by hot air balloon upon learning the mountain train tunnel is blocked. The two accidentally end up in Spain, where Passepartout engages in a comic bullfight. Next, he goes to Brindisi. Meanwhile, suspicion grows that Fogg has stolen £55,000 (around £4.4 million today) from the Bank of England so Police Inspector Fix (Robert Newton) is sent out by Scotland Yard to trail him (starting in Suez) and keeps waiting for a warrant to arrive so he can arrest Fogg in the British ports they visit. In India, Fogg and Passepartout rescue young widow Princess Aouda (Shirley MacLaine) from being forced into a funeral pyre with her late husband. The three visit Hong Kong, Yokohama, San Francisco, and the Wild West. After sailing across the Atlantic, and only hours short of winning his wager, Fogg is arrested upon arrival at Liverpool, by the diligent yet misguided Inspector Fix.

At the jail, the humiliated Fix informs Fogg that the real culprit was caught in Brighton. Though he is now exculpated, he has insufficient time to reach London before his deadline and thus has lost everything – but the love of the winsome Aouda. Salvation is at hand when, upon returning to London, Passepartout buys a newspaper and sees it is still Saturday. Fogg then realizes that by traveling east towards the rising sun and by crossing the International Date Line, he has gained a day. There is still time to reach the Reform Club and win the bet. Fogg arrives at the club just before the 8:45 pm chime. Aouda and Passepartout then arrive, surprising everyone, as no woman has ever entered the Reform Club before.

The film boasts a huge cast, with co-stars including Robert Morley, Noel Coward, John Gielgud, Cesar Romero, Peter Lorre, George Raft, Frank Sinatra, Buster Keaton, John Mills, Glynis Johns, Richard Wattis and Keye Luke. [Wikipedia]

July 3, 1958 in UK cinemas: A Night To Remember

“THE GREATEST SEA DRAMA IN LIVING MEMORY”

A Night to Remember is a British drama film adaptation of Walter Lord’s eponymous 1955 book, which recounts the final night of RMS Titanic. Adapted by Eric Ambler and directed by Roy Ward Baker, the film stars Kenneth More and features Ronald Allen, Robert Ayres, Honor Blackman, Michael Goodliffe, and Laurence Naismith.

It was filmed in the United Kingdom. The production team, supervised by producer William MacQuitty, used blueprints of the ship to create the sets accurately, while Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall and ex-Cunard Commodore Harry Grattidge both worked as technical advisors on the film.

The film’s World Premiere was on Thursday, 3 July 1958 at the Odeon Leicester Square. Titanic survivor Elizabeth Dowdell attended the American premiere in New York on Tuesday 16 December 1958. The film received critical acclaim upon release.

Among the many films about the Titanic, A Night to Remember has long been regarded as the high point by Titanic historians and survivors alike for its accuracy, despite its modest production values when compared with the Oscar-winning film Titanic (1997). [Wikipedia]

July 3, 1962 in US cinemas: Burt Lancaster is the Birdman Of Alcatraz

“INSIDE THE ROCK CALLED ALCATRAZ THEY TRIED TO CHAIN A VOLCANO THEY CALLED ‘THE BIRDMAN’!”

Birdman of Alcatraz is a biographical drama film starring Burt Lancaster and directed by John Frankenheimer.

It is a largely fictionalized version of the life of Robert Stroud, a federal prison inmate known as the “Birdman of Alcatraz” because of his life with Cinema-US-07-03-1962birds. In spite of the title, much of the action is set at Leavenworth Prison, where Stroud was jailed with his birds. When moved to Alcatraz he was not allowed to keep any pets.

The film was adapted by Guy Trosper from the 1955 book by Thomas E. Gaddis. It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Burt Lancaster), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Telly Savalas), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Thelma Ritter) and Best Cinematography, Black-and-White. [Wikipedia]

In 1912, the notorious and violent prisoner Robert Franklin Stroud is transferred to the Leavenworth Prison convicted for murdering a man. When a guard cancels the visit of his mother, Elizabeth Stroud, due to a violation of the internal rules, he stabs and kills the guard and goes to trial three times. He is sentenced to be executed by the gallows, but his mother appeals to President Woodrow Wilson who commutes his sentence to life imprisonment. However, the warden, Harvey Shoemaker, decides to keep Stroud in solitary for the rest of his life. One day, Stroud finds a sparrow that has fallen from the nest in the yard and he raises the bird until it is strong enough to fly. Stroud finds a motivation for his life raising and caring for birds and becomes an expert in birds. He marries Stella Johnson and together they run a business, providing medicine developed by Stroud. But a few years after, Stroud is transferred to Alcatraz and has to leave his birds behind. [IMDB]

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