Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Radio Theater: Orson Welles in Around the World in Eighty Days (10/23/1938)

Around the World in Eighty Days

Starring: Orson Welles, Ray Collins, Edgar Barrier, Eustace Wyatt, Frank Readick, Arlene Francis, Stefan Schnabel, Al Swenson, William Alland, Howard Hughes

Year: October 23, 1938

My Rating★★★

Available free from Indiana University Bloomington

I've never read this particular novel either, although it is on my list. However, I did watch the 1989 miniseries starring Pierce Brosnan as Phineas Fogg so I'm quite familiar with the story. 

Go to my Classic Hollywood page to find all my Classic Hollywood reviews!

Phineas Fogg is a wealthy Victorian gentleman who runs on time. Every moment of his life, down to the last second, is accounted for. So when members of his club place a wager with him that he cannot make it around the world in 80 days when he positively claims he can, well, the race is on. Phineas' journey involves steam trains, ships, boats, elephants, and more, all accompanied by his new French manservant Passepartout, a loyal man who likes his new master but also thinks he's CRAZY, and he wouldn't be far wrong. But the greatest question is, can Phineas actually deliver on his promise to make the trek in 80 days, or will his faith in Father Time ultimately fail him in the end?

This play is very nearly brilliant. Orson approaches the role of Phineas Fogg with a delightful bit of snobbery in his voice, making the character very memorable. I've heard Edgar Barrier before, playing the voice of the hotel manager in Private Lives, so it was fun to have him play Passepartout as well. He uses such an eccentric and hyper French accent that just works for the role.

The script is good, very, very good, but, due to the shortness of time, there are days and weeks that are simply mentioned in narration as having happened, Phineas hopping from train to boat, etc., without actually seeing these scenes. It's a shame, but also understandable that the audience is unable to experience everything. Unfortunately, this also means that the listeners don't have time to really engage with the love story so that bit feels a little, shall we say, sudden? Considering the lack of time, however, this play is concise, clear, and easy to follow, even for those with no familiarity with the story.

Around the World in Eighty Days is, quite simply, a fun romp around the world with Orson Welles. It's entertaining and quirky and one of my favorites of Orson's radio productions.

2 yorum:

  1. Dear Carissa,

    This radio program sounds fascinating! I, of course, am familiar with this story's title, but I have never read the book or seen a film version. It is such an interesting premise that I now would like to read the book, see a film, or hear this radio program, which sounds great. I am familiar with Edgar Barrier from the role of Raoul which he plays in the 1943 "Phantom of the Opera."

    By the way, PEPS is hosting three blogathons in the remainder of 2020, The 4th Annual Great Blogathon in October (https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/09/22/announcing-the-4th-annual-great-breening-blogathon/), The Third Annual Claude Rains Blogathon in November (https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/10/01/an-old-friend-is-never-an-added-guest-please-join-us-for-the-third-annual-claude-rains-blogathon/), and The 2nd Happy Holidays Blogathon
    (https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/10/01/announcing-the-2nd-happy-holidays-blogathon/). If you could join one or more of these blogathons, that would be wonderful. We could really use your talent!

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the invite, Tiffany. I'll take a look at the pages and sign-up for at least one of them.

      I hope you do get a chance to listen to the radio play. Orson Welles really excelled in this one.

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Thank you for your kind comments, which I adore!