This adaptation of the novel is far better than the 2004 one, but to be fair that doesn't take much doing. This film in short is pretty epic. It has massive landscape shots, huge numbers of cast members and it's a loooong film. Just over 3 hours long in fact, I'm pretty sure I read the book in shorter time than this!
There are a few points that have been changed from the novel but nothing to the extent of the 2004, and nothing that causes major upset to the overall telling of the story. The casting of David Niven as Phileas Fogg is pretty well done. He plays the straight laced English Gentleman very well, but of course he still gives him more charisma as lets face it, in the book Phileas Fogg has about as much charisma as a plank of wood.
The casting of Passepartout and Princess Aouda I had a bit more of an issue with. Passepartout is played by Cantinflas, a very famous Mexican Comedian of the time. They try to get around this by making him Spanish and we get a nice detour to Spain where we get to see him fight (a very small) bull. The casting of Shirley McLaine would be fine apart from she's about as far from an Indian Princess as you can get in terms of looks. She must have been kept indoors all her life out of the sun!
Other points I'm briefly going to make:
- The opening is just bizaare. I thought I was watching the wrong film for a start. There's a whole prologue which contains footage of the 1902 film, A Trip to the Moon and is then followed by an at least 5 minute long animated title sequence. It was nice to actually get to the film!
- They go on a balloon ride as well. It's not in the book people!
- There's a lot more drama with the capture of Passepartout by the Indians in America and the rescue of him. The actual rescue doesn't really feature in the book
- Few minor changes to weather, no storm on any of the boats and there's no snow in America, instead of having their wind powered sled, they travel by a wind powered boat that runs on the railway rails.
It's a good film, lots of cameos from famous people of the time, one of the first films to do that. It's certainly worth a watch if you have a spare 3 hours, and you also get to see some brilliant 50's racial stereotypes!