Home Video Reviews
Disc 2 (containing Part 2 of the film) is the one with the real surprises. "Around the World of Mike Todd" is a fascinating 1968 featurette on the late entrepreneur which features interview footage with his wife Liz Taylor, Gypsy Rose Lee, Ethel Merman, and others and is narrated by Orson Welles, dressed in what looks like some Napoleonic era military overcoat. Welles' narration teeters dangerously close to parody here (and seems like an early run-through for his mock-historical narration in the farce Start the Revolution Without Me, 1970) and is more likely to make you dismiss Todd as a vulgar and overbearing egotist - which he could be. That's clearly not the intention of the piece though which was created by the producer's son, Mike Todd, Jr., as a glowing testiment to his father's greatness. However, when you hear Liz Taylor's account of his whirlwind courtship of her and his relentless deal-making, you'll more likely to be put off by his non-stop chutzpah. Still, you have to admire the man's talent for self-promotion which is on shameless display in another extra - "Excerpts from Playhouse 90: Around the World in 90 Minutes." This footage from Todd's one year anniversary celebration of the release of his epic shows such media legends as Walter Cronkite hosting the event from Madison Square Garden along with game show host Gary Moore and special guests (by invitation only) such as Ginger Rogers, gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, and senator Hubert Humphrey. Typical of Todd's sense of humor is the marquee for the event which reads "A Little Private Party Tonight" - the event had over 18,000 guests.
Other extras on the disc include some highlights from the March 27th, 1957 Oscar® show with Liz Taylor and Todd cooing over each other before the cameras; outtakes from the film featuring Buster Keaton, John Carradine, David Niven, Cantinflas and Shirley MacLaine; a newsreel of Liz Taylor in Spain, and a photo gallery.
The DVD presentation gets high marks on the whole, especially considering the fact that Around the World in 80 Days was originally shown in Todd-AO, a process that required theatres to project the film on large curved screens. While the image here is formatted for a anamorphic widescreen movie, it's obvious that the transfer has some problems; there is some obvious warping on the edges of the image. But the color detail, sharpness of image and sound quality of the almost-fifty year old movie is quite good.
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by Jeff Stafford