Home > 100 Greatest Scores, Reviews > AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS – Victor Young

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS – Victor Young

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Ever-ambitious producer Mike Todd sought to bring an epic adventure tale to the big screen. He hired screenwriter James Poe to adapt renowned author Jules Verne’s novel “Around The World In 80 Days”. He gave the director reigns to Michael Anderson who brought in an amazing cast which included; David Niven as the classic Victorian English gentleman Phileas Fogg, Mexican icon Cantinflas as the resourceful “Jack of all Trades” Passepartout, Shirley MacLaine as the captivating Princess Aouda, her debut acting role, and Robert Newton as the redoubtable Inspector Fix. The story takes place in England circa 1872 and centers on an epic adventure taken by Phileas Fogg and his man servant Passepartout. Fogg makes the audacious claim that he can circumnavigate the world in eighty days. He offers a £20,000 wager with four skeptical compatriots of the Reform Club, thus setting the stage for the adventure.

Fogg sets off on the first leg of their journey to Paris by hot air balloon. Against this backdrop is a growing suspicion that Fogg has stolen £55,000 from the Bank Of England, which elicits Scotland Yard to dispatch Police Inspector Fix to arrest Fogg. Our journey takes us to Spain, where Passepartout engages in a comic bullfight, to Egypt, then India where Fogg and Passepartout rescue young widow Princess Aouda from certain death at her husband’s funeral pyre, to exotic Thailand, then to Hong Kong, Japan, San Francisco, and the wild American west where they battle Sioux Indians. However, with victory finally in his grasp Fogg is arrested upon his arrival at Liverpool by the relentless Inspector Fix. Yet the tables are turned when he learns to his dismay that the real criminal was already caught in Brighton! Although exonerated of the charges, Fogg believes he has missed the deadline and lost the wager until Passepartout buys a newspaper and sees that it is still Saturday. Fogg realizes that he gained a day by crossing the International Date Line and manages to reach the Club just before the clock’s chime at 8:45 pm. He wins both the wager and the hand of his love, Princess Aouda, thus bringing our adventure to a most satisfying conclusion. The film was both a commercial and critical success, being nominated for eight Academy Awards and winning five for; Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and best Film Score.

Veteran studio composer Victor Young was assigned the project. He quickly realized that the three-hour film covered a huge swath across the globe and that his music needed to speak to the ethno-cultural sensibilities of the various locals. He responded by providing a multiplicity of themes and nationalistic anthems that fully captured the film’s many and diverse settings. His primary theme is the Travel Theme whose classic Golden Age sensibility animates the film. Its construct is that of a lush and eloquent waltz, which flows with a carefree old world charm. It may be the best waltz ever written within film score canon. Next is Passepartout’s Theme a whimsical carefree construct animated by violins, woodwinds and xylophone, which has a wondrous ebullience and lightness of being, emblematic of its namesake. The string laden Indian Theme 1 flows sumptuously with a classic dance-like elegance that captures the exotic splendor of the Indian countryside. The rhythmic Indian Theme 2 is more exotic, featuring hand bells, ethnic flutes, tambura and tabla, which impart a strong ethnic Indian flavor. The American Theme is a carried by warm French horns and speaks with classic Americana expression. The American Indian Theme offers tom toms and pastoral woodwinds, which perfectly capture this native culture. The string laden Sailing Theme offers a classic nautical sound for which one can actually feel the wind in your face. Maxie’s Theme is derived from source music, a popular French dance tune from the gay 1890’s, which he uses to support a French sensibility. To imbue his score with ambiance, Young also references two national anthems; Rue Britannia for the British Empire and Yankee Doodle Dandy for America.

Folks, this score may be the best one ever written by Victor Young. It offers a multiplicity of eight themes, national anthems, ethnic songs and even the William Tell Overture! The writing features superb interplay and the music is perfectly attenuated to the film’s narrative and imagery. This is one of the finest Golden Age scores ever written and I highly recommend it for inclusion in your collection. It just does not get any better than this!

For those of you unfamiliar with the score I have embedded a Youtube link to the wondrous Sky Symphony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3llx6XK0Ew

A comprehensive review of the score may be found at: https://moviemusicuk.us/2014/12/16/around-the-world-in-80-days-victor-young/

Buy the Around the World in 80 Days soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Overture (2:59)
  • Passepartout (1:46)
  • First Stop: Paris (2:51)
  • Aloft Above France (4:56)
  • The Descent (1:07)
  • A Landing in Figueroas (1:05)
  • Passepartout Dances (1:38)
  • Invitation to a Bull Fight/Entrance of the Bull March (2:38)
  • Arrival in Suez (0:24)
  • Bombay Harbor (0:49)
  • India Countryside (3:58)
  • A Princess in Distress (5:20)
  • Royal Barge of Siam (2:40)
  • Yokohama (2:21)
  • Intermission (1:05)
  • Around The World – Part 2 (1:09)
  • Transcontinental Railway (3:57)
  • A Weak Bridge (3:00)
  • Sioux Attack (8:14)
  • Prairie Sail Car (1:51)
  • Land Ho (6:58)
  • End Credits (6:26)
  • Exit Music (5:01)

Running Time: 72 minutes 13 seconds

Hit Parade Records 13502 (1956/2007)

Music composed and conducted by Victor Young. Orchestrations by Sid Cutner and Leo Shuken. Score produced by Victor Young. Album produced by Bill Buster and Didier Deutsch.

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  1. Alessia Salimbene
    June 7, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Hi Jonathan,

    I work with the people of Holiday Inn. What would be the best way to contact you? If possible I’d love to send you a physical copy of the cast album.

    Best,
    Alessia

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