Around the World in 80 Minutes with Douglas Fairbanks

Douglas Fairbanks, "The King of Hollywood", travels the world in this rarely-seen pre-Code documentary co-directed with Victor Fleming (Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz).
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Format:  DVD-R
sku:  ALP 7970D
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DVD-R Details

  • Run Time: 1 hours, 20 minutes
  • Video: Black & White
  • Encoding: Region 0 (Worldwide)
  • Released: October 15, 2019
  • Originally Released: 1931
  • Label: Alpha Video

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With the advent of sound, the world's leading screen idol, Douglas Fairbanks, experienced a downturn in his fortunes. His thin, reedy voice was not suited to the talkies, his marriage to Mary Pickford was on the outs, and his son, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., had replaced him as a major box-office draw. Faced with the Hollywood equivalent of a mid-life crisis, Doug called up three of his best friends - director Victor Fleming, cinematographer Henry Sharp, and production manager Charles Lewis - and took them on a six-month tour of Asia, ostensibly to shoot a travelogue for United Artists (of which Fairbanks was still a major shareholder.) Their first stop is Honolulu, followed in quick succession by Japan, China, Peking, Hong Kong, Indochina, the Philippines, Siam, and India. Fairbanks and company spend time at such noteworthy spots as the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat, the Summer Palace and the Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum. While in Tokyo, Doug catches up with his old pals, legendary Japanese actors Sôjin Kamiyama and Sessue Hayakawa. In Indochina, he is provided with fifty elephants by the Maharanee of Cooch-Behar, who sends him on a leopard-hunting expedition. Between ports of call, Doug is shown exercising on the deck of a ship, dressed in only a (shockingly brief) sarong, his athletic body on full display (showing that pre-Code standards didn't just apply to the ladies!) This sometimes disparate footage is bound together by Fairbanks' narration, which was written by Robert E. Sherwood (later an Academy Award winner for his screenplay for The Best Years of Our Lives.) Though fairly progressive in dealing with foreign cultures for 1931, it sometimes falls back on the stereotypes of the era, as when Fairbanks calls Hawaiians "wonderfully simple people" or Filipinos "strange, primitive savages." There are also scenes clearly shot in the studio, such as Fairbanks fighting a tiger hand-to hand (!) and Doug and Victor Fleming watching a Japanese geisha girl undress through a peephole (one could never imagine the director of The Wizard of Oz as a Peeping Tom!) The film's conclusion, with Doug and friends returning to Hollywood via magic carpet, references Fairbanks' classic Thief of Bagdad (1924). A highly unusual piece of cinematic archaeology, Around the World in 80 Minutes With Douglas Fairbanks has to be seen to be believed.
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Product Info

  • Sales Rank: 1,319
  • UPC: 089218797094
  • Shipping Weight: 0.25/lbs (approx)
  • International Shipping: 1 item

Film Collectors & Archivists: Alpha Video is actively looking for rare and unusual pre-1943 motion pictures, in good condition, from Monogram, PRC, Tiffany, Chesterfield, and other independent studios for release on DVD. We are also interested in TV shows from the early 1950s. Share your passion for films with a large audience. Let us know what you have.
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