Five Weeks in a Balloon (1962) Poster

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8/10
Classic Tongue-in-Cheek Adventure
tindog28 December 2007
This film is right in line with some of the better soft science adventures from the 50s and 60s that hark back to 19th or early 20th centuries; Journey to the Center of the Earth, Around the World in 80 Days; and touches on the humor and silliness at times of Those Daring Young Men in their Jaunty Jalopies and The Daring Young Men in their Flyings Machines or even How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 Hours 11 Minutes and The Great Race. Trying to take full advantage of CinemaScope and the new technologies in Deluxe color, the filmmakers concocted a fun and funny adventure that looks big and beautiful. Not for everyone, I suppose, at times dry and at other times over-silly and contrived, but always fun, and with the added bonus or a memorable theme song performed by The Brothers Four.
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10/10
Aloft On A Jules Verne Adventure
Ron Oliver28 January 2000
London, the 1800's. Victoria rules her Empire. But overseas, the forces of oppression & evil nibble at the edges. Meanwhile, a gruff old Scots professor takes his latest invention, a huge hot-air balloon, for a trial flight over Moslem Africa, picking up assorted companions along the way. They will meet many kinds of danger, but they must not be stopped, for they are on a secret mission from the Prime Minister: to raise the British flag in a remote part of the Dark Continent before slavers can claim that territory for themselves. In order to succeed, however, they must first spend FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.

Based on a Jules Verne novel, the story is admittedly silly, but it is colorful and full of action and should appeal to kids. Older viewers will appreciate the unusually rich cast: Sir Cedric Hardwicke & Fabián as the Professor & his assistant; Red Buttons as a playboy reporter; Barbara Eden & Barbara Luna as rescued slaves; Richard Haydn as a stuffy old explorer; and Peter Lorre as a slave trader.

The guest stars & bit players are equally impressive: Raymond Bailey, Henry Daniell, Billy Gilbert, Ronald Long, Mike Mazurki, Herbert Marshall & Reginald Owen. All told, they turn this bit of fluff into enjoyable family viewing.
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6/10
Allen's best directed film
EdgarST23 April 2006
Having seen the horrendous "The Lost World" (1960) a few weeks ago, I was afraid to revisit "Five Weeks in a Balloon." I had seen both films when originally released, and had a good memory of them (including the title song of this one, which everybody seems to like.) "The Lost World" turned out to be static, with terrible performances by people like Jill St. John and Fernando Lamas, surrounded by fake jungles, caverns, dinosaurs and volcanoes. So when it was "Five Weeks in a Balloon" turn, I had my doubts. Surprisingly, it is quite enjoyable once one overlooks its Hollywood version of African cultures, people and savannas, the stock footage, the (American) propaganda, the balloon being pulled by a thread during a rain storm, or Irwin Allen's handling of action scenes. Allen directed them awkwardly, and made the proceedings look slower than what is actually happening, as the rescue scene in the mesquite or the final scene by a river. In any case, it's a colorful and good looking CinemaScope production, with an interesting cast and many outdoors scenes that make it more attractive than Allen's other movies. By his standards, this may be the film he directed best, leaving his productions "The Poseidon Adventure" or "The Towering Inferno" to more capable hands.
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7/10
various factors even it out
lee_eisenberg10 February 2007
No doubt we'll probably cringe a little at the portrayals of non-white people in "Five Weeks in a Balloon": the Arabs are slave traders and the Africans dance around in loin cloths and carry spears. Of course, Jules Verne wrote the novel, so we can't totally blame the movie for the portrayals. So if we can get past these depictions, it's a perfectly entertaining experience. The movie portrays English scientist Cedric Hardwicke inventing a balloon-powered dirigible and having to fly to West Africa to stop slave traders (as if the British weren't doing creepy things in their own colonies?). He brings along military man Richard Haydn, young Canadian guy Fabian, and accident-prone American reporter Red Buttons. Through numerous stops, they pick up freed slave Barbara Luna, slave trader Peter Lorre, American teacher Barbara Eden, and chimpanzee Chester.

The characters come across as a real mixture. Most of the cast members do a good job, but Fabian seems out of place, Red Buttons's role just seems silly, and Barbara Luna has little more than her looks (I've never read the novel, so I can't comment on possible changes). In almost any other movie, this combo would drag the whole thing down significantly, but not here; if anything, it makes the picture more entertaining. Even if there's a lot of continuity errors and such things, it's impossible not to have fun while watching "FWIAB". Also starring Herbert Marshall, Billy Gilbert, Henry Daniell and Mike Mazurki (Gilbert and Daniell previously co-starred in "The Great Dictator").

One more thing. Among the DVD's special features is footage from the movie's debut in Denver. One of the best things about this footage is that we get to see Barbara Eden in a shell dress! Such a sight, in my opinion, means that there is a God! Aside from her Jeannie outfit, a shell dress is the only thing that I can imagine Barbara Eden wearing. If these sorts of thoughts make me a pervert, then I'm proud to be one.
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Taller Than An Elephant
unbrokenmetal9 February 2007
The title song assures us that, if you fly in a balloon, nothing is impossible. "I'm taller than an elephant and twice as powerful, too." From the first minute you know, "5 Weeks in a Balloon" will be fun with a capital F. Sure, it's easy to analyze this movie and come to the conclusion it's childish and full of clichés. But my point is, grown-ups rarely manage to make movies that really show the world as it is in the imagination of a 10 year old - an admirable quality. While the real Africa is struck by war, starvation and disease, this is the fantasy Africa where rogues were colorful costumes for good looks and the heroes will have a break in the middle of the wilderness, not worrying about the lions around, to sing a song before they go on - because they know, in a dream no-one can actually be harmed. "5 Weeks in a Balloon" may not be Irwin Allen's best movie, but I still like it as much as I did when I watched it for the first time, because only movie theater entertainment at its best can take us away from the real world for an hour and a half to forget all our worries. Can't be grateful enough for that sometimes!
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The most enjoyable Jules Verne adaptation.
SanDiego26 August 2000
Easily the most enjoyable film version of a Jules Verne story "Five Weeks in a Balloon" never slows down it's pace. Awash with color, humor, adventure, exotic sets, and a balloon that looks like it came from the designer of the "Swiss Family Robinson" treehouse, the film keeps up a brisk pace, tells a simple story, and wraps things up in a timely manner. Other reviews mention the rich cast and still manage to miss major performances by Red Buttons and Peter Lorre (that tells you something about the cast). Irwin Allen at his best.
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6/10
A Fun, Flawed Film
BaronBl00d10 July 2008
No real arguments here that Five Weeks in a Balloon is infantile, poorly directed and scripted, wasteful of its acting talents, and a general wash in terms of meaningful content. That is all very accurate, yet the film is fun and entertaining. The Jules Verne novel does come to life in stunning color, a cast of notables throughout with the likes of Billy Gilbert, Henry Daniell(both of these men woefully out of place playing Arabs - but still fun to see), beautiful Barbara Eden(not doing much more than looking lovely),Herbert Marshall in one of his last screen roles,the stunning Barbara Luna in a loincloth most of the time, madly overacting Red Buttons, every affable and witty Peter Lorre playing a pseudo-villain, Fabian being Fabian, and the two key and most fun performances to Cedric Harwicke as the leader of the expedition and Richard Hayden as a rival scientist doubting all his finding but eventually coming round. Basically Hayden is playing the same role he played in Lost World, another Irwin Allen picture, when Claude Rains played the scientific renegade out to prove the world wrong. And that is part of the main problem with this film, the script is devoid of any depth, full of flat characterizations, unfunny lines meant to be taken as humour, and animals obviously trained living in the middle of the untamed jungle forest. All are trademarks of Allen's work - just watch Lost in Space sometime. Yet, as I said, it is fun. It's almost camp in a way and never tries taking itself seriously and that helps the sell work for me at least. As soon as you sit down to watch the movie, this incredibly melodic tune sung by the Brothers Four resounds over and over again and I tell you something true - lingers on with you - days later. You know by that thematic tune that you are not about to sit down to Heart of Darkness or The Lion in Winter - you are watching something that is meant to be fun. Five Weeks in a Balloon is just that. - Flawed and Fun.
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6/10
Adventurous Jules Verne Movie
camibear710 May 2002
Barbara Eden is as beautiful as ever in this movie that reminded me a bit of Around the World in 80 Days. Mainly because of the group of people riding high over the country in a hot air balloon. They have many adventures as they land in different spots. Some are exciting some are hair raising. The whole movie is fun. Can't miss with this movie.
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8/10
Entertainment it ...tis!
classiccat2 April 2011
I've always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon but am afraid of heights. I enjoy watching this exciting, colorful, adventure movie with an all star cast(including the monkey) over and over. It moves along at a nice pace with lots of fun, adventure and a bit of romance. It also had a bit of slapstick comedy which I don't usually care for in the movies I watch but didn't seem to mind in this one. The theme song is a very catchy tune. This movie came out the year I was born and I can't believe I've never heard of it before. As a kid growing up I was an avid watcher of some of Irwin Allen's other productions like the series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Lost in Space, which I now own on DVD. I would definitely recommended it for family entertainment.
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5/10
"Kismet, We Are Doomed"
bkoganbing14 February 2008
I well remember seeing Five Weeks In A Balloon in theaters as a lad and after Fabian made his appearance peeking through the cabin door of the balloon, the squeals from his teenage fans pretty much drowned out the soundtrack the rest of the film. When I got to see it later on television I found it to be an unassuming film, a nice adaption of Jules Verne's story, but one strictly for the kid trade.

It seems a pity to waste the literate voices of Cedric Hardwicke and Richard Haydn and Herbert Marshall on screaming teenyboppers. Not to mention the comic talents of Red Buttons. Still that's what happened because the audience this film drew was for that pompadoured kid from Philadelphia.

The United Kingdom has always prided itself on the fact that it was the first of western nations to outlaw the slave trade. So couched in those terms, its imperial ambitions in Africa seem almost noble in Five Weeks In A Balloon. Cedric Hardwicke is a balloonist who's invented an early form of gas propulsion with which his assistant Fabian helps him. He's planning to do some exploring of East Africa in and around Zanzibar. But Her Majesty in the form of Prime Minister Herbert Marshall calls on Hardwicke to undertake a 4000 mile journey across Africa to get to the Upper Volta to beat a gang of slave traders of an unknown nation and plant the flag for good old Britain.

Making the trip with them are Richard Haydn representing the Crown and Red Buttons as a neutral American observer and reporter. Buttons is a walking train wreck as he gets them in one scrape after another. Red does redeem himself in the end however.

Along the way this merry bunch picks up two women rescued from the clutches of slavery, Barbaras Luna and Eden and a slave-trader played by Peter Lorre. Lorre has the best lines in the whole film, he actually manages to see 'kismet, we are doomed' a few times without cracking up.

Richard Haydn is usually a very funny guy, but in this film he's down right annoying. Playing his usual fussbudget character, you kind of wonder is this the type of man who helped put together an Empire upon which the sun never set.

Five Weeks In A Balloon is a nice film, but sad to say this cinema version of Jules Verne is strictly for the juveniles or for those who have a thing for Fabian.
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Pretty Forgettable for all That
theowinthrop11 December 2004
I remember when this film came out in 1962. It was one of the first motion pictures that used television to advertise it's scenes and cast and excitement (including it's theme song). And the film did moderately well if at all.

Jules Verne had written several failed plays (boulevard farces) and a few short stories before this novel was written. Taking advantage of current interest in African exploration (the brouhaha regarding Burton and Speke and the source of the Nile - see THE MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON - as well as the discoveries of the first gorilla by French explorer Paul du Chaillu), Verne joined this to the growing interest in ballooning, and man's conquest of the air. The book was Verne's first published novel, and it turned out to be a success. Ironically, despite it's title mentioning "balloons", most people now think that Verne's ballooning novel is AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS. While that is a better written novel (and a more frequently read one) there is no scene in it of Phileas Fogg and Passepartout flying in a balloon. In fact, the first time the heroes of AROUND THE WORLD met ballooning was in the 1957 film. Mike Todd invented the sequence (with an assist by his script writers) to remind the movie audience of Verne as father of modern science fiction.

For a first novel FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON is okay. Professor Samuel Ferguson and two companions decide to do some explorations of Africa by flying a balloon from Zanzibar (where Burton and Speke took off from) and flying westward. They succeed in crossing the continent, and their observations about Africa (it's peoples, flowers, fauna, etc.) mingle with various adventures by the balloonists. In comparison with later novels by Verne it is fairly tame - it is hard to believe he wrote A JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (1864) only one year later. He was improving by then, but he had to start somewhere.

The movie, despite many nice performances like Hardwicke as Ferguson, Red Buttons as a newspaper owner's spoiled son, Fabian, Peter Lorre (as a reformed villain), and Richard Haydn is not much better than a cute kid's film that gave employment to many character actors. It is nice to see Herbert Marshall in his last role as England's Prime Minister (Lord Palmerston?). He was not looking well, but he did give a nice brief performance - in fact it was necessary to help the pitiably weak plot of the novel. Fergusson is asked to assist the British Government in preventing a group of slavers from planting their flag on some important African territory - by planting the British flag there first. Fergusson agrees to this, and from time to time we actually see the slavers (led by Mike Mazurki) headed by land to the critical land spot. In the end they are defeated.

Because of the infantile direction of the script (Lorre has lines like "Kismet, we are doomed!") the film is never above serviceable for entertaining kids. It remains in my memory only because it was the first film I saw advertised on television that I remember. But I have never run back to the television to watch it on any rerun - if it has had any rerun. For all the famed character actors in it one feels that they wasted their talents on a slightly acceptable turkey.
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It's a shame The 5th Dimension couldn't have written the theme song!
Poseidon-318 November 2004
Before he gathered hordes of Hollywood A, B and C-list stars in overturned luxury liners and sky-high burning buildings, Irwin Allen gave the world a couple of colorful, simplistic, adventure films with casts full of name stars, past and present. This one concerns Hardwicke and his attempts to take his experimental hot air balloon to the edge of Africa and claim the territory for Great Britain before slave traders can do it first. Along for the ride are perky assistant Fabian, calamity-plagued reporter Buttons and uptight military man Haydn. They are soon joined by runaway slave Luna and shady slave trader Lorre and one of his recent captives Eden. Together, they brave various dangers such as outraged natives, drunken sheiks, sandstorms and waterfalls (nearly every Allen film ever made includes some type of natural threat.) The film is simple-minded, non-think entertainment made watchable by it's pallet of stars and it's varying locales. Hardwicke, wearing a fluffy wig and with his pants up near his nipples, is a long way off from "The Ten Commandments" and other, greater roles. Seeing him paired with Fabian (!) is about the most unexpected teaming imaginable. Fabian, with his adorable 5-inch-high pompadour, looks cute throughout, but is saddled with a hilariously awkward title song that he sings more than once. Apparently his accordion lessons only got him that far. Another surprising pair is that of Buttons and Eden. He is a charming character actor, but has no business headlining an adventure film! That's what an early Oscar win can do for (or to!) a career, though. He acquits himself fairly well, however. Eden is free of the overstated qualities that she brought to "I Dream of Jeannie" and is refreshingly subdued and attractive. Haydn gives a very stylized, mannered performance that may baffle those more familiar with his chummy Uncle Max character from "The Sound of Music". His inflection does begin to grate after a while. Lorre manages to toss off a few dry witticisms in one of his last roles. Luna, trotting around in an abbreviated costume and a teased hairdo, is mere decoration. In case all these people weren't wacky enough, there's a female chimpanzee on board! Several famed actors pop up in cameo roles. An ill-looking Marshall has a bit as The Prime Minister and legendarily tart Daniell has a role as a Sheik. Most of the Arabian characters are portrayed by white men in make-up, which was customary at the time. Logistical oddities and camp factors abound. The balloon can barely get off the ground with just four men at the beginning (half the luggage gets tossed), yet before long there's seven passengers and a monkey on it! Watch for the screamingly funny scene in which Eden, running across a perfectly flat, open field, manages to trip over the lone branch that has fallen in the way. All those oranges gone to waste! The humor is pretty lame and the situations are hardly realistic, yet somehow the cornball movie winds up being fairly entertaining.
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6/10
Pleasantly amusing as well as ludicrous adventure in which a group of likable roles flying around Africa attempting to end slaves traffic
ma-cortes4 July 2017
This fantastic movie displays sensational adventures , thrills , intrigue , marvelous scenarios , lots of fun and being pretty enjoyable . This first take on for cinema based on this novel by Jules Verne , was filmed in Cinemascope widescreen with agreeable main cast and good support actors . Fascinating aerial movie blends action, , disaster spectacle , hokey fun , suspense and emotional happenings . This rendition of the Jules Verne novel , set in 1862 , follows Professor Fergusson (Cedric Hardwicke) who schemes to make aviation history . As he plans to claim uncharted territories in West Africa as proof of his inventions worth , taking extraordinary adventures on ceiling in an advanced balloon on the most incredible air safari of modern time. As Fergusson captains a giant wonderous flying machine along with a motley bunch of characters (Fabian , Richard Haydn , Barbara Eden , Barbara Luna , Peter Lorre) and all of them encounter many adventures and dangers on the balloon trek across Africa . As they are traveling throughout great Sahara desert and beyond , jungles and other unexplored territories . As they take off for the Gold Coast shores of the Volta , across 4000 miles of uncharted wilds. But then they are captured and get thoroughly involved with power-hungry Sultan (Barry Gilbert) , but they get escaped .

Often hilarious adventure dealing with the exploits of a 19th-century British expedition to claim uncharted land in West Africa for the Empire by making his way across Africa by balloon , including a talented production team and making the most of an enough but not lavish budget . Our heroes incarnated by a little believable cast of first-rate players get stuck in the flying machine before it explodes , undergoing numerous risks and suffering innumerable perils . Funny adaptation based on Jules Verne's fantasy-adventure novel with charming screenplay by Charles Bennett , including admirable cast and gorgeous scenarios . The film talks about the known story from Verne novel and previously never rendered in cinema and it's brought excitingly to screen . Surprise-filled entertainment and plenty of action on grand scale with passable special effects and spectacular adventure by flying a giant hot air balloon , using maquette or scale model and matte-painting . The aerial scenes , explosions , pyrotechnics , flamboyant FX , all of them are spectacular and the film is another exceptional Hollywood product but in medium budget . Memorable and great cast as the British commission inventor Fergusson well played by Sir Cecil Hardwicke who is perfect as intelligent and anti-slavery explorer . The movie's imaginative use of stock shots and its garish line in 19th century hardware is acceptable . And ordinary stock footage showing animals from Savannah , jungles and some desert lands , such as : Lions , Zebras , Giraffa , Elephant and Chimpanzee in Cheeta-¨Tarzan¨ movie style . Atmospheric and vivid score by Paul Sawtell . Colorful cinematography by Winton C. Hoch in Cinemascope and Technicolor reflecting wonderfully aerial scenes .

This exciting and thrilling adventure movie was amusingly directed by Irwin Allen , containing some vigorous scenes . Allen was a good craftsman who directed several titles from the 50s . And was a successful TV series producer as ¨The time tunnel¨(1966), ¨Lost in space¨ (1965), ¨Land of the giants¨ . Allen was nicknamed "The Master of Disaster" in the 1970s due to the tremendous hits of his special effects-laden epics, as ¨Poseidon adventure¨ (1972) and ¨Towering Inferno¨ , though he failed in ¨When time ran out¨, The swarm¨ , ¨Fire¨ , ¨Flood¨ and ¨Beyond the Poseidón adventure¨ . And produced/directed various films and series in Jules Verne style , such as : ¨Voyage to the bottom of the sea¨, ¨The return of captain Nemo¨ , ¨City beneath the sea¨ and this ¨Five weeks in balloon¨ .
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6/10
Undemanding Adventure
OneView9 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Five Weeks in a Balloon is a genuinely warm family film that remains an entertaining watch more than fifty years after its first release.

Jules Verne's story is brought to life as a relatively modest studio production with plenty of painted backdrops, back projection, a gondola lifted by a crane and some very dubious miniature work. That aside, Irwin Allen concocts a story with varied locations and amusing characters brought to life by a cast clearly sympathetic to the material.

It is that cast that a viewer remembers long after seeing the film. Their work includes well modulated performances from Cedric Hardwicke (in a less than flattering wig), Richard Haydn selling divine prissiness with an acid tongue and precise comic timing, Peter Lorre clearly more engaged than in some of his latter day parts and from Red Buttons who overacts but to grand comic effect. Irwin Allen clearly liked Buttons as he used him again in a comic turn in When Time Ran Out (1980) nearly two decades later.

Even the smaller parts are worth watching out for with the likes of Herbert Marshall as the British Prime Minister, the always taciturn Henry Daniell as an incongruous sheik (given the character lives in what must be sub-Saharan Africa) and Mike Mazurki lending his considerable villainous presence to the near-silent role of the slave trader.

Carrying a theme from Fox's earlier Verne success, Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1959), the travellers are required to be accompanied by a cute animal companion - in this case a monkey. Thankfully the monkey does not get a huge amount of screen time.

The film straddles some interesting issues relating to race and empire. On the one hand it is clearly set during the Victorian era when the United Kingdom was spreading its empire across Africa, yet it also features a British government fighting to prevent slave trading in the continent. This is contrasted with the presentation of the African characters, most of whom are played by anglocentric actors in blackface. It is not helpful either that most of these characters are presented purely as comedic villains and speak dubious made-up languages that do little for their dignity.

With that noted this film is clearly not seeking to make any cogent political points and plays as a fun adventure romp. With that perspective foremost it is a fun indulgence and well worth the viewer's time.

The title song is also very catchy, easily hummed and will stay in the mind long after first listening.
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8/10
Cross-generation fun
whitej-413 August 2008
I, too, saw this movie as a kid, together with all the other Verne-type adventures from "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" and "Time Machine" to "The Magic Sword" and "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and "Lost World." These movies and and science-fiction books fired my imagination and made being a kid so much fun. My kids saw "Five Weeks in a Balloon" one summer when we drove cross-country in our new van, outfitted with a TV with a built-in VCR you could plug into the cigarette lighter. They loved it, and can still sing the theme song today at ages 24 and 21. So, while this movie may in fact be for "the kid trade," it's a safe bet it'll do more for their imagination than any "Dark Knight" or "Iron Man" today.
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Red Buttons as the Romantic Male Lead?
richard.fuller114 July 2002
I had not seen this film in over thirty years and caught it just this past week while on holiday. I still remembered the song! And in over thirty years, it was the scenes with Lorre I recalled best (I wonder why?).

But Red Buttons as the romantic leading man for Barbara Eden was a bit difficult to get into. Eden of course, was full of her usual magic, really coming across a bit subdued from her other work, such as Dr. Lao and I Dream of Jeannie. She works best with all her emotions and thoughts firmly expressed and never fluctuating. Richard Haydn with the tea kettle was more captivating than Fabian and Barbara Luna's romance (why did both women have to enter as slaves?). In actuality, Fabian, Luna and Hardwicke were very uninteresting, Buttons attempting to go from a charmer to a bungler got tiresome, only Lorre and Haydn stayed in character. Nevertheless, the cast was well-rounded out, the adventure was strong and solid and the finale was a winner (something else I had also remembered from over three decades ago as well. I like when I remember the endings of movies). Good fun movie that I would have loved to have seen become one of Allen's tv shows. Shame it didn't. And the monkey was left-handed.
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6/10
Not bad, for the dreaded Irwin
Anne_Sharp16 July 2001
Definitely one of the more tolerable of Irwin Allen's widescreen "family" pictures, this one particularly rewards contemporary viewers with its forward-thinking social conscience (the plot turns on the protagonists' attempts to thwart African slave traders) and the uncanny resemblance of Red Buttons' spoiled, bumbling rich boy character to George W. Bush, visually and otherwise. The titillating presence of Barbara Luna and Barbara Eden as feisty slave chicks and Peter Lorre's turn as a slave trader (his whip-wielding entrance into a sultan's harem is definitely the film's highlight) also add palatability.
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After Mysterious Island Came Another Balloon
StuOz7 February 2003
Irwin Allen movie about people in a balloon craft.

I would not say that Five Weeks has any great acting talent on hand, but the odd good looking body is here. I guess the balloon itself is the star of this movie, and that opening song.

The early footage of the balloon in bright blue sky is still a joy to the eye and really gets you in the right frame of mind for what follows.

That highly memorable song at the start is great. Irwin Allen would do another great balloon scene in an episode of his Land Of The Giants TV series - episode title, Land Of The Lost.
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6/10
On An Urgent Mission Across Africa
Uriah4330 October 2018
In desperate need of money to further his technical inventions "Professor Fergusson" (Cedric Hardwicke) is approached by "Randolph Hearst" (Raymond Bailey) who agrees to provide the necessary funding for a trip to East Africa provided that he take his playboy nephew "Donald O'Shay" (Red Buttons) with him in order to keep him out of trouble. Needless to say, Professor Fergusson agrees immediately. However, because of important British national concerns the trip becomes rerouted to encompass another part of Africa which adds several more weeks to the expedition. Not only that, but other passengers are also added during the course of the trip which complicates matters even more. Now rather than reveal any more I will just say that this was a fairly typical "family film" made during this particular time-period which was often viewed by that specific audience at either theaters or drive-ins across America. As such it was deliberately kept rather tame and inoffensive. That being said, although the overall plot isn't anything out of the ordinary, I thought the performance of Peter Lorre (as "Ahmed") and the presence of both BarBara Luna ("Makia") and Barbara Eden ("Susan Gale") helped to elevate it to a certain degree and for those reasons I have rated this film accordingly. Slightly above average.
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1/10
Racist, Xenophobic, Sexist Hollywood at its Best (Worst)
jjamele5 January 2008
Jules Verne wrote the book that this film is based on in 1863, when Africa was not yet fully explored, the British Empire sought to rule the world, and "White Man's Burden" was the accepted philosophy of the age. That such a film could be made in 1962 and contain so many stupid, ugly stereotypes shows you how far the movie industry still had to go.

This film has it all- the obviously white (but dark haired and tanned) native girl who speaks perfectly good, though halting, English ("Me Makia. Who You?"), the "Arabs" waving Scimitars and mistaking the white explorers for "Gods" because they come out of the sky in their amazing, technologically advanced balloon, the white blonde (Barbara Eden) who must be rescued from being ravaged by the drooling Muslim traders, the "Sultans" who look like they stepped right out of Alladin, with their pointy slippers and jeweled turbans and all-white harems, the Africans with painted bodies, feathers in their hair and necklaces of bones around their necks, waving spears and shouting gibberish....I could go on and on.

Should I even bother to mention the bizarre travel route taken by explorers who are in a hurry to get to a specific place- flying across central Africa from East to West, then finding themselves in the Sub-Saharan grasslands, then in a Saharan sandstorm, then back over the jungle? So they are in a race against time, but they take the All-Chiche' route anyway?? I recommend this film to any film history teacher who wants to discuss racism in Hollywood. If you decide to show it to your children, at least make it an educational experience- pause from time to time to discuss the use of revolting stereotypes and why it's demeaning, to both the people being stereotyped and the viewers.
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3/10
A Comedy... of errors
QCJLo16 November 2005
A very slow and predictable movie with very little to offer. Although this movie is touted as a comedy, the funniest part was that I actually sat through the whole thing. This feature could have gotten a lot worse had they made it into a musical. I did ironically enjoy the theme song that was heard a couple of times throughout the movie. A little diddy that was sung by The Brothers Four. But I suppose the only redeeming part was the skimpy outfit that Barbara Luna was dressed in throughout most of the movie.

Of course, I am by no means a fan of older movies, which probably accounts for my distaste in this one.
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Bored to Tears
Single-Black-Male21 April 2004
Apart from the fact that Charles Bennett collaborated with Irwin Allen on this project, there was absolutely nothing at all to extract from this film. I read the novel alongside '80 Days Around the World' by Jules Verne and was deeply offended by his attitude towards the marginalized. By watching the film, I thought Charles Bennett (with his experience of working with Alfred Hitchcock and Cecil B. DeMille) would be able to bring something to the project. Instead, the film was just a continuity of the collaboration between Bennett and his successive producers and directors. The aging Sir Cedric Hardwicke and the insipid Peter Lorre added nothing whatsoever to the entertainment value.
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