Five Weeks In A Balloon

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FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON—a swell Jim-dandy of a title tune, rollicking as can be, starts off this 1962 kiddie matinee adventure with great gusto. Sadly, most of what follows over 101 minutes is limp and flat, doing injustice to the Jules Verne writing that inspired it, and dribbling away the talents of a fine array of supporting actors.

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Several intrepid adventurers fly a balloon over uncharted Africa in the mid-19th century, ostensibly to stop the slave trade by planting the Union Jack on the shore of the Volta River.

Apart from a great bit by Billy Gilbert, the comedy relief falls plop, the production values are skimpy (blame producer Irwin Allen), the pace is spotty (blame director Irwin Allen) and the action unexciting. $2,340,000 spent yielded only $1,200,000.

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Barbara Luna is a treat to gaze upon, in a role designed strictly from Leers of Beverly Hills.  It’s all good-natured enough, but still heavy-handed, and what’s with Red Buttons as leading man? Catch that great opener ditty and dial on. Pro cast: Cedric Hardwicke, Richard Haydn, Fabian, Barbara Eden, Peter Lorre, Herbert Marshall, Reginald Owen, Henry Daniell, Mike Mazurki, Raymond Bailey. Music by Paul Sawtell, with The Brothers Four doing the song.

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