At the turn of the (last) century, a Victorian Englishman, Phileas Fogg (David Niven), makes a bet with his gentleman's club (the London Reform Club) friends: with steamships and hot-air balloons and railways he can circumnavigate the world in 80 days. He wins the bet of course, but not after many close calls. Around the World in 80 Days conquered everyone around the world and went on to win Best Film – Drama, at the Golden Globes. Its director, Michael Anderson, was nominated (however Elia Kazan won for Baby Doll), and Mexican comedian Cantinflas (born Mario Moreno) won, oddly, as Best Actor in the Comedy category. It was the first and last time in the Globe history that an actor won in the opposite category than the film he/she starred in. Kirk Douglas won as Best Actor – Drama, as Van Gogh in Lust For Life.
Moreno plays the loyal and devoted valet, the recently arrived Latin immigrant, Passepartout, along for the film’s crazy ride. The film was shot on a $4 million budget literally all over the world, from London to Spain, from Japan to China, from Paris to California and so on. It was a huge box-office success, and it inspired many races against time (it was also remade in 2004 with Steve Coogan as Fogg and Jackie Chan as Passepartout)
For Cantinflas his win at the Golden Globes was a high point in his career. Dressed in a tuxedo jacket he arrived in a limousine at the Ambassador Hotel on the night of March 12 for the awards ceremony. The elite of the Los Angeles Mexican community had reserved and secured seats at the Cocoanut Grove Club, while crowds of Mexican Americans waited outside to cheer their hero. Vincent Price served as Master of Ceremonies that night, and Elizabeth Taylor announced the winner for Best Actor – Comedy – handing the Globe to Cantinflas. After a five minute standing ovation, a very moved Moreno accepted the award with pride and humility, speaking in excellent English. In Mexico, newspapers heralded the Globe victory for Cantinflas as a matter of great national pride, concluding their stories about the great event with “Viva Mexico!”