AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Five Weeks in a Balloon
Director: Irwin Allen (Dir)
Release Date:   1962
Premiere Information:   Denver, Colorado, opening: 10 Aug 1962
Duration (in mins):   101
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Cast:   Red Buttons (Donald O'Shay)  
    Fabian (Jacques)  
    Barbara Eden (Susan Gale)  
    Cedric Hardwicke (Fergusson)  
    Peter Lorre (Ahmed)  
    Richard Haydn (Sir Henry Vining)  
    Barbara Luna (Makia)  
    Billy Gilbert (Sultan-auctioneer)  
    Herbert Marshall (Prime minister)  
    Reginald Owen (Consul)  
    Henry Daniell (Sheik Ageiba)  
    Mike Mazurki (Slave captain)  
    Alan Caillou (Inspector)  
    Ben Astar (Myanga)  
    Raymond Bailey (Randolph)  
    Chester the Chimp ("The Duchess")  

Summary: In 1862, Fergusson, an engineer, is commissioned by the British government to fly his latest invention, a giant balloon carrying a gondola, 4,000 miles from Zanzibar into uncharted West Africa to claim the land around the Volta River for England. Time is of the essence, since a band of international slave traders is already pushing overland to claim the territory. Fergusson is accompanied by his young assistant, Jacques. In Zanzibar they are joined by Donald O'Shay, an American playboy reporter who will write an eyewitness account of the journey, and by a runaway female slave, Makia. Sir Henry Vining, president of the Royal Geographic Institute and debunker of the invention, is sent as the Queen's envoy to accompany them. Several days later, they rescue an American mission teacher, Susan Gale, from the clutches of a bulbous, drunken sultan, and take her aboard. Also on hand is a leering, cowardly Arab slave trader, Ahmed. When the balloon is forced down by a sandstorm, all except O'Shay are captured as infidels and ordered thrown from the tallest minaret in Timbuktu; but O'Shay arrives with the balloon and plucks them to safety. When they finally reach the Volta, the balloon collapses into the river just as the slave traders are approaching. O'Shay safely plants the flag for England, and Ahmed routs the traders by stopping their leader with a well-aimed dagger. With their mission accomplished, the adventurers shake hands on a job well done. 

Production Company: Cambridge Productions  
Production Text: An Irwin Allen Production
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Irwin Allen (Dir)
  Ad Schaumer (Asst dir)
Producer: Irwin Allen (Prod)
Writer: Charles Bennett (Scr)
  Irwin Allen (Scr)
  Albert Gail (Scr)
Photography: Winton Hoch (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Jack Martin Smith (Art dir)
  Alfred Ybarra (Art dir)
  Maurice Zuberano (Prod illustrator)
Film Editor: George Boemler (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Walter M. Scott (Set dec)
  Stuart A. Reiss (Set dec)
  Norman Rockett (Set dec)
Costumes: Paul Zastupnevich (Cost des)
Music: Paul Sawtell (Mus)
  Sid Cutner (Orch)
  Max Reese (Orch)
Sound: E. Clayton Ward (Sd)
  Warren B. Delaplain (Sd)
Special Effects: L. B. Abbott (Spec photog eff)
  Emil Kosa Jr. (Spec photog eff)
  Pacific Title (Main titles)
Make Up: Ben Nye (Makeup)
  Helen Turpin (Hairstyles)
Production Misc: Albert Gail (Asst to prod)
  William Eckhardt (Prod mgr)
  Donald L. Piccard (Tech adv)
Country: United States

Songs: "Five Weeks in a Balloon," words and music by Jodi Desmond.
Composer: Jodi Desmond
Source Text: Based on the novel Cinq semaines en ballon; Voyage de découvertes en Afrique par trois Anglais by Jules Verne (Paris, 1863).
Authors: Jules Verne

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Cambridge Productions 10/8/1962 dd/mm/yyyy LP23137

Physical Properties: col: De Luxe
  Sd: Westrex
  Widescreen/ratio: CinemaScope

Genre: Fantasy
  Science fiction
  Science fiction
Subjects (Major): Adventurers
  Americans in foreign countries
  Balloons (Hot air)
  Gondolas and gondoliers
  Slave traders

Note: Location scenes filmed in California. 

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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