What’s all this nonsense? THE INSPECTOR GENERAL, starring Danny Kaye, that’s what!

While the leaves were changing color a couple of months ago, the good folks at Shout!Factory released the Warner Brothers Danny Kaye vehicle THE INSPECTOR GENERAL (1949) as a collector’s edition DVD. Just so we’re clear – this isn’t the Danny Kaye movie where he says “vessel with the pestle,” nor is it the one where he buys a holiday inn. It’s not the movie where he imagines he’s a bunch of other people but it is one in which he is mistaken for someone other than himself. Russian author Nikolai Gogol dreamed up the source story, supposedly (never invest 100% belief in anything Gogol tells you) by way of an anecdote related by Alexander Pushkin, and published it as a play in 1836. The sardonic and bitingly comedic Gogol had long wanted to write a play based on imperial and governmental corruption but his fears of censorship stayed his hand until Pushkin floated him the story of the time he was mistaken for an inspector general. Still, there was enough hullabaloo from high places to prevent a production of said play until czar Nicholas I intervened and gave his consent. The play was a success and Gogol was heralded as a genius for its construction. There have been, over the years, various stage versions (Fyodor Dostoyevsky once played the title character in a production mounted for charity), film versions and even operettas. The key to the popularity of this property lies in its vintage; with Gogol dead since 1852, the rights are free.

THE INSPECTOR GENERAL falls about midway through Kaye’s relatively brief Hollywood career, which lasted from his feature film debut in UP IN ARMS (1944) for the Samuel Goldwyn Company to his bit in THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT (1969). Kaye had already appeared in WONDER MAN (1945) and THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (1947) for Goldwyn at RKO but THE INSPECTOR GENERAL found him at Warner Brothers. Kaye had just inked a five-picture deal with the studio and had plans for some pretty high-hat star turns, in proposed adaptations of Don Quixote and Macbeth but studio head Jack Warner wanted and expected the actor to tender his standard stock-in-trade: pratfalls, face-making, and fast-paced dialogue. The adaptation of THE INSPECTOR GENERAL by Philip Rapp and Harry Kurnitz (studio records show that Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer were at one time on the payroll, too, but the extent of their contributions is unknown) swung fairly wide of the source material, diluting Gogol’s vitriol and making Kaye’s main character a fully sympathetic bumpkin who runs afoul of civic corruption and charms the populace even as he is marked for murder.

Shifting the play’s setting from Russia to Hungary (more easily shemped, I suppose, amid the hills of Corriganville), Kaye stars at Georgi, the illiterate assistant of  traveling medicine man Yakov (Walter Slezak). When Georgi’s conscience prevents him from passing off furniture polish as a curative elixir, Yakov gives him the boot, sending the impoverished and famished naif along his merry way. As fate would have it, a nearby village is in a panic because word has reached the office of mayor Gene Lockhart that the imperial Inspector General is afoot and nosing out all forms of malfeasance and crookery. When Geordi finds himself in constable Alan Hale’s jail, the town elders are convinced he is the Inspector General incognito and not only reprieve him from a date with the executioner but cousin and kowtow to him, hoping the distractionary pomp and circumstance will deflect the investigation into their own crimes. Playing along out of abject hunger, Georgi enjoys his time as the village’s honored guest… until Yakov turns up. But far from wishing to blow Georgi’s cover, Yakov plays along, insinuating himself as the Inspector General’s aide de camp, eager to use the villagers’ devotion as a way of lining his own pockets. All goes well, until the real Inspector General turns up…

As with any Danny Kaye movie that’s a Danny Kaye movie rather than a movie with Danny Kaye in it, plot mechanics take a back seat to the generation of musical setpieces for the former Borscht Belt comedian to strut his rubber-faced and nimble-tongued stuff. One of the best of the bunch is an early scene in which Georgi is whisked out of the local gaol to be feted in the mayor’s residence. The gag is that no matter how much food is set before him, Georgi never gets to eat any – interrupted as he is by toasts and the attentions of the mayor’s daughter (Elsa Lanchester) and sundry other distractions. (I have to believe that a funny bit on the old LARRY SANDERS SHOW, in which TV host Garry Shandling is steadfastly unable to get to the bathroom to pee during commercial breaks, was inspired at least in part by this scene.) Another great scene involves Georgi imagining the kinds of Inspector General he should be in order to remaining convincing – militaristic, debonair, smart; there’s a funny moment in which this song turns into a parody of the popular vocal group The Ink Spots and later there’s a great bit of physical comedy where Kaye comes very close to drinking poison but never can quite seem to get the goblet to his lips. My enjoyment of the film, however, has less to do with Kaye’s contribution on its own merits than as a component of a well-cast ensemble piece. Everybody helps with the heavy lifting here, from Kaye’s costars Slezak (just a delight as a gypsy rogue), Lanchester, Hale, Lockhart and leading lady Barbara Bates (perhaps most memorable as the aspiring actress seen at the end of ALL ABOUT EVE) to bit players Nestor Paiva, Jimmy Conlin and Byron Foulger (as a timorous poisoner). Under the direction of Henry Koster, THE INSPECTOR GENERAL turns in well-oiled-machine mode for 100 mirthful, tuneful minutes, with the Technicolor cinematographer of Elwood Bredell giving the production the candied hue of a holiday classic, minus the tinsel and fa la la la la. Sometimes those are the best Christmas movies.

To fill out their collector’s edition DVD, Shout!Factory has packaged THE INSPECTOR GENERAL with MONEY ON YOUR LIFE (1938), one of Kaye’s early short subjects; film historian Bruce Lawton provides an optional commentary. Even better are 17 minutes of home movies taken on the set by Henry Koster (or his designated alternate), which show THE INSPECTOR GENERAL coming to life behind-the-scenes. (My favorite bit shows Kaye capering in period costume with Elsa Lanchester, who thrusts her hand between Kaye’s thighs as the actor reacts appropriately.) Koster’s son, Robert, provides the commentary, which is wonderful and warm. Koster fils provides names for the faces of such set visitors as producer Jerry Wald, associate producer (and Mrs. Danny Kaye) Sylvia Fine, make-up man Perc Westmore, musical director Johnny Green, Mrs. Francis Lederer, Florence Marley (QUEEN OF BLOOD!) and actress Peggy Moran (THE MUMMY’S HAND), who was Henry Koster’s second wife and Bob Koster’s stepmother. Bob Koster also makes brief mention to the sad decline of Barbara Bates, though steers wide of discussing her 1969 suicide; similarly, he attributes Walter Slezak’s death in 1983 from cancer, when the Viennese actor also took his own life, despondent over his declining health. One of the real treats of this supplement, for film geeks, is seeing Woody Bredell’s big Technicolor camera in action, pushed on a dolly track by a crew of at least ten people. Shout!Factor has gone the extra mile of providing their INSPECTOR GENERAL DVD with a reversible keepcase insert, allowing the viewer his or her choice of vintage poster designs. Obtain!

66 Responses What’s all this nonsense? THE INSPECTOR GENERAL, starring Danny Kaye, that’s what!
Posted By Al Lowe : December 2, 2011 9:14 am

I guess I’ll rush in where Angels fear to tread.

First, some minor carping, complaining and nitpicking.

I don’t know how Kaye’s Hollywood career could be considered relativelty brief. He was very active between 1944 and 1963 and was extremely popular in the late 40s and early 50s.

But the comment that really makes me wail and gnash my teeth is when you helpfully point out that this is not the movie where Kaye buys a holiday inn. You have to be referring to WHITE CHRISTMAS and that is definitely not its plot!!!!! I don’t have the energy or patience to clarify this for you. Besides, everyone in the United States of America knows its plot. Everyone except you. (Are you a citizen?) WHITE CHRISTMAS was a huge hit when it was released and has aired every Christmas season for many, many years.
It sounds to me like you don’t know much about Kaye or his movies.
Look, I generally enjoy your writing but, from my perspective, this is the biggest mistake ever made in a Morlock column. (I am holding back from calling it the stupidest and most idiotic.)
What are you going to say next? GONE WITH THE WIND was a movie set in the East?
Anyway, thanks for bringing the DVD to our attention. And be patient with me. But it is tough when someone makes a glaring, horrendous error about a movie that I and plenty of others have seen so many, many times.

Posted By Al Lowe : December 2, 2011 9:14 am

I guess I’ll rush in where Angels fear to tread.

First, some minor carping, complaining and nitpicking.

I don’t know how Kaye’s Hollywood career could be considered relativelty brief. He was very active between 1944 and 1963 and was extremely popular in the late 40s and early 50s.

But the comment that really makes me wail and gnash my teeth is when you helpfully point out that this is not the movie where Kaye buys a holiday inn. You have to be referring to WHITE CHRISTMAS and that is definitely not its plot!!!!! I don’t have the energy or patience to clarify this for you. Besides, everyone in the United States of America knows its plot. Everyone except you. (Are you a citizen?) WHITE CHRISTMAS was a huge hit when it was released and has aired every Christmas season for many, many years.
It sounds to me like you don’t know much about Kaye or his movies.
Look, I generally enjoy your writing but, from my perspective, this is the biggest mistake ever made in a Morlock column. (I am holding back from calling it the stupidest and most idiotic.)
What are you going to say next? GONE WITH THE WIND was a movie set in the East?
Anyway, thanks for bringing the DVD to our attention. And be patient with me. But it is tough when someone makes a glaring, horrendous error about a movie that I and plenty of others have seen so many, many times.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : December 2, 2011 9:53 am

Al, next week I’m writing up A Streetcar Named Desire, the great Neil Simon comedy set in Egypt. Probably best you don’t read that one.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : December 2, 2011 9:53 am

Al, next week I’m writing up A Streetcar Named Desire, the great Neil Simon comedy set in Egypt. Probably best you don’t read that one.

Posted By Jim Vecchio : December 2, 2011 10:32 am

The commentary sounds very, very interesting. Other than that, THE INSPECTOR GENERAL is a title I’ve seen in more bargain-basement VHS and DVD sales than any other single title!

Posted By Jim Vecchio : December 2, 2011 10:32 am

The commentary sounds very, very interesting. Other than that, THE INSPECTOR GENERAL is a title I’ve seen in more bargain-basement VHS and DVD sales than any other single title!

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : December 2, 2011 10:57 am

But it is tough when someone makes a glaring, horrendous error…

Or, as I like to call it, has a bit of fun at the expense of people who confuse Holiday Inn with White Christmas. Al, just keep repeating to yourself “it’s only a movie… only a movie… only a movie…”

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : December 2, 2011 10:57 am

But it is tough when someone makes a glaring, horrendous error…

Or, as I like to call it, has a bit of fun at the expense of people who confuse Holiday Inn with White Christmas. Al, just keep repeating to yourself “it’s only a movie… only a movie… only a movie…”

Posted By Jenni : December 2, 2011 11:27 am

I’ve enjoyed the Kaye film where he has to remember “the vessel with the pessle” and “the flagon with the dragon”, and TSLOWalterMitty, so I am curious to see this new to me movie. FYI, PBS used to air a show called “Wishbone” starring a Jack Russell terrior, acting out famous stories from literature, and one of our family’s favorites was when the show presented The Inspector General. They also presented a great Frankenstein, the dog playing Dr. F. I know the show’s premise sounds whacky, but it was a great program, my kids still remember the literature portrayed, and Betty Buckley(broadway star, 8 is Enough) was the executive producer.

Posted By Jenni : December 2, 2011 11:27 am

I’ve enjoyed the Kaye film where he has to remember “the vessel with the pessle” and “the flagon with the dragon”, and TSLOWalterMitty, so I am curious to see this new to me movie. FYI, PBS used to air a show called “Wishbone” starring a Jack Russell terrior, acting out famous stories from literature, and one of our family’s favorites was when the show presented The Inspector General. They also presented a great Frankenstein, the dog playing Dr. F. I know the show’s premise sounds whacky, but it was a great program, my kids still remember the literature portrayed, and Betty Buckley(broadway star, 8 is Enough) was the executive producer.

Posted By Bob Gutowski : December 2, 2011 11:32 am

Hmm! Thanks for the still! I thought Elsa Lanchester only came in black and white…umm, yeah. My enjoyment of Kaye’s films is always somewhat diminished, in direct inverse ratio, by how much he is delighting in delighting himself, but he was something, wasn’t he?

Posted By Bob Gutowski : December 2, 2011 11:32 am

Hmm! Thanks for the still! I thought Elsa Lanchester only came in black and white…umm, yeah. My enjoyment of Kaye’s films is always somewhat diminished, in direct inverse ratio, by how much he is delighting in delighting himself, but he was something, wasn’t he?

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : December 2, 2011 11:45 am

Yeah, Bob, I nearly broached the subject of Kaye’s ability to divide a room but then I opted not to. Like Robin Williams, he’ll either have you rolling on the floor or rolling your eyes. And now, to contradict myself, I find I’m often smack dab in the middle. I do like him (Hans Christian Anderson remains a favorite even though the thing goes on forever and Hans gets a little obsessive in the second act) but as I said above it’s the supporting cast who really makes this for me, particularly Walter Slezak and Alan Hale.

And Al Lowe’s objections notwithstanding, I think Kaye’s mugging has a lot to do with his – I say it again – relatively brief (relative to his enduring fame) tenure as a Hollywood leading man. His most active period was when he was locked into studio contracts but end-to-end this period lasted only about 15 years (and as many films), with his last starring roles spaced pretty far apart. He just couldn’t sustain the same level of popularity, not in film, and he had greater continued success onstage and television – interestingly, where he was seen at a great distance and extremely close up! (He was also, of course, popular on the radio, where you couldn’t see him at all.) Most of us grew up with Kaye on TV, in his TV specials or pitching U.N.I.C.E.F. and he really does have that dotty old uncle quality – you kind of think he’s annoying but you love him just the same.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : December 2, 2011 11:45 am

Yeah, Bob, I nearly broached the subject of Kaye’s ability to divide a room but then I opted not to. Like Robin Williams, he’ll either have you rolling on the floor or rolling your eyes. And now, to contradict myself, I find I’m often smack dab in the middle. I do like him (Hans Christian Anderson remains a favorite even though the thing goes on forever and Hans gets a little obsessive in the second act) but as I said above it’s the supporting cast who really makes this for me, particularly Walter Slezak and Alan Hale.

And Al Lowe’s objections notwithstanding, I think Kaye’s mugging has a lot to do with his – I say it again – relatively brief (relative to his enduring fame) tenure as a Hollywood leading man. His most active period was when he was locked into studio contracts but end-to-end this period lasted only about 15 years (and as many films), with his last starring roles spaced pretty far apart. He just couldn’t sustain the same level of popularity, not in film, and he had greater continued success onstage and television – interestingly, where he was seen at a great distance and extremely close up! (He was also, of course, popular on the radio, where you couldn’t see him at all.) Most of us grew up with Kaye on TV, in his TV specials or pitching U.N.I.C.E.F. and he really does have that dotty old uncle quality – you kind of think he’s annoying but you love him just the same.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : December 2, 2011 11:46 am

Jenni, I remember Wishbone and a friend of mine was one of the writers – makes me wonder if he wrote the Inspector General episode.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : December 2, 2011 11:46 am

Jenni, I remember Wishbone and a friend of mine was one of the writers – makes me wonder if he wrote the Inspector General episode.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : December 2, 2011 12:01 pm

Laura and I and the kids are all very familiar with Wishbone to the point where I can make referential jokes to it and not lose anyone. It often comes in the form of someone doing something tangentially related to anything in literature, like saying, “I’m going up to my room,” at which point I put on the Wishbone voice and say, “That brings to mind one of the great works of literature, Jane Eyre. In it, Jane is…” Ah, yes, what’s the story Wishbone?

Posted By Greg Ferrara : December 2, 2011 12:01 pm

Laura and I and the kids are all very familiar with Wishbone to the point where I can make referential jokes to it and not lose anyone. It often comes in the form of someone doing something tangentially related to anything in literature, like saying, “I’m going up to my room,” at which point I put on the Wishbone voice and say, “That brings to mind one of the great works of literature, Jane Eyre. In it, Jane is…” Ah, yes, what’s the story Wishbone?

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : December 2, 2011 12:04 pm

Wow, Wishbone’s been dead 10 years now.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : December 2, 2011 12:04 pm

Wow, Wishbone’s been dead 10 years now.

Posted By suzidoll : December 2, 2011 1:12 pm

I LOVE Danny Kaye and most of his films unapologetically. I fondly remember his variety show on TV from the 1960s because it often featured the last of the old-time show-biz stalwarts. Kaye was a terrific physical comedian, though his real schtick was a sort-of vocal gymnastics with word play (which is why we all remember “the vessel with the pestle with the brew that is true”). Perhaps it’s a style of comedy that is out of sync with contemporary humor, which is cynical, gross, snarky, or ironic–types of comedy I am really annoyed with because it’s so narrow and there is so little craft to it.

Posted By suzidoll : December 2, 2011 1:12 pm

I LOVE Danny Kaye and most of his films unapologetically. I fondly remember his variety show on TV from the 1960s because it often featured the last of the old-time show-biz stalwarts. Kaye was a terrific physical comedian, though his real schtick was a sort-of vocal gymnastics with word play (which is why we all remember “the vessel with the pestle with the brew that is true”). Perhaps it’s a style of comedy that is out of sync with contemporary humor, which is cynical, gross, snarky, or ironic–types of comedy I am really annoyed with because it’s so narrow and there is so little craft to it.

Posted By cdthomas : December 2, 2011 1:39 pm

You couldn’t really fit in his biggest triumph — his stand at the London Palladium, where he was the toast of post-war Britain. Between that and UNICEF, he’s aces in my book.

Posted By cdthomas : December 2, 2011 1:39 pm

You couldn’t really fit in his biggest triumph — his stand at the London Palladium, where he was the toast of post-war Britain. Between that and UNICEF, he’s aces in my book.

Posted By Jenni : December 2, 2011 1:49 pm

No! Wishbone dead??!! Sniff, sniff! Really, that shocked me at first, but it shouldn’t as dogs don’t live a long time. I’ll always have the DVDs to remember him by! @Suzi, I thought of you as I’ve been watching the old tv show Route 66″ and today’s show was filmed entirely in Chicago. Starred some old-time actors too, Lou Adler, Glenda Farrell, and Frank McHugh, buddy of James Cagney.

Posted By Jenni : December 2, 2011 1:49 pm

No! Wishbone dead??!! Sniff, sniff! Really, that shocked me at first, but it shouldn’t as dogs don’t live a long time. I’ll always have the DVDs to remember him by! @Suzi, I thought of you as I’ve been watching the old tv show Route 66″ and today’s show was filmed entirely in Chicago. Starred some old-time actors too, Lou Adler, Glenda Farrell, and Frank McHugh, buddy of James Cagney.

Posted By Al Lowe : December 2, 2011 3:25 pm

Well, I’ll try this again.

Richard, by your standards, ALL movie comedians have relatively short careers. The Marx Brothers heyday was in the 30s and 40s. Bob Hope – and Abbott and Costello – peaked in the 40s. Jerry Lewis was most popular in the 50s and 60s. All made personal appearances and attracted audiences on television. (You might want to say that the Marxes made no personal appearances but they had been headliners in vaudeville and on Broadway; Chico Marx starred with a band all over the country. Groucho and Chico did radio and Groucho was very successful on TV.) Vaudeville and Broadway headliner W.C. Fields did radio and made his great movies in the 30s and 40s – until his death.

Kaye’s weekly TV shows were not ratings grabbers. CBS kept him because they liked him. They didn’t like Judy Garland and dumped her.
The sensational appearances in England were at the start of the 1950s.
His first movie, UP IN ARMS, was well liked and so were almost all the others (even those that sucked, like A SONG IS BORN) until the mid-50s. Amazingly enough, the wonderful COURT JESTER was not a hit at the time.
For a while he was one of the top 10 popular stars in some polls of exhibitors.
After 1956 he still made movies. I’m sure he and others wanted them to be popular. They weren’t. He made 2 in 1958, 1 in 1959, 1 in 1961 and 1 in 1963. A movie career from 1944 to 1963 is 20 years. So, I disagree with your assessment of his having a relatively brief, not too important movie career.
And, I think we all realize that actors’ and performers’ energy, vigor and how they age affects the length of their careers.

So, Richard, my friend, on this subject anyway, you don’t know what you are talking about.

Regarding your “It’s only a movie” comment, isn’t the Morlocks column supposed to be a place where you and your readers write about movies you care about?
This particular column was good in analyzing the movie and promoting the DVD.
It is bad in that you don’t seem to care about the facts and I don’t think you really care for the subject, Danny Kaye.

Posted By Al Lowe : December 2, 2011 3:25 pm

Well, I’ll try this again.

Richard, by your standards, ALL movie comedians have relatively short careers. The Marx Brothers heyday was in the 30s and 40s. Bob Hope – and Abbott and Costello – peaked in the 40s. Jerry Lewis was most popular in the 50s and 60s. All made personal appearances and attracted audiences on television. (You might want to say that the Marxes made no personal appearances but they had been headliners in vaudeville and on Broadway; Chico Marx starred with a band all over the country. Groucho and Chico did radio and Groucho was very successful on TV.) Vaudeville and Broadway headliner W.C. Fields did radio and made his great movies in the 30s and 40s – until his death.

Kaye’s weekly TV shows were not ratings grabbers. CBS kept him because they liked him. They didn’t like Judy Garland and dumped her.
The sensational appearances in England were at the start of the 1950s.
His first movie, UP IN ARMS, was well liked and so were almost all the others (even those that sucked, like A SONG IS BORN) until the mid-50s. Amazingly enough, the wonderful COURT JESTER was not a hit at the time.
For a while he was one of the top 10 popular stars in some polls of exhibitors.
After 1956 he still made movies. I’m sure he and others wanted them to be popular. They weren’t. He made 2 in 1958, 1 in 1959, 1 in 1961 and 1 in 1963. A movie career from 1944 to 1963 is 20 years. So, I disagree with your assessment of his having a relatively brief, not too important movie career.
And, I think we all realize that actors’ and performers’ energy, vigor and how they age affects the length of their careers.

So, Richard, my friend, on this subject anyway, you don’t know what you are talking about.

Regarding your “It’s only a movie” comment, isn’t the Morlocks column supposed to be a place where you and your readers write about movies you care about?
This particular column was good in analyzing the movie and promoting the DVD.
It is bad in that you don’t seem to care about the facts and I don’t think you really care for the subject, Danny Kaye.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : December 2, 2011 4:12 pm

I maintain that Danny Kaye’s Hollywood career (as a film actor/star) is brief with respect to his lasting fame in that I suspect many people would be surprised that he only made as many movies as he did compared to, say, Red Skelton, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, or even Abbott and Costello, whose heyday lasted for as many years but who appeared in considerably more features. It wasn’t meant as a qualitative remark about his talent, and so your summation of my remarks (” … your assessment of his having a relatively brief, not too important movie career”) doesn’t reflect what I actually said.

As for your question about what the Morlocks blog should be, my answer is that it is exactly what we Morlocks want it to be. Many of us write elsewhere about movies in a more straight-faced, historical and informative fashion, but use this blog as something more personal, where we can talk about the movies we love with a little more ease and humor.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : December 2, 2011 4:12 pm

I maintain that Danny Kaye’s Hollywood career (as a film actor/star) is brief with respect to his lasting fame in that I suspect many people would be surprised that he only made as many movies as he did compared to, say, Red Skelton, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, or even Abbott and Costello, whose heyday lasted for as many years but who appeared in considerably more features. It wasn’t meant as a qualitative remark about his talent, and so your summation of my remarks (” … your assessment of his having a relatively brief, not too important movie career”) doesn’t reflect what I actually said.

As for your question about what the Morlocks blog should be, my answer is that it is exactly what we Morlocks want it to be. Many of us write elsewhere about movies in a more straight-faced, historical and informative fashion, but use this blog as something more personal, where we can talk about the movies we love with a little more ease and humor.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : December 2, 2011 4:18 pm

This whole thing reminds me of Victoria and her relatively short reign as Queen.

Anyway, what Richard says in the second paragraph is absolutely true. I think we’ve got a great blog going here and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : December 2, 2011 4:18 pm

This whole thing reminds me of Victoria and her relatively short reign as Queen.

Anyway, what Richard says in the second paragraph is absolutely true. I think we’ve got a great blog going here and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : December 2, 2011 4:24 pm

Well, relatively is such a relative term.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : December 2, 2011 4:24 pm

Well, relatively is such a relative term.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : December 2, 2011 4:25 pm

Plus, isn’t anyone going to say something about Elsa Lanchester grabbing Danny Kaye’s junk?

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : December 2, 2011 4:25 pm

Plus, isn’t anyone going to say something about Elsa Lanchester grabbing Danny Kaye’s junk?

Posted By Greg Ferrara : December 2, 2011 4:51 pm

Yes, it was quite ballsy of her. She clearly has the upper… er… lower hand.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : December 2, 2011 4:51 pm

Yes, it was quite ballsy of her. She clearly has the upper… er… lower hand.

Posted By dukeroberts : December 3, 2011 6:56 pm

I think Elsa probably wanted a little junk on the side, as her husband was getting junk on the side. Same KIND of junk too.

Al- I won’t object to any argument you made with Richard. It reads pretty harsh though, in tone.

Posted By dukeroberts : December 3, 2011 6:56 pm

I think Elsa probably wanted a little junk on the side, as her husband was getting junk on the side. Same KIND of junk too.

Al- I won’t object to any argument you made with Richard. It reads pretty harsh though, in tone.

Posted By dukeroberts : December 3, 2011 6:58 pm

I’ve always liked Danny Kaye. I know he is an acquired taste, and I wouldn’t expose just anybody to his movies, but he had a great period of fun films in his “relatively brief” starring vehicles.

Posted By dukeroberts : December 3, 2011 6:58 pm

I’ve always liked Danny Kaye. I know he is an acquired taste, and I wouldn’t expose just anybody to his movies, but he had a great period of fun films in his “relatively brief” starring vehicles.

Posted By Jane H. : December 3, 2011 8:31 pm

I’d like to see “Merry Andrew” again, where a timid professor type joins the circus. I remember seeing it in color at the drive-in when I was young, and a decade or so later on my black-and-white TV. And I still remember most of the song “Everything is Tickety-boo” and the song Kaye’s character made of the Pythagorean theorem. So I guess that says that when Danny got paired with the right song, it was very memorable. I think the Pythagorean and other mathematical theorems should always be taught as songs!

Posted By Jane H. : December 3, 2011 8:31 pm

I’d like to see “Merry Andrew” again, where a timid professor type joins the circus. I remember seeing it in color at the drive-in when I was young, and a decade or so later on my black-and-white TV. And I still remember most of the song “Everything is Tickety-boo” and the song Kaye’s character made of the Pythagorean theorem. So I guess that says that when Danny got paired with the right song, it was very memorable. I think the Pythagorean and other mathematical theorems should always be taught as songs!

Posted By dukeroberts : December 3, 2011 9:27 pm
Posted By dukeroberts : December 3, 2011 9:27 pm
Posted By dukeroberts : December 3, 2011 9:28 pm

Rats! “Embed Disabled”! Curse you, YouTube!

Posted By dukeroberts : December 3, 2011 9:28 pm

Rats! “Embed Disabled”! Curse you, YouTube!

Posted By tdraicer : December 3, 2011 9:35 pm

I could be wrong, but my impression was always not that Kaye ceased to be popular in films but rather that he lost interest in making films, preferring other work (such as tv, plays, and concerts) which didn’t involve as much sitting around.

Posted By tdraicer : December 3, 2011 9:35 pm

I could be wrong, but my impression was always not that Kaye ceased to be popular in films but rather that he lost interest in making films, preferring other work (such as tv, plays, and concerts) which didn’t involve as much sitting around.

Posted By Jane H. : December 4, 2011 1:23 am

dukeroberts, you’re absolutely crackers!

Posted By Jane H. : December 4, 2011 1:23 am

dukeroberts, you’re absolutely crackers!

Posted By dukeroberts : December 4, 2011 1:28 am

Why thank you, Jane. I am a big cracker fan. I enjoy crackers of all types and stripes, including but not limited to saltines, Ritz, Chicken in a Biscuit, Wheat Thins, Triscuits and Sociables. Unfortunately, most are made of wheat and I’m allergic to wheat. However, they are making some great things with rice these days.

Posted By dukeroberts : December 4, 2011 1:28 am

Why thank you, Jane. I am a big cracker fan. I enjoy crackers of all types and stripes, including but not limited to saltines, Ritz, Chicken in a Biscuit, Wheat Thins, Triscuits and Sociables. Unfortunately, most are made of wheat and I’m allergic to wheat. However, they are making some great things with rice these days.

Posted By Ariel S. : December 5, 2011 7:09 am

What an absolute delight!!!! I am so fabulously excited about this! Danny Kaye has been my favorite comedy actor since I was a kid and it’s so nice that a great disc of this has finally come out. Great write up & I can’t wait to grab one & dig in to all those special features…

Posted By Ariel S. : December 5, 2011 7:09 am

What an absolute delight!!!! I am so fabulously excited about this! Danny Kaye has been my favorite comedy actor since I was a kid and it’s so nice that a great disc of this has finally come out. Great write up & I can’t wait to grab one & dig in to all those special features…

Posted By Heidi : December 5, 2011 1:37 pm

Well, If I was in Elsa’s shoes, I might have done the same thing. For fun and knowing it was on camera to boot. I love Danny Kaye, everything I have seen him in. I agree that most people I know either love him or…”meh”. I am not a fan of Robin Williams, never have been. He makes my skin crawl. I will take Danny Kaye, whether he is in an Inn or not.

Posted By Heidi : December 5, 2011 1:37 pm

Well, If I was in Elsa’s shoes, I might have done the same thing. For fun and knowing it was on camera to boot. I love Danny Kaye, everything I have seen him in. I agree that most people I know either love him or…”meh”. I am not a fan of Robin Williams, never have been. He makes my skin crawl. I will take Danny Kaye, whether he is in an Inn or not.

Posted By DBenson : December 5, 2011 4:30 pm

I’ve read mixed opinions of Kaye’s off-camera personality, but Basil Rathbone — the villain in “The Court Jester” — enjoyed working with him. He was especially impressed at Kaye’s mimicry skills, which extended to fencing at Rathbone’s level after comparatively brief training.

Posted By DBenson : December 5, 2011 4:30 pm

I’ve read mixed opinions of Kaye’s off-camera personality, but Basil Rathbone — the villain in “The Court Jester” — enjoyed working with him. He was especially impressed at Kaye’s mimicry skills, which extended to fencing at Rathbone’s level after comparatively brief training.

Posted By Juana Maria : December 6, 2011 12:22 pm

I have always enjoyed watching “The Inspector General”. My mom and I used to watch it on PAX channel(now ION television) for the midday movie. It was so funny! We would laugh and laugh. I have also seen “The Court Jester”. It is very silly, I love it! My sister and I grew up watching “Wishbone”. It really did help my love of literature. I have read a great many books and not all of them for school. Movies can give us such happiness, especially when the actors are so talented. Thanks for the article.

Posted By Juana Maria : December 6, 2011 12:22 pm

I have always enjoyed watching “The Inspector General”. My mom and I used to watch it on PAX channel(now ION television) for the midday movie. It was so funny! We would laugh and laugh. I have also seen “The Court Jester”. It is very silly, I love it! My sister and I grew up watching “Wishbone”. It really did help my love of literature. I have read a great many books and not all of them for school. Movies can give us such happiness, especially when the actors are so talented. Thanks for the article.

Posted By MedusaMorlock : December 9, 2011 8:39 pm

Of course I have to chime in here — Kaye is my long-time favorite comedian. Check out my stash of Kaye memorabilia in my closet and you’ll understand! I think “The Inspector General” is a great movie, as RHS says because of a top-notch supporting cast, lush production values, classic comedy routines and a liberal dose of romance. Kaye’s great in the movie, with a really good acting job and quite charming and vulnerable.

I *do* think Danny had a brief movie career, brief in terms of only a dozen and a half features over his career, and that’s much less than most major screen comedians. I was always so frustrated with only 17 or so titles to collect stills from instead of the dozens that other top comics churned out.

I think of his movie career as something that could have been so much more had he been, perhaps, not with Sam Goldwyn at the beginning and instead had a chance to go with a bigger studio with more potential output. That could have had other consequences for him, but we’d have more Kaye titles to ponder, probably. And Warner Bros. should have let him do “Marjorie Morningstar”!

Such a divisive comedian, simple and yet incredibly sophisticated, and probably too talented for his own good. Though you didn’t hear as much about his abrasive personality during his prime movie years, he sort of got a reputation as less-than-pleasant later on, something I saw much later when I had a couple of occasions to be present at a TV taping and in an interview setting at his house. He did not suffer fools, that’s for sure, but also left stories of what we’d consider inappropriate snippity-ness in his wake. I still love him, but he was a classic many-faceted clown with a deep intellect and the complexity to match.

I’m glad to hear that the Henry Koster footage is included. I had seen this many years before when it was shopped to us at TCM in the early days of the channel — along with much other Koster footage – and I feared I’d never see it again. Fears averted!

I’m also assuming the transfer is superb — too many awful public domain prints circulated around but this is a gorgeous movie and Danny has seldom looked so great or that backlot so quaint!

Always glad to read anything about my favorite Danny!

Posted By MedusaMorlock : December 9, 2011 8:39 pm

Of course I have to chime in here — Kaye is my long-time favorite comedian. Check out my stash of Kaye memorabilia in my closet and you’ll understand! I think “The Inspector General” is a great movie, as RHS says because of a top-notch supporting cast, lush production values, classic comedy routines and a liberal dose of romance. Kaye’s great in the movie, with a really good acting job and quite charming and vulnerable.

I *do* think Danny had a brief movie career, brief in terms of only a dozen and a half features over his career, and that’s much less than most major screen comedians. I was always so frustrated with only 17 or so titles to collect stills from instead of the dozens that other top comics churned out.

I think of his movie career as something that could have been so much more had he been, perhaps, not with Sam Goldwyn at the beginning and instead had a chance to go with a bigger studio with more potential output. That could have had other consequences for him, but we’d have more Kaye titles to ponder, probably. And Warner Bros. should have let him do “Marjorie Morningstar”!

Such a divisive comedian, simple and yet incredibly sophisticated, and probably too talented for his own good. Though you didn’t hear as much about his abrasive personality during his prime movie years, he sort of got a reputation as less-than-pleasant later on, something I saw much later when I had a couple of occasions to be present at a TV taping and in an interview setting at his house. He did not suffer fools, that’s for sure, but also left stories of what we’d consider inappropriate snippity-ness in his wake. I still love him, but he was a classic many-faceted clown with a deep intellect and the complexity to match.

I’m glad to hear that the Henry Koster footage is included. I had seen this many years before when it was shopped to us at TCM in the early days of the channel — along with much other Koster footage – and I feared I’d never see it again. Fears averted!

I’m also assuming the transfer is superb — too many awful public domain prints circulated around but this is a gorgeous movie and Danny has seldom looked so great or that backlot so quaint!

Always glad to read anything about my favorite Danny!

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : December 10, 2011 12:25 pm

I *do* think Danny had a brief movie career, brief in terms of only a dozen and a half features over his career, and that’s much less than most major screen comedians.

Certainly, Kaye was around for a long, long time, in one medium or another. My original point was that, as you say, he made fewer movies than I’d bet most of his admirers remember. My observation was never meant as a qualitative assessment of Kaye’s worth or value to the entertainment industry, which is why I was dumbfounded by the extreme reaction. Comparing his career to anyone else’s only muddied the waters. I think it does a lot of us good to spend a little extra IMDb time (as I often do) looking at the specific resumes of certain actors to appreciate the arc of their brilliant careers.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : December 10, 2011 12:25 pm

I *do* think Danny had a brief movie career, brief in terms of only a dozen and a half features over his career, and that’s much less than most major screen comedians.

Certainly, Kaye was around for a long, long time, in one medium or another. My original point was that, as you say, he made fewer movies than I’d bet most of his admirers remember. My observation was never meant as a qualitative assessment of Kaye’s worth or value to the entertainment industry, which is why I was dumbfounded by the extreme reaction. Comparing his career to anyone else’s only muddied the waters. I think it does a lot of us good to spend a little extra IMDb time (as I often do) looking at the specific resumes of certain actors to appreciate the arc of their brilliant careers.

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