Wednesday, April 25, 2012


This was one of Danny Kaye's first big movie roles. Made in 1949, it features Kaye's inimitable blend of broad farce, unrivaled patter song prowess, unmerciful mugging, and a screen presence that, to me, can vary widely from charming to annoyingly overstated. A quite wonderful cast of supporting farceurs including Walter Slezak, Gene Lockhart, and Elsa Lancester add spice. 

A bit of trivia -  in the film, the ingenue role is played by Barbara Bates who had a quite brief and somewhat undistinguished film career - except that she played the girl (the new "Eve" as it were) in the last scene of ALL ABOUT EVE - that memorably ironic scene with Ann Baxter. This INSPECTOR GENERAL, like the Musto-Campbell opera currently onstage at the Shubert Theater, transfers the action from its original Gogolian Russia to some unnamed Mitteleuropa country during the Napoleonic era - but the plot stays essentially the same. The extended GYPSY SONG (lyrics written by the future wife of Kaye - Sylvia Fine) is a great showcase for the comic. The whole movie (available on DVD) is uneven and sometimes a bid draggy but when it's good (like Kaye) it is quite special. 

- BLO Artistic Advisor John Conklin


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