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Danny Kaye: The Goldwyn Years [4 Discs] [DVD]

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$42.99
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Overview

Synopsis

The Kid from Brooklyn
Danny Kaye's The Kid From Brooklyn is a virtual scene-for-scene remake of Harold Lloyd's The Milky Way (1936), with music and Technicolor added to the proceedings. Kaye is cast as timid milkman Burleigh Sullivan, who through a fluke knocks out prizefighting champion Speed McFarlane (Steve Cochran). Sensing a swell publicity angle, McFarlane's manager Gabby Sloan (Walter Abel) promotes Burleigh as the next middleweight champ-and to insure this victory, Gabby fixes several pre-title bouts. Unaware that his fighting prowess is a sham, Burleigh develops a swelled head, which alienates him from everyone he cares about, including his sweetheart Polly Pringle (Virginia Mayo). The truth comes out during the climactic title fight, but a chastened Burleigh emerges victorious thanks to a series of incredible plot twists. The strong supporting cast includes Vera-Ellen as Burleigh's sister Susie, Eve Arden as Gabby's wisecracking girl friday Ann Westley, and, repeating his role from Milky Way, Lionel Stander as Speed's lamebrained trainer Spider Schultz. Danny Kaye does his best to play Burleigh Sullivan rather than Danny Kaye, though his efforts are undermined by the interpolated "specialty" number "Pavlova," which just plain doesn't belong in this picture. Like The Milky Way, The Kid From Brooklyn was adapted from the Broadway play by Lynn Root. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Wonder Man
Danny Kaye plays the first of his cinematic dual roles in Goldwyn's Wonder Man. Kaye appears as timid librarian Edwin Dingle and Edwin's extroverted twin brother, nightclub entertainer Buzzy Bellew. When Buzzy witnesses a gangland shooting, he himself is rubbed out by mob boss Ten-Grand Jackson (Steve Cochran, in his movie debut). Before long, Edwin is visited by Buzzy's ghost, who persuades his bookish brother to help bring Jackson to justice. For the rest of the film, poor Edwin is possessed by his brother's sportive spirit, causing no end of confusion for Edwin's demure lady friend Ellen Shanley (Virginia Mayo) and Buzzy's more outgoing girlfriend, dancer Midge Mallon (Vera-Ellen, also making her first film appearance). Done up in splashy Technicolor, Wonder Man is perhaps Kaye's best Goldwyn-produced vehicle, permitting him to play a character (or characters) rather than a caricature. Highlights include an opera spoof (a variation of which showed up in Kaye's 1954 feature Knock on Wood), Danny's allergic rendition of "Otchi Chornya," and a wonderful vignette wherein Kaye imitates all the "inhabitants" of a pet shop. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Up in Arms
It is said that producer Sam Goldwyn had a habit of addressing his new star of the 1940s, Danny Kaye, as "Eddie", confusing Kaye with Eddie Cantor. If true, it may be because Kaye's first starring film for Goldwyn, Up in Arms, was a remake of Cantor's Whoopee--which in turn was a musical version of that old theatrical chestnut The Nervous Wreck. Kaye plays Danny Weems, a hopeless hypochondriac who finds himself drafted into the army. While a passenger on an overseas transport ship, Danny is obliged to hide his girl friend Mary Morgan (Constance Dowling), who has stowed away on board, from the authorities. The plot (what there is of it) contrives to have Danny and Mary, together with Virginia (Dinah Shore), who's in love with Danny, and Joe (Dana Andrews), who's in love with Mary, arrive simultaneously on the same South Sea island. After numerous comic and romantic complications, Danny emerges as the hero of the hour by capturing a whole bunch of Japanese soldiers. The film shows signs of post-production tampering-an offscreen narration, an abrupt ending-indicating that, as yet, Sam Goldwyn wasn't quite sure how to package Danny Kaye for the screen. Despite its erratic editing and uneven scenario, Up in Arms contains some priceless moments, including Kaye's rapid-patter songs "The Lobby Number" and "Melody in 4F", both written by Sylvia Fine (Mrs. Kaye) and Max Liebman. There are also a few cute "inside" jokes referring to the illogical nature of the plotline and such esoterica as the out-of-nowhere appearances of the Goldwyn Girls (one of whom was Kaye's future leading lady Virginia Mayo). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

A Song Is Born
A Song is Born is a musical remake of the 1941 comedy Ball of Fire, with the same producer (Sam Goldwyn) and director (Howard Hawks) at the helm. It will be recalled that the original film, co-scripted by Billy Wilder, was an amusing spin on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," wherein seven pedantic professors, working on a dictionary of slang, "adopted" an authority on the subject, breezy burlesque dancer Sugarpuss O'Shea. In the remake, the septet of scholars are working on an encyclopedia of music, but they're held up on the subject of "swing." When nightclub singer Honey Swanson (Virginia Mayo), escaping from her gangster suitor Tony Crow (Steve Cochran), takes refuge in the professors' home, she offers to introduce them to the world of popular music. This proves to be quite a tuneful undertaking, since two of the professors are played by Danny Kaye and Benny Goodman! The tang and zest of original plotline has been muted to the point of harmlessness, but the film is saved by the presence of Goodman, his fellow bandleaders Charlie Barnet, Tommy Dorsey and Mel Powell, and specialty performers Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton and Buck & Bubbles. A Song is Born was Danny Kaye's final starring vehicle for Sam Goldwyn. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Danny Kaye
    Danny Kaye - Burleigh Sullivan
  • Virginia Mayo
    Virginia Mayo - Polly Pringle
  • Vera-Ellen
    Vera-Ellen - Susie Sullivan
  • Steve Cochran
    Steve Cochran - Speed McFarlane
  • Eve Arden
    Eve Arden - Ann Westley
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