Hypochondriac Danny Weems gets drafted into the army and makes life miserable for his fellow GIs. He's also lovesick when it comes to pretty Mary Morgan, unaware that she's in love with his... See full summary »
Hypochondriac Danny Weems gets drafted into the army and makes life miserable for his fellow GIs. He's also lovesick when it comes to pretty Mary Morgan, unaware that she's in love with his best friend Joe. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Not Only Funny -- But Psychedelic FreakyWeird: Way Ahead of Its Time
I just saw this for the first time. I'm an old Danny Kaye fan -- grew up with Court Jester & other DK films; always appreciated his particular genius.
I only saw the second half of this film -- but it just blew me away. Of course, it already features the trademark Danny Kaye combination of showmanship, clowning, doe-eyed sincerity, patter-songs and absolutely beautiful vocal control that others mention here. And that is truly impressive. Also impressive in this film is the playing with gender, which is something DK could always get away with, but here comes out as particularly hyper and intense.
But what really shocked me was how ahead of its time this film was. Made during WWII, and absolutely full of patriotism and wartime idealism, all somehow mixed together with the idealism of romance and home and family, this was clearly a 1944 deal, with fake-looking classic Hollywood sound stage warships and sea scenes. But it looks much more like something out of 1955 or, God help us, 1966.
They don't really hide from that sound-set fakeness, esp. in the truly weird dream sequences, and the whole thing ends up looking more like Bob Fosse than the WWII propaganda film it's also trying to be. These sequences feature sets and costumes in co-ordinated "hot" pastels, a bartender-cum-minister-cum-scat singer, and I kid you not a bright sky blue goat. This segues into a scene with intense women in skimpy black clothing (think Robt Palmer's "Addicted to Love" video from the 1980s meets a 1890's bordello), some of whom are mounted/pinned/crucifed on trees/crosses/black wings set on poles.
In front of this, Danny Kaye in a devilish red suit does some of the most pure and outrageous absurdities I have EVER seen him do -- phasing in and out like the young Robin Williams on cocaine, switching into and out of a pastiche of popular song styles, slang, scat and African-American impersonation as if he were a black guy pretending to be a white guy pretending to be a black guy pretending to be a black guy. (In most of this, he is echoed capably -- but not brilliantly -- by Dinah Shore.) He is manic and brilliant and so very American and post-modern.
He is also incredibly young, and looks quite a bit like some manic, visionary rock star of today. (He resembles a bit the young Sting or Billy Idol.) And esp. in those fantasy scenes, the intensity combined with the costuming and showmanship made me realize that DK can be seen in that line of intense musical innovators/showmen that includes Prince and probably Jack White of the White Stripes.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?