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Barbara Bel Geddes,
Shy milkman Burleigh Sullivan accidentally knocks out drunken Speed McFarlane, a champion boxer who was flirting with Burleigh's sister. The newspapers get hold of the story and photographers even catch Burleigh knock out Speed again. Speed's crooked manager decides to turn Burleigh into a fighter. Burleigh doesn't realize that all of his opponents have been asked to take a dive. Thinking he really is a great fighter, Burleigh develops a swelled head which puts a crimp in his relationship with pretty nightclub singer Polly Pringle. He may finally get his comeuppance when he challenges Speed for the title.Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <email@example.com>
If you are looking to see Danny Kaye in his absolute prime, look no further than "The Kid from Brooklyn". This film was the third made by Kaye during his first filming contract (MGM) and it's fresh and funny even now in 2006 for so many reasons. Having cut his teeth in "Up In Arms" and "Wonder Man", he appears more polished and his act has found its place. This is the film where he would "find his mark" and then subsequently hit a grand-slam with "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty".
Here is the Kaye most beloved by all -- the nervous, lovable milquetoast with a secret extrovert/entertainer side, incredible physical comedy and exuberance; a funny, fast-paced almost screwball script featuring the best on-screen partners Kaye would ever work with (particularly his unscrupulous manager and wonderfully deadpan Eve Arden); the always lovely Virgina Mayo as his love interest; and spectacular music/dance numbers, including his tongue-twisting "Pavlowa". This is Kaye bursting with energy, youth and vitality, on-top-of the world (literally) and knowing it. Kaye could literally do no wrong from 1940 - 1950, and this film captures the confidence and joie de vivre that can only come from knowing that the entire world worships every move you make and word you say. This was Kaye's time in the sun and he soaks up every ray and sends it into the camera.
In addition, this film benefits greatly from a more ensemble feel. Kaye is clearly the star, but there is balance with songs and dancing from other members of the cast. It's my opinion that his best work (if not the most memorable) came when he was still on the rise and had to take orders from the studio bosses. In his later films -- such as "Hans Christian Andersen" -- Kaye would have more control and would even exercise this control to eliminate "competition" from other actors by singing the songs written for other characters. In the "Kid from Brooklyn", we see a humbler, hungrier Kaye.
Also -- this is often overlooked -- the historical context of this film adds much to your enjoyment of it. Not only was Kaye on top of the world, but America was, having emerged victorious from WWII and with a booming economy. The optimism shines through in the songs, the dance, and especially the incredibly saturated, gorgeous color photography. This was a Technicolor picture when most films were shot in black and white (and would continue to be for the next 15-20 years!) and you sense that MGM wanted not just color on the screen, but C-O-L-O-R! Check out some of the outfits, particularly worn by Eve Arden -- they are almost overwhelming in their colorfulness and this adds to the fun. It's almost like watching a Disney cartoon, it is that colorful.
Add to it the period flavor -- the incredible costumes, the inherent dash and style of a bypassed era when even a milkman looked eye-catching -- and you can't help but brim over with fun watching this film. I have watched this many times in my life and here I am, a world-weary Generation Xer hitting 36 and I still let out a pure, spontaneous laugh at the non-cynical humor. This film is just funny and fun -- period.
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