6.9/10
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30 user 19 critic

Hans Christian Andersen (1952)

Trailer
2:37 | Trailer
The opening scene of the movie describes it best: "Once upon a time there lived in Denmark a great storyteller named Hans Christian Andersen. This is not the story of his life, but a fairy tale about the great spinner of fairy tales."

Director:

Charles Vidor

Writers:

Moss Hart (screenplay), Myles Connolly (based on a story by)
Reviews
Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Danny Kaye ... Hans Christian Andersen
Farley Granger ... Niels
Zizi Jeanmaire ... Doro (as Jeanmaire The Famous French Ballerina)
Joseph Walsh ... Peter (as Joey Walsh)
Philip Tonge ... Otto
Erik Bruhn Erik Bruhn ... The Hussar - Danced by
Roland Petit Roland Petit ... The Prince in 'The Little Mermaid' Ballet
John Brown John Brown ... Schoolmaster
John Qualen ... Burgomaster
Jeanne Lafayette Jeanne Lafayette ... Celine
Robert Malcolm ... Stage Doorman
George Chandler ... Farmer
Fred Kelsey ... First Gendarme
Gil Perkins ... Second Gendarme
Peter J. Votrian ... Lars (as Peter Votrian)
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Storyline

A completely fabricated biography of the famous Danish fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen featuring several of his stories and a ballet performance of "The Little Mermaid". Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The glorious story of the greatest storyteller of them all!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For a period of time in the 1940s to late 1950s, Hughes Tool Company ventured into the film and media industry, and owned the RKO companies, including: RKO Pictures; RKO Studios; RKO Theatres, a chain of movie theatres; and the RKO Radio Network, a network of radio stations. In 1948, multi-millionaire businessman, film producer, film director, and aviator, Howard Hughes gained control of RKO, a struggling major Hollywood studio, by acquiring 25 percent of the outstanding stock from Floyd Odlum's Atlas Corporation. In 1951, Universal Studios acquired the American distribution rights to the J. Arthur Rank-Archers feature film "The Red Shoes," originally released in a small London art house in September of 1948. Upon seeing it, Hughes was so impressed with Michael Powell's dance film, and especially with the Sadler Well's Ballet principal dancers Moira Shearer, Léonide Massine and Robert Helpmann, that he wanted his own ensemble corps de ballet company, in an effort to expand the creative base of RKO. Hughes had also been impressed with the success of "Les Ballets de Paris de Roland Petit." An outstanding classical dancer as a youth, Roland Petit swiftly decided on a career as a rebel against the traditionalism of the Paris Opera Ballet, and before the age of 25 had created three of his most iconic ballets, "Le Jeune Homme et La Mort," world premiere on 6/26/46, Les Ballets des Champs-Elysee, Theatre des Champs-Elysee, Paris; the Jean Cocteau ballet "Les Demoiselles de La Nuit," world premiere Theatre Marigry, Paris 5/21/48, Les Ballet de Paris de Roland Petit, featuring Margot Fonteyn; and the ballet "Carmen," world premiere in London, Prince's Theatre, on 2/21/49, with the sultry young Jeanmaire as the lethal female destroying a hapless male. These ballets caused a sensation worldwide and Petit and Jeanmaire swiftly became the most exciting names in French dance, closely associating with Jean Cocteau, Edith Piaf, Yves Montand and the new intellectuals of Left Bank Paris. Hughes contracted Roland Petit and his Paris-based "Ballet de Paris de Roland Petit" for film assignments, including all personal appearances in North America. Roland Petit and his core dance company flew from Paris to Los Angeles on Hughes' owned Trans-World-Airlines (TWA). The dance troupe, housed in a Culver City hotel, were assigned a soundstage for intense preparatory work-outs and dance rehearsals. After six months of isolation in Culver City, rehearsing, but with neither stage nor screen assignments forthcoming, the corps of dancers became extremely mutinous. En masse, the Parisian rebels packed their luggage, and went to the TWA Los Angeles terminal with their round trip tickets in hand. They did not know that their boss Howard Hughes owned TWA. The TWA passenger agents alerted Hughes that a horde of 'French gypsies' were at the TWA air terminal, demanding a return flight to Paris. RKO's studio security immediately descended upon the air terminal with a fleet of buses to round up Hughes' dance company, confiscating all of the tickets. Returning to their hotel, the dance troupe were assured that they would be put to work on a Hollywood musical film. Samuel Goldwyn was in pre-production for Hans Christian Anderson, starring Danny Kaye, with a story by Myles Connolly, a screenplay by Moss Hart and Ben Hecht, with words and original music composed by Frank Loesser. Samuel Goldwyn had initially offered the film's ballerina role to Moira Shearer. Since producer Samuel Goldwyn was under an RKO contract, Hughes ordered Goldwyn to use Roland Petit, Zizi Jeanmaire and Petit's Ballet de Paris dance troupe. Roland Petit insisted on his French stage production scenic and costume designer Antoni Clavé be flown to Hollywood as his film design collaborator. RKO costume designer Mary Wills joined the art department; Barbara "Madam" Karinska was brought from New York City to supervise and construct all of the film's ballet and principle's costumes. Art director Richard Day, another RKO film designer, collaborated with Antoni Clavé on all of the feature film's stage and ballet sets. Petit insisted hiring Danish danseur noble Erik Bruhn, one of the premier male dancers of the 20th-century, noted for his outstanding classical technique and immense stage presence. The film's director, Charles Vidor, was "cursed" with Roland Petit's creative involvement, since Petit weighed in on every scene and camera set-up. However, Roland Petit was the impetus for the movie's visual magic. See more »

Goofs

During the crossing of the Great Belt the still existing light tower on the island Sprogø is seen in the background. Although there was a light tower on the island when the 14 year-old Hans Christian Andersen went to Copenhagen, this particular tower was not built until 1869, when Andersen was 64 years old and had been a famous writer for many years. See more »

Quotes

Peter: Hans has gone to Copenhagen!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits: "Once upon a time there lived in Denmark a great storyteller named Hans Christian Andersen. This is not the story of his life, but a fairy tale about this great spinner of fairy tales." See more »

Connections

Referenced in Heart & Soul: The Life and Music of Frank Loesser (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Les Preludes
(uncredited)
Music by Franz Liszt
Arranged by Heinz Roemheld
See more »

User Reviews

 
A sugary children's movie? -actually, it's rather daring
18 July 1999 | by SpleenSee all my reviews

Every single biopic of a creative artist tells the same story, whether it's true or not: the Philistine World, or some part thereof, rejects the artist, and fails to see his greatness; but later on, perhaps during his lifetime, perhaps not, it sees the error of its ways. That happens here. Hans Christian Andersen is a village cobbler whose compulsive inventiveness is little thought of until he makes good in Copenhagen, after which...

But there's much more going on.

There's no doubt that Andersen was a great artist, in some sense. `The Ugly Duckling' and `The Emperor's New Clothes' are two of the greatest short stories - fables, folktales - all of these - ever composed. But he had his limitations. There were many kinds of stories he just couldn't write. His fertile talent for anthropomorphising was often a millstone. In many respects he seems to have been a childish and naive man. But get this: all of these limitations make it onto the screen. Both the story and Danny Kaye's performance (a great performance) make Andersen into a human being who is NOT the greatest storyteller since Shakespeare, but who can be admired for what he is.

The main story isn't the `unrecognised genius' bit: it's a story of unrequited love. While in Copenhagen Andersen spends most of his time banging his head against the wall over an unattainable ballerina, whose interest in him is, as they say, purely professional. He manages to be quite cruel to a close friend in the process, right up to the point where it's unclear that a reconciliation is possible. (Indeed, it's unclear whether or not one occurs.) When he realises what a fool he's been he just trudges back, defeated, to his village. And it's here we have the obligatory scene where the villagers realise how great he was after all, mainly by singing the highly memorable refrains of the movie's songs, one after the other. Well, the film needed some ending. I'm inclined to forgive this one.

There's also a lengthy Little Mermaid ballet - seven minutes long? more? - danced in its entirety. (We see a LOT of the ballerina's craft in Copenhagen.) This sort of thing wasn't too unusual in the 1950s but it's a genuine gamble in context - and one that I think pays off. By the time the ballet appears the cheery story of an eccentric village storyteller had become surprisingly dark. Vidor, it seems, would rather risk having people leave the cinema than insult those who remain. Good for him. I can't claim that this film works in every respect, and perhaps you won't like it, but I'm sure you won't feel cheated by it.


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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 August 1953 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Hans Christian Andersen See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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