The Secret Life Of Walter MittyA review - by Shlomoh Sherman
January 4, 2014
The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947)
Last week, Suzanne and I watched THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY; - No, not the one with Ben Stiller; the one with Danny Kaye. Both Suzanne and I are fans of Danny Kaye and I remember seeing this movie as a ten year old when it first came out in 1947. So when TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES showed it, we had to watch.
Kaye was such a versitile performer, an actor, a singer, a dancer, a comedian. His patter was fabulous!
Kenzy England, writing about him at http://voices.yahoo.com/danny-kaye-master-patter-7031162.html, had this too say:
She sites her 3 favorite Kaye patter movies, 'Up in Arms' (1944), 'The Inspector General' (1949), and 'The Court Jester' (1955). I believe that I saw at least the last mentioned. YAY VERILY YAY!
In Walter Mitty, he sings 2 songs using patter and German and French accents. James Thurber, who wrote the original short story from which the film was drawn, absolutely hated the movie and one of the things he hated most was that musical numbers were included. Watching Kaye do those numbers brought me back to a more innocent time.
Mitty, works as a pulp-fiction proofreader for a best selling magazine. His own boring life leads him to daydream himself into heroic situations in which he saves the day, mostly rescuing a damsel in distress. Among his fantasies, he is an ace fighter pilot, a ship captain, a surgeon, a fashion designer, and a Southern riverboat gambler.
His daydreams come true when he meets a beautiful woman, portrayed by the VERY beautiful Virginia Mayo. The woman leads him into a situation involving a group of murderous, political conspirators, wherein he actually has to save this damsel.
The ever-wonderful Boris Karloff portrays one of the villains.
The remake, according to a Ben Stiller interview with Howard Stern, was something that the Samuel Goldwyn Company long wanted to do. Stiller, as director, had a major role in casting. Stern asked Stiller if he had auditioned Kristen Wiig and Sean Penn. Of course he hadn't. There are certain actors one doesn't audition. One doesn't aution Olivier when casting.
The new version is a less innocent one in keeping with the 21st century, and its storyline is different from the 1947 version. Stiller's Mitty is still a daydreamer but his dreams revolve around a co-worker whom he admires. When both his and her jobs are threatened by downsizing, he stops fantasizing and becomes proactive in a real life adventure which leads him on a journey to the Himalayas to find the man [Sean Penn] who can save their jobs.
Each version of the story has things to recommend it to a movie audience. Our age has suffered a loss of innocence, reflected in the updated version in which the visual effects are engrossing but the Danny Kaye version remains Suzanne's favorite and perhaps in a sense mine as well.
Ah, Danny Kaye! They just don't make them as good anymore.
Did You Know?
Despite not having a final budget, Paramount scheduled a December 12, 2005 start date because their option on the remake rights was to end one week later; they would lose the rights if they did not start filming before December 20. However, Owen Wilson dropped out in October 2005 over creative differences. The Hollywood Reporter also speculated that Walter Mitty began to falter after Paramount failed to cast a female lead to star opposite Wilson. Scarlett Johansson had reportedly emerged as the front-runner after screen testing with Wilson earlier in October, but a deal was never signed with the actress. Paramount executives 'Brad Grey (I)' and Gail Berman decided to put Walter Mitty in turnaround in November 2005. Goldwyn found favor at Twentieth Century Fox and, in May 2007, it was announced that Mike Myers was attached to star in the title role. Jay Kogen was hired to write a new script that would be specifically tailored for Myers.
The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on November 3, 1947 with Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo reprising their film roles.
Quotes (2013): [from trailer] Cheryl: "Life is about courage and going into the unknown."
Goofs (1947): During the scene in the Mitty home's kitchen, after Rosalind van Hoorn has come in the middle of the night during a rain storm to ask for Walter's help, she removes her dress to dry it. As they are talking, Rosalind is shown putting her dress back on and buttoning it all the way to the neck. As the scene shifts and pans back, she is shown once again buttoning the top button of her dress.
Quotes (1947): Walter Mitty: "Here I am, lard face."
Recent Posts (2013):
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Listen to the original short story recording here! -
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