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The Inspector General (1949)  

Review: written 2007

Weak but pleasant thanks to Kaye

A weak but pleasant farce based on a play, there's really only one reason to watch this movie, and that is Danny Kaye. The man had a unique talent for making tongue twisting lyrics not only possible but intelligible. This movie is no exception, with a few witty songs, fewer still witty moments, and more than a soupcon of gurning along the way.

In terms of content, the style is light and frothy, with the satirical nature of Gogol's play on which the movie is based sweetened away almost in its entirety. Message filled farce has given way to Danny Kaye vehicle, often way over the top. That said, it does raise a smile with infectious humour. There are a few good lines.. "Oh, I love my family, but I'd give my six kids to get rid of my wife.", and the twisting of the original lyrics to a well known song.. "Drink to me only wi-ith thine eye-eyes / And I will drink with my nose!".

The Gypsy song is probably the highlight, as Kaye gets the crowd participation (zzzum - shtok shtok - hahaha ... watch the movie and you'll know what I am talking about..).

If you're a Danny Kaye fan then you'll likely enjoy, but if you don't care for his style this movie will certainly not win you over.

The DVD version I saw was particularly poor, with a very poor transfer of the original Technicolor. I assume this was the common public domain Eastmancolor 16mm transfer, rather than the superior 35mm Technicolour print which seems rare to find. The sound was also weak and scratchy. Danny Kaye needs larger than life colour and sound to match his larger than life comedy, and I suggest that if you have not seen it before or even want to relive the highlights, wait a bit longer to see if they will finally release a restored remastered version which would do the material better justice.

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