If there's one movie Danny Kaye fans fondly remember, it's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The versatile comedian--also an unsurpassed song-and-dance man--plays a henpecked, thriller-genre book writer suddenly enmeshed in a real adventure involving the (literal) girl of his dreams (Virginia Mayo). Initially criticized for not staying true to the more melancholic sensibility of author James Thurber's original story (Thurber allegedly offered producer Samuel Goldwyn $10,000 to not make the film), it not only works as an independent story, but remains highly entertaining and wears well upon repeated viewing. Kaye's milquetoast Walter fantasizes distractedly about being heroic, whether a gunslinger, an Air Force pilot, or a riverboat gambler. His "Anatole of Paris" number, in which Walter fancies himself a French hat designer who, in the end, declares he hates women, is nothing short of brilliant. That number, like many of Kaye's trademark patter deliveries, was penned by his wife, Sylvia Fine. Kaye benefits from a wonderful supporting cast: Mayo; Boris Karloff as maniacal Dr. Hugo Hollingshead; Faye Bainter as Walter's repressive but lively mother; Ann Rutherford as his suspicious fiancée Gertrude; and Gordon Jones as Tubby, who not only has designs on Gertrude, but provides the villain in Walter's fantasies. --N.F. Mendoza
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