26 February 2013 | bkoganbing
They call him the dreamer
James Thurber's whimsical day dreamer Walter Mitty was a perfect character for Danny Kaye to apply his many talents with. Make note however this is not film based on Thurber's short story, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, but the character is used to fashion a plot whereby this day dream believer gets into a real life adventure. And gets the girl one only dreams about.
Poor henpecked Danny Kaye as Mitty works as a proofreader for publisher Thurston Hall who specializes in putting out pulp fiction works of adventure and romance. He's put upon by everyone, from his mother Fay Bainter to his girlfriend Ann Rutherford, her mother Florence Bates, his best 'friend' Gordon Jones and not the least by his boss Hall. His escape is in daydreaming and it's in these imaginary sequences that Kaye's real talents of singing and mimicry are given full range. During one of those sequences while at a fashion show Kaye does one of his most famous routines Anatole Of Paris.
While on a train Kaye meets the beautiful girl of his dreams Virginia Mayo who is carrying some documents vital to her native Dutch government. And she's being pursued by the kind of international criminals that appear in James Bond or Austin Powers. Konstantin Shayne is the master criminal known only as 'the Boot' and he's assisted in his nefarious schemes by Boris Karloff.
After he meets them poor Danny spends the rest of the film trying to help or rescue Virginia Mayo and convince the others in his life that he's in a real situation. The rest of his circle put his ravings down to an overactive imagination and he's even referred to a psychiatrist who turns out to be Boris Karloff. I'm not sure who was playing straight for who in the psychiatrist sequence, but it's funny nonetheless.
It's not James Thurber. Thurber's story would be almost impossible to create accurately for the screen since it's all in his protagonist's mind. But as a character for Danny Kaye, Walter Mitty is a natural.