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  • Freely based on Nikolai Gogol's play , "The Inspector General" about a false Inspector who comes to examine a little corrupt town . It deals with an illiterate called Giorgi (Danny Kaye, able to tongue twist faster than anyone else) along with his boss (Walter Slezak) , both of whom are wandering and acting as medicine men into a provincial town wherein panic . Then Giorgi's detained for vagrancy charge but he's misidentified as a feared Inspector General who comes to check up on them and whom the corrupter town officers (the Mayor : Gene Lockhart married to Elsa Lanchaster and another officer played by Alan Hale) think is secretly moving in disguise . Later on , they make various bungled tryings to murder him . Meanwhile , Giorgi falls in love with a beautiful maid (Barbara Bates) who is serving to the Mayor.

    The film is a Danny Kaye recital , he sings , dances , stooges , makes acrobatics , tongue twister and puts faces and grimaces . It's a pretty amusing farce suggested by a play by the Russian writer Gogol with the master comedy actor and it displays much choreography and musical numbers . Sylvia Fine , Kaye's wife , is the lyricist , composer , besides associate producer and dialogs writer , and responsible for many of the best known musical routines and songs for her husband . The best gags are developed on the Charles Chaplin imitations when Kaye is having lunch ; the events in the crowded room with several hosts that seem Marx brothers sketches ; in addition , the comic numbers in the military training headquarter . Support cast is frankly good , such as Elsa Lanchester , Barbara Bates , Gene Lockhart , Alan Hale , Néstor Paiva and Rhys Williams , among others . The motion picture was well directed by Henry Koster . Picture is a Kaye vehicle , and many consider his best comedy , he's an authentic comedian and real farceur . If you like Kaye's crazy interpretation , you will most definitely enjoy this one .
  • Danny Kaye's films with Samuel Goldwyn established him as a leading movie comedian - singer from 1944 through the late 1940s. For a number of years after he continued his popularity without Goldwyn in films like "Knock on Wood", "The Court Jester" and "Merry Andrew". It is likely that "The Court Jester" is his best film, but "The Inspector General" is close to the top.

    Based on a 19th Century satiric play by Nicolai Gogol, Kaye plays Georgi, a decent fellow who works for the bullying Yakov (Walter Slezak). Yakov and Georgi travel around the countryside selling "Yakov's elixir" which is supposed to cure all kinds of illnesses (that Kaye sings in a tongue-twisting song by Sylvia Fine, his wife). But they are forced to flee when Georgi tries to stop an elderly woman from wasting her money on the elixir. Naturally Yakov is upset, and sends Georgi away until he learns to be crooked. Yakov has been using a fake official document signed by Napoleon as a come on in his sales pitch. Georgi is carrying it. He is arrested by the town constable (Alan Hale Sr.) for vagrancy, but the latter reads the letter. As the Mayor (Gene Lockhart) and his cohorts are awaiting (with dread) a visit by Napoleon's Inspector General to check their records (they have been feathering their nests), they think that Georgi is this Inspector General. When Yakov comes to town he quickly grasps the situation, and pretends he is the "Inspector's" servant. Slezak knows that there are real opportunities here.

    The funny thing is that Gogol's play is not quite like the film. First of all, Gogol was writing a critique of government corruption in the Russian Empire under Tsar Nicholas I (1825-1855). Gogol was a religious mystic and satirist (best recalled for his unfinished novel about serfdom, "Dead Souls", and his novellas "The Diary of a Madman" and "The Overcoat"). Normally Nicholas was a humorless despot, who hated intellectuals. But he liked THE INSPECTOR GENERAL, which attacked the worst aspects of Russian local government corruptions that the Tsar did want to see eradicated. Because he approved, the play was a great success, and became one of the few 19th Century plays that became part of the permanent world repertory.

    But Gogol's targets were Russian, not French. Napoleon is not a background figure in the play. The Inspector General (actually the title is "The Government Inspector" in Russian) is from the Tsar. They have heard rumors of the corrupt practices, and are checking them. Georgi's character is not such a well-intentioned type in the play as he is in the movie. He is as willing to feather his nest as Yakob is, and they prove to be a highly successful team.

    This is because the Mayor and his cohorts are quite willing to bribe their way out of the current investigation. This includes selling the Mayor's wife for sex, and paying out much in bribes and "gifts". And in the end, after "Georgi" and Yakob leave with their loot, the Mayor thinks he will be called to St. Petersburg for some really important post. But months later they hear of a letter circulating in the capital from "Georgi" boasting of how he fooled the Mayor and his cohorts. Then, just as things couldn't get worse, a servant announces the arrival of "a Government Inspector" to review the books. Everyone freezes in terror as the curtain falls.

    The film softens "Georgi's" character, leaving Yakov as the greedy one (although Slezak does redeem himself at the end). The Mayor and his cohorts (who do things like collecting for a church bell but pocketing the money themselves) do try to kill off the Inspector General - there is a funny sequence at a party where "Georgi" sings a song about "sing Gypsy, dance Gypsy", and keeps on just avoiding drinking his doctored drink during the song. Georgi's guardian angel protects him. He also meets Leza, a servant (Barbara Bates) and falls for her. He debates how to appear before her as a General - should he be elegant like an Englishman, arrogant like a Russian, or smart like a German. In some ways "Soliloquy for Three heads" may be the best of the numbers in the film.

    Although watered down from Gogol's stunning comic play, enough entertainment value remains in the film to make it worthwhile viewing, and a highpoint in appreciating Kaye's movie career.
  • A pleasant farce with a fine cast, "The Inspector General" gives Danny Kaye a chance to show off his many talents, and also tells a story that is quite humorous as long as you do not take it too seriously.

    Kaye plays Georgi, an illiterate traveling huckster who helps his boss Yakov (Walter Slezak) sell useless medicines to gullible peasants. (The sequence where they try to sell their "elixir" is one of the movie's best scenes.) Georgi visits a small town, where through a series of coincidences, he is mistaken by the town's leaders for the Inspector General, an important official with sweeping powers to punish and reform. Half of the town fawns on him, while the other half panics over what he will discover in his "inspection". Kaye just wants to leave town before they figure out who he really is, but plenty of complications arise that keep things going for quite a while.

    Kaye gets to sing, dance, and generally entertain the audience. The supporting cast is filled with fine character actors like Gene Lockhart, Elsa Lanchester, and Alan Hale, who add to the humor. Not a lot of big laughs, but a steady stream of good-natured comedy all the way through.

    This is an enjoyable movie recommended for anyone who likes musical comedy.
  • I loved it as a kid and i love it even more now. This is a classic movie about mistaken identity, which inspired so many later movies. A tramp (Danny Kaye) is mistaken for the Inspector General by the corrupt mayor and his equally corrupt officials.

    I find Danny Kaye one of the best performers of our times and he has given one of his best performances here. Look at him rolling like a dog (a scene so touching) or imitating a fish in the beginning or singing 'drink gypsy' later on. An institution in himself. The movie can be hilarious, very touching, delightful and thrilling at the same time. It's a treasure.
  • Hysterical. Danny Kaye is a comedy genius.

    The Gypsy song was the best part of the film. (Zummm-shtok-shtok-hahaha) This is worth a look for this scene alone. It was fun watching the crowd get into it. I'd guess that scene was mostly ad-libbed. He clearly was in control. I bought the DVD (public domain) just for that scene.

    The supporting cast did a great job too. Slezak nearly stole all of his scenes and Hale Sr. was perfect in support. And the costume designer deserved at least a nomination for the Oscar.

    You can't take this one seriously. But then Danny Kaye lived to entertain. And few did it better.
  • AndiCheetah9927 December 2005
    Warning: Spoilers
    Danny Kaye is absolutely phenomenal in this movie! Be it the silly patter songs, slapstick at its purest, his quick timing, his wide-eyed innocent reactions to the corruption of the councilmen, or his heartwarming moments of honesty and warmth. He will send kids and adults alike into fits of laughter with his antics, and makes a lovable and memorable figure out of what could have been a very dry character. It seems as though the director took Gogol's character and rewrote it specifically for Danny Kaye, a common practice in those days.

    But Kaye is not the only one in the movie that shines. The other characters may serve as foils to Georgi, but they in themselves are funny. Maria's constant overtures to Georgi, the poor councilman that is trying to resign but no one will let him, poor Kovatch who can't seem to hang onto a uniform, the twins who are constantly confusing Georgi, and especially wily Yakov. Yakov in himself is a great character, because he is a villain but in his despicably you can't help but admire his clever ways of keeping Georgi from getting caught. The obligatory love story is weak, yes, but in this case it is a good thing, because the real humor resides in this classic tale of mistaken identity, not in the love story. I rate this a nine out of ten because I really feel that the love story was unnecessary, although the love story does lend itself to a lovely song, true.

    Above all, this is Danny Kaye truly living up to his reputation as a superstar of his era, almost like the Chaplin of his time, only better since most of his talent shows in the patter songs and lines. He is supported by strong actors, and overall it makes a wonderful, classic film for the entire family.
  • I'm disappointed that I've only been able to come across poor Public Domain prints of THE INSPECTOR GENERAL which I believe looked much better originally than the washed out prints currently circulating. The Technicolor looks less than vibrant, but DANNY KAYE is the main reason for watching this anyway. He gets to do his thing in a variety of songs, the outstanding one being "The Gypsy Drinking Song", another "Happy Times" penned by Sylvia Fine.

    He has the benefit here of excellent support from WALTER SLEZAK (a fake healer who, with Kaye, is a traveling salesman of his phony elixir), GENE LOCKHART (as a corrupt mayor), ALAN HALE, and especially ELSA LANCHESTER as the flirtatious woman who wants to run off with Kaye under the perception that he's The Inspector General. It's the usual crazy identity mix-up that has all the villagers thinking Kaye is the man about to expose corruption of the town's leaders.

    Kaye does all his usual song patters and double takes and mugging with his usual zest and skill and the vehicle is clearly tailor-made for his talent. True, it's overly silly at times and some of the routines are less than witty, but he's still fun to watch as he dodges the poisoned drink and swaggers through his impersonation while really trying to escape the clutches of the law.

    Best watched if you can find a good print--entertaining fluff with Kaye and Slezak obviously enjoying themselves.
  • Watching this was enjoyable. The movie started off somewhat slowly, and took its time picking up the pace. However, the pace quickly picked up speed when Danny Kaye came on screen. This is partly because his partner shows up at the same time. Walter Slezak does a fantastic job of contrasting Kaye throughout the movie, but more of that later.

    Danny Kaye's performance here is not quite as seamless as many. He does not seem to have the same audacity he displays in later movies, such as The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Court Jester. It is also different in that, although it includes the usual confusion, plot twists, and multiplicity of plans going on at once, these elements are not executed as beautifully as in, for example, The Court Jester. Thus these scenes become comedic background, still enjoyable to watch, but not the masterpiece one may have become accustomed to. However, the movie was far from terrible. There were moments which, as I watched them, made me think, "That's so Danny Kaye." He has many of the same mannerisms and little twitches that make him so much fun to watch, along with an array of songs that would tie a normal tongue in knots. He looks quite dashing in his military uniform, and his character's innocence is just so much fun to see in Danny Kaye's brilliant blue eyes.

    His character (Georgi) is also contrasted masterfully with Slezak's (Yakov), making this movie a success. Yakov is so mean to poor Georgi (as well as everyone else) that the viewer simply must fall in love with the poor boy. Kaye plays a young man, very nearly a boy, while Yakov is so jaded and immoral. It is Yakov's cruelty to Georgi that endears Kaye's character to the viewer.

    To sum up, The Inspector General is a lighthearted movie involving superb writing, excellent juxtaposition, and a wonderful star and supporting villain.
  • This is a movie! Danny Kaye is one of the lost gems. His movies are almost all classics. Whatever they lacked on the drawing board, he added to. This one was a classic story line guaranteed to be great. Some scripts are just great. "Arsenic and Old Lace", "The Front Page", movies like these are destined to be entertaining no matter how badly done. When done well, they are spectacular and spectacular! Kaye is a poor slob who thinks he is going to be hanged by a corrupt town, but then events take place which I won't spoil in this review. Trust me, you won't stop laughing. The voting for this movie indicates men like it slightly more than women. Danny Kaye was a man's man, and his heroines were always men's women, the kind so perfectly beautiful that female viewers can't help but get jealous. Female viewers like the plain Jane as female leads, like in the movies of the last twenty years. In this movie, the lead female is one of the most gorgeous you'll ever see. Kaye always managed to get paired with the most beautiful girl in the show. Then there's Danny Kaye's pure talent. He sings not only with talent, but with affection and timing. Perfect comic genius makes him a delight to watch. And the rest of the cast is splendid. Not just one of the best comedies, but one of the best movies of all time.
  • An illiterate stooge in a traveling medicine show wanders into a strange town and is picked up on a vagrancy charge. The town's corrupt officials mistake him for the inspector general whom they think is traveling in disguise. Fearing he will discover they've been pocketing tax money, they make several bungled attempts to kill him.

    Unfortunately, this film is in the public domain and that means that Alpha Video seems to be the primary supplier. Maybe another version exists, but I saw the Alpha one. While it's not as bad as many public domain films, it has clearly aged and a new transfer would benefit the film greatly.

    This film stands out as being a wonderful showcase for Danny Kaye. His best-known films (like "White Christmas") seem to have him more often as the sidekick. This film proves he can be a leading man in his own right, with plenty of humorous acting and some incredible singing. Kaye should be recognized as a bigger star than Bing Crosby.
  • Danny Kaye was a wonderful performer, he would sing, dance, tell jokes, turn his face into rubber and just generally come off as a quality humanitarian. The Inspector General showcases all of those talents.

    Directed by Henry Koster, The Inspector General is loosely adapted from Nikolai Gogol's classic Russian story, and it finds Kaye as a stooge of Walter Slezak's iffy tonic peddler who is mistaken by iffy officials of a small Russian town for the much feared and respected Inspector General. Cue mistaken identity mayhem as the music numbers, gags, visual contortions and all round slapstick ensues. Also along for the ride are Elsa Lanchester, Alan Hale, Barbara Bates and Gene Lockhart.

    It's more a safe and solid Kaye movie for the family to enjoy, rather than a high end classic like The Court Jester, but sometimes the high energy jinks of Kaye is all you need to lift the blues away. 7/10
  • xenophil8 February 1999
    This is a nice little bit of fluff. It has more Gogol in it than you might expect. It's not really tha-a-at good, but I gave it a 7 because it's *completely* harmless, and really, Danny Kaye is so lively and charming, and so few actors have that quality of total innocence. He looks quite handsome in the officer's fancy uniform (until he starts making with the funny faces). A good one for kids.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** Before you read this I want to tell you that I hope my English is good because I am Dutch. The Inspector General is one of those real Danny Kaye movies. I think that most of the youngsters of this time don't know him or haven't ever heard of him, that thought makes me sad, because I am 15 and he is my idol. Danny Kaye, what can I say about this great man. In this movie he shows great acting, singing and dancing. He accidentally becomes the inspector-general of a town called Brodny. Before this he sold special drinks with Yacov a gipsy (Walter Slezak) that should crack you up but it is actually poisoned. The mayor and his men want Georgi(Danny Kaye) dead so that they can climb to higher places. Georgi met a girl named Leza(Barbara Bates) who worked as a kind of a maid in the house of the inspector-general. First she didn't really like him but when he began to sing a wonderful song to her(Happy Times), she was already starting to love him. Meanwhile Georgi is concerned about how he should handle with this confusing situation. He can't believe he is the inspector-general. A lot of humour follows. At last the real inspector-general turns back to Brodny from a visit to the emperor (I thought) and soon Georgi and Yacov, who gave Georgi 'advice'(he wanted him actually dead so that he could get a lot of money from the townleaders)are caught and would soon be hanged. The real inspector-general and his men come to the jail to take Georgi and Yacov outside to kill them. Yacov made it to steal the papers of the inspector-general and gave them to Georgi so that all the people think again that he is the inspector-general, but Georgi admits he isn't the inspector-general and admits that he can't even read or write. The real inspector-general appreciates this so much he let them go and makes Georgi mayor and Yacov a very high soldier. So this story knows a happy end. The songs: Hail to Brodny, Happy Times, Yacov's Elixer, Arrogant, Elegant, Smart and the Gipsy Drinking Song touched me very much and are of course written by Sylvia Fine. A great movie with a very good cast.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Inspector-General(1949) remains an irrepressible children's classic and a scrumptious fairytale musical. It's a cinematic adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's ascerbic 1842 satire of Russian feudal society, and is so definitive that it's never been remade. Naturally, mores have moved on (blunt brutality and gallows humour are no longer funny) but its "datedness" is mostly just requisite atavism.

    The carnival musicians (who may have invented modern beat-boxing(!)) are a standout, especially their lackadaisical "Hey" guy. Their comical Gypsy music conveys the story's shrewd/wily cynicism and serves to skewer provincialism as Gogol intended.

    Transposing the setting to Hungary introduces newer audiences to the story of an illiterate carnival entertainer mistaken for the Emperor's emissary--although referencing Napoleon gets problematic.

    The Mayor of Klimenti (Nestor Paiva of Zorro serials fame, d.1966) kick-starts the plot, riding madly into his cousin's town of Brodny. "I must go; even now he (the Inspector-General) may be here, in your midst", he blurts breathlessly amidst gulps of brandy. You almost feel sorry for him--until you see WHY his cape bulges. His "Cousin Biro"(Gene Lockhart) ("biro" in Hungarian means "judge") is in no less trouble--the Inspector-General's incognito technique would trap Brodny's Mayor just the same.

    Director Henry Koster's genius is in revealing Brodny as only seemingly less corrupt: its apparent civil order (repressed obedience) is exacted through institutionalised, class-based petty violence. When Biro brutally slaps Kovacs, the Captain of Police(Alan Hale), Koster has this start an unforgettable domino-chain of slaps down all the way to livestock.

    This prologue, then, impels the police to fan out patrolling all roads to Brodny and coming upon Yakov Goury's travelling Gypsy show. Georgi(Kaye) is its talented but naïve ("Maybe I can't read or write, but I'm not illiterate!") and pointedly illiterate headliner flogging the snake-oil. Kaye is cute, if silly, twitching ears on cue. Since 1940 his verbal gymnastics were created by his equally talented wife, Associate Producer Sylvia Fine.

    One fleece-show act calls for a sickly young man with a prescription for "Rix-zz-jel-knoobtz-f-f-ss-ch-ch-enn-zelminheltzigner......-Twice a day". Kaye's warm delivery conveys perfectly that doctors haven't written legibly.....ever. This "prescription" turns out to be "Yakov's Golden Elixir". A hapless innocent, Georgi's main problem (apart from being illiterate) is that he has a conscience--a right nuisance for a con-man. His ruthless, "dog-eat-dog world" boss Yakov(Walter Slezak, seemingly born into the role) is instead a shifty chameleon who can actually read.

    Undermined by Georgi's conscience for the last time, Yakov brutally rejects his frontman after the locals riot. Homeless, hungry (Yakov confiscated the one fish he "caught") and with holes in his boots, Georgi takes to the road. (Note: The rider who overtakes him is rearranged footage--it no longer makes sense as Gregor, mid-flight to Brodny.) Although this adaptation still captures Gogol's wily logic, there are (another) two on screen elements that don't jibe: 1. Georgi's tearing the Emperor's "testimonial" in half to pad his shoe. Despite needing padding, he throws one half away! This "cause" of his later mistaken identity beggars belief.

    2. Another is the substitution of Napoleon for the Emperor, when Gogol was famously scathing of Tsar Nicholas' Russian Empire. Presumably the Hungarian relocation and name-changes also account for this bizarre 1949 American oversensitivity to Tsarist Russia!

    The point of Gogol's shrewd observation was that "authority" resides in the eyes of (corrupt) beholders; and so the Brodny officials quickly jump to conclusions of "Why not a tramp"?

    Georgi's prison stay proves fateful, as he hysterically waves his boot at his captors, dislodging the remaining half of Yakov's forgery. Alan Hale has a wonderful bit goggling at the fake testimonial: ".....continue in this fine work to rid our land of the many evils that plague it.....Napoleon".

    Gene Lockhart embodies the Mayor with suitably high-strung, twitching pique. He's at the epicentre of his annoying relatives' idiosynchracies, who fill all the public service jobs; the problem with nepotism being that he can never get away from them! The running gag with the twin postmasters (real twins Sam and Lew Hearn) just compounds the Mayor's hilariously put-upon paternalism.

    Meanwhile, our genteel coward's three-day starvation had set up several plot devices: his encounter with the foul soldiers ensures the confusion of the robbery ("Hey! I'm innocent--ask the horse!"); and Georgi's outraged cries about informing the Emperor now sound vaguely plausible. However, the classic food-hoarding scene exists just for laughs: the payoff to his overeating is the gag about what he's offered to counteract his indigestion.

    Once the Brodny officials "discover" and attire him (repeatedly) in poor Kovacs' uniform, he's fawned over by everyone--including the Mayor's hilariously vapid wife Maria(Elsa Lanchester, never better). He's a hit singing the Golden-Globe-winning Gypsy_Drinking_Song, and rounding: "....Now dis graop here, I vill make for you, shtok-shtok.....Very pret-yie, I laove you to pieces".

    Incongruous Russian accent notwithstanding, his biggest test turns up in the guise of a long-lost, snow-blind, dotty old general. Luckily, no-one except his resurfaced partner Yakov knows he's a fake, and it's Yakov who presses him into service as the Inspector-General (to blackmail the corrupt officials). Suddenly Georgi must discover how to really act the part. Afraid that "a tear in the eye is worth two in the bush", he ponders "Whose head will they jerk, whose block will they knock off?" He even tries to "resign" in a touching letter to Yakov, but he's so popular, having captured Brodny's hopes for justice, that the officials get desperate to be rid of him--by any means necessary. One memorable scene has even Kovacs resorting to bribery, squirming in a roomful of secreted officials: "You see, my wife isn't a contended woman.....oh, I love my family but I'd give my six kids to get rid of my wife"! The clichéd church-organ subplot remains underdeveloped, becoming annoying, and telegraphing that, well, we've seen the best already. From then it's just a rush to a fairytale ending.

    Merely second-best of Danny Kaye movies; see The Court Jester(1956).
  • Danny Kaye steals the show as 'Georgi' in this Gogol comedy set somewhere in eastern Europe at some time in the 19th century that spoofs the gullibility of the masses and the venality of rulers. Kaye plays an illiterate toady of a medicine-show operator who is confused with the Emperor's "Inspector General" who is charged with the duty to root out all corruption in any village to which he is sent. The venal mayor and his coterie of dishonest city bosses are scared out of their wits as they seek to cover up their corruption from the all-knowing imperial emissary. Corrupt as they are, and scared of the consequences of being exposed, they expose Georgi (Kaye) to every peril possible -- including having to drink some of "Yakov's Golden elixir" that his boss Yakov (Walter Slezak) vends to unsuspecting suckers. He survives every danger, including bad advice from those who exploit his illiteracy.

    There's much grimness in the humor, so it's not for everyone, including several references to executions -- and some about the jail. One memorable line is from one of the crooked city bosses (sorry, not an exact quote):

    "They'll send us to the firing squad!"

    followed by:

    "Don't worry. I own the factory that makes the guns."

    If you can put up with such jests, then you will like this movie. Beware, though: it is not for children.
  • Movies, and TV of today lack a lot of things to make them good clean fun and family entertainment, but old movies such as this have it in spades. The entire movie ends up being an object lesson in honesty and I for one applaud these types of shows. Danny Kaye brings an innocence and energy to keep this movie going through the parts that try and bog the story line down I recommend this to for all ages although those under 10 may have a difficult time understanding parts of this film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It's a little difficult to grasp the notion of Danny Kaye, one of his era's premier farceurs, being the lead in a story from the 1840s by a Russian dramatist. We all know those Russian plays had more clouds of gray than any song by George Gershwin could guarantee. But, though I haven't read Gogol's story, he was one of those gloomy Russkies who happened to have a sense of humor, sarcastic and cynical though it might have been.

    It's the Napoleonic era in Middle Europe. Every town in the regime is corrupt in varying degrees and Napoleon has sent an Inspector General to clean things up. The Inspector General has Napoleon's power of attorney. He generally enters a town in some humble disguise -- a tinker, a salesman, an utter nobody -- then snoops around until he uncovers the miscreants, who he then promptly hangs. Nobody knows what he looks like.

    Kaye is a shill for a snake oil salesman, Walter Slezak in the most outrageously villainous bad-guy make up since Mack Swain, Chaplin's gorilla. When Kaye tries to stop an old lady from spending all her money on Slezak's cure-all to save her dying husband -- it's really furniture polish -- Slezak overhears the conversation and kicks Kaye out.

    Kaye then turns into a starving tramp. He wanders from town to town, trying to steal bits of food from dogs. But in the village of Brodny, misleading evidence comes to light that he is the Inspector General in disguise. So instead of being hanged for a thief, he's feted by the terrified corrupt town officials. He spends most of the movie strutting around in resplendent garb, trying to imitate a self-possessed pal of Napoleon or, alternatively, trying desperately to have his real identity hidden from the public. This spoiled identity becomes especially problematic after Slezak shows up, recognizes him for the buffoon he is, and manipulates him to extort bribes from the officials.

    Kaye handles the role pretty well, actually, as unlikely as it sounds. Well, why not? So it's a farce. I doubt that Gogol's original play had the fake Inspector General singing gibberish songs, but somehow it fits. Kaye's usual cowardly and neurotic persona is imposed on what I imagine to have been an amusing but relatively grounded story. If W. C. Fields could play Mr. Micawber in Charles Dickens' "David Copperfield", why not Kaye as a jiggling and stuttering Inspector General? The plot is too logical to allow for many of Kaye's set pieces. The gibberish songs (by his then-wife, Sylvia Fine) aren't as funny as some of his earlier ones. The gags, though muted, are imposed on a narrative that is funny in itself and this makes up, to some extent, for our watching a Danny Kaye who is in harness to the plot.

    There isn't as much mindless sentiment as there were in some of Kaye's lesser vehicles -- no sick children or any of that crap. Barbara Bates as the housemaid is Kaye's love interest, such as it is. Bates, an exquisite young woman of modest talent, was the underhanded high-school girl Phoebe who shows up at the end of "All About Eve." Here, in period wardrobe, she's just another pretty face, but it doesn't matter because her part isn't particularly important.

    Anyway, I kind of enjoyed it. Kaye does a lot of jumping around and shuffling of objects and there are some laughs in it, desperately needed in these too-laughless times.
  • My wife and I tried 3 times to watch this movie. Even though we are Danny Kaye's devoted fans from his classic 'The Court Jester' he is most poorly directed in this movie. The lines are cheesy, the acting is bad, and the so called humor in this dated movie feels tacky, amateurish, and completely overacted. Such poor video editing and so many cartoonish sound effects are put to try to draw a laugh it is almost an insult to the viewer's intelligence. I cannot seem to like or care for one single character, and there are many I hate. Some songs were much too long and unnecessary. Danny Kaye appears like only a shadow of his own self. It is a pity to see such great talent wasted.
  • "Danny Kaye stars in this musical comedy about a case of mistaken identity and the poor fool caught in the middle of it. Georgi (Kaye) is an illiterate member of a traveling medicine show who is mistaken by a small Russian village as the Inspector General, a royal official with vast powers. While the local government officials plot to bribe or kill him, Georgi ingrains himself into the public's favor all the while trying to find a way out of his situation," according to the DVD sleeve description.

    Mr. Kaye's films usually fall into one of two categories - they can either be enjoyed by almost everyone in the average film-going public, or they mainly appeal to those already inclined to admire Kaye. The latter films will sometimes show the strains of a story "showcase" vehicle, while the more universally appealing films feature Kaye using his skills to more naturally essay a character. "The Inspector General" is a good example of the latter. Many of the gags fall flat, and the plot is laboriously adapted from the satirical Russian classic.

    Look for impressive Ida Moore in a great bit as the old "mother" Kaye wards off his potion.

    ***** The Inspector General (12/30/49) Henry Koster ~ Danny Kaye, Walter Slezak, Elsa Lanchester, Gene Lockhart
  • It is easy to see that this film was intended to be more of a vehicle for Danny Kaye's comedy antics than a fully developed and deep farce, but even so it is entertaining to watch, with some good tunes and a fair amount of funny moments to be had. It is awfully silly at times, with over-the-top jokes and various excesses, but it makes pretty good viewing in general. Well-used sound effects plus apt costumes and sets help enhance the experience too. It takes a while to warm up, and some of the time old elements are thrown in to not much avail, such as a typical love subplot, but if one is to take the film lightheartedly it is quite amusing, even if some of Kaye's skits go a bit overboard.
  • arfdawg-123 May 2014
    I know this film has gotten mostly good reviews.

    I will admit it is entertaining.

    But I also have to say I'm not a big fan of the borscht belt style of overacting and Danny Kaye who started in the Poconos takes mugging to a new level.

    For me it brought the movie down, but I know everyone's tastes are different.

    It's a well made movie and has a bunch of songs. It will keep you interested if there's nothing else available. But these days there's tons of stuff available.

    The Plot An illiterate stooge in a traveling medicine show wanders into a strange town and is picked up on a vagrancy charge. The town's corrupt officials mistake him for the inspector general whom they think is traveling in disguise. Fearing he will discover they've been pocketing tax money, they make several bungled attempts to kill him.
  • Very hilarious movie, very well crafted idea, near prefect screenplay, anyway everything is fabulous, perhaps the unique sin was let Danny Kaye sings along the movie, he is awful as singer and outrageous funny as comedian and the smart, in other hand Walter Slezak is amazing as cheater fulfilling as character, also Gene Lockhart did not unnoticed, the remaining cast is colorful, every single character has a fine and funny scene in this good picture....if Danny Kaye didn't has to sing!!


    First watch: 1998 / How many: 3 / Source: Cable-TV-DVD / Rating: 7.5
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I had just finished reading the play by the Ukranian playwright Nicolae Gogol and I decided that I would have a look through Youtube to find out if somebody had uploaded a performance but what my search ended up throwing up me was, well, this movie (and I believe that it may be public domain since it is up of Youtube, and if a movie is not public domain, or not allowed on Youtube then I suspect that it will be pulled down pretty quickly). The play is about how a group of corrupt officials on a small Russian town in the 19th century hear that somebody is coming from St Petersburg (the then Russian capital) to perform a audit on the town's accounts, so they end up rushing about in a panic to try and cover up their nefarious deeds. Then enters a lowly clerk on a holiday and they immediately believe that he is the auditor and go out of their way to soften him up and offer him bribes.

    The movie differs from a play a little (and is a little be more slapstick, but then again I have not seen it performed so I cannot comment on that aspect of it) in that the clerk is replaced by an out of work con-man (because he does not like deceiving people) and the play has a much happier ending. In fact the clerk in this film is a much more honest individual than the original in the play (who scampers out of town quick fast when he is discovered). Also, the clerk (for want of a better word because in the movie he is actually homeless and destitute and wonders into the town having not eaten for two days).

    The movie is also set in some vague European Village in some vague empire because at one point it is suggested that the Emperor if Napoleon, and at another point it is said that the capital city is Budapest (which is a huge continuity error because Budapest was never the main capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and Napoleon never had his capital in Budapest (he was French, so it was always going to be Paris). However, putting aside that minor problem, and the fact that the main character is much, much nicer in this movie than in the play, it is still a pretty good rendition, and enjoyable to watch.
  • Danny Kaye's musical comedy isn't something that has aged all that well. Back in the 40s and 50s, he was VERY popular and his films packed the theaters. However, I really believe that his style is something that will have a very mixed reaction today. Some, of course, probably still love Kaye and adore his antics and musical routines. And, others, like myself, will find him tedious. When he sings and makes his silly grimaces, it pains me--which is a shame, as the plot itself of "The Inspector General" is actually pretty good.

    Danny plays Georgi--a poor and slightly crooked man. He assists in a patent medicine show run by a seriously crooked guy (Walter Slezak). When he loses this job, he's very hungry and manages to get arrested--but not a meal. However, when the townspeople mistakenly believe that he's the Inspector General in disguise, suddenly they begin lavishing him with praise and gifts. But, the mayor and his officers know that they must do something else--they must kill the Inspector General to keep their thieving ways a secret. This isn't a problem for Kaye, as he's about to run out of town as soon as humanly possible--but he can't when his old boss shows up and insists that Kaye stay and milk the town for all it's worth.

    If the film was a bit more subtle, I would have loved it. It did have a lot of clever moments--but it also had Kaye hamming it up something awful at times as well. Overall, a mixed bag--worth seeing but lacking at the same time.
  • I saw this for the first time ever on Amazon Prime recently and was not disappointed. Danny was really the whole package - a lovely singing voice and great dance moves, not to mention a wacky sense of humour. The plot is pretty lightweight, but it doesn't matter as Danny shines throughout the film and you end up smiling. In terms of the rest of the cast, they're all great. Ultimately, the key message of the film is that it pays to be honest. In terms of Kaye's background (Ukranian ancestry), I'm sure this whole script would have been of special significance to him. Really enjoyable.
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