25 October 2015 | SimonJack
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Danny Kaye is loose again – this time in a 1961 farce about espionage in World War II. The film is set in England and Berlin, and Kaye has another double role. All of his films are very good, and he may have made more movies than any other actor in which the lead actor plays two characters. His "Wonder Man" of 1945, "On the Riviera" of 1951, and "Knock on Wood" of 1954 were excellent movies. "On the Double" isn't quite at the level of those films, but it's a very good movie as well.
Kaye plays Pfc. Ernie Williams, and doubles as General Lord MacKenzie-Smith, the fictitious planner of the D-Day invasion. Dana Wynter is very good as Lady Margaret, the general's wife. Wilfrid Hyde-White is very good, and very funny, as Colonel Somerset, the head of British intelligence. The rest of the cast are very good as well. Margaret Rutherford is hilarious as Lady Vivian, and Diana Dors excels as Sgt. Bridget Stanhope.
"On the Double" is another showcase for the multi-talented Kaye. But Danny doesn't use as many of his talents in this film. He doesn't sing or dance. He doesn't do any tongue twisters (no one could do them better), nor did he have any acrobatic antics. He does a song impersonation of a female singer, but mostly we see him with some impersonations and numerous disguise attempts with costume changes. His attempts to speak German while in various disguises are hilarious. One can only guess what a German would think when confronted by Kaye with his Deutsch mumbo-jumbo.
Kaye was 50 years old when he made this film, and he clearly was slowing down with some of his acrobatic routines and dancing. No doubt his talented wife, Sylvia Fine, was scaling back the routines and numbers she wrote and coordinated for him. Two years after this film, Danny had his own TV variety show on CBS. He did more than 120 live shows from the fall of 1963 to the spring of 1967.
After his TV show, Kaye made only one more major film, "Skokie" in 1981 that was a serious drama. He did some voices for animated films, appeared on other TV programs, and made a Broadway musical in 1970. But, he essentially retired from acting by age 60. Some film buffs regarded his bowing out due to lack of appeal. Well, when one nears age 60, one slows down and can no longer do the things that were part of a career of song and dance and fast-paced comedy and acrobatic performances. But, Kaye didn't stop performing. He became "the" ambassador for UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund. He traveled around the world for UNICEF and often wound up entertaining groups of children in some way. Kaye was a special guest of UNICEF when it received the 1965 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. And, he starred in a theatrical event with Norwegian performers to raise funds to match the Nobel Prize money. That was 50 years ago when UNICEF and the United Nations thought "investing in children is investing in peace and a better future."
"On the Double" is a film that the whole family can enjoy.