Hans Christian Andersen (1952)

Golden Globe Awards

Danny was nominated for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy.
The movie was nominated for Best Picture in a Musical/Comedy.

Academy Awards

6 nominations in the following categories: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color; Best Cinematography, Color; Best Costume Design, Color; Best Music, Original Song (“Thumbelina”); Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture; Best Sound, Recording.

Hans Christian Andersen
is generally seen as one of Danny's most popular movies. According to Kurt Singer's The Danny Kaye Story, most of the reviews for this movie were excellent, except for the "more important and intellectual magazines," which "pointed out the fallacies of the film." (pg 193) This film, though it comes across as a biographical film about the storyteller, is only -- as it says at the beginning of the film -- "a fairy-tale about this great spinner of fairy-tales." The Danes and some of the more intellectual reviews disliked the notion of distorting the truth about Andersen's life. Singer included a portion of a review from the Saturday Review: "Without any clowning to do, Danny Kaye is simply not very interesting, and it's hard to get worked up over his encounter with a ballet dancer in Copenhagen and his rather foolish mooning about her. The movie's neither truth, good fiction nor a good fairy-tale." (The Danny Kaye Story pg 193) Despite the reviews, this is one of the movies for which Danny is most remembered, and many audiences fell in love with the songs. I have to admit, however, that while many of Danny's fans may love this movie, it is not one of my favorites. In fact, this may be my least favorite of Danny's movies. I enjoy the songs, and the relationship between Hans Christian Andersen and his teenage apprentice, Peter. My dislike has nothing to do with Danny's performance. He does the role extremely well and is brilliant with the children, as he usually was. Rather, I'm not extremely impressed with the script. It was meant to be a straight role for Danny, and it is; but there isn't a whole lot of drama or action. It feels rather bland to me. Perhaps I've been used to the more intense movies of today. Whatever the case may be, the songs are wonderful and Danny's performance with the children is adorable.

Film Information

Filmed: Jan. 21 - May 26, 1952

Released: Dec. 19, 1952
(Koenig, David.
Danny Kaye: King of Jesters, pg 141)

Originally the Danish Foreign Office protested the idea of an American comic portraying the role of Denmark’s National Hero. (October 1952)

They protested not only to Samuel Goldwyn but to the State Department of Washington. (The Danny Kaye Story pg 190)

They charged that the biographical storyline was completely distorted, containing many errors and inaccuracies, and not following in the taste of Danish culture. Goldwyn got around this by adding a statement to the beginning of the movie: “Once upon a time there lived in Denmark a great story-teller named Hans Christian Andersen. This is not the story of his life, but a fairy-tale about this great spinner of fairy-tales.” (The Danny Kaye Story, pg 190-91)

Their views changed a little when some “prominent Danish-Americans viewed the rushes of the film” and discovered that Danny was playing the role straight with none of his typical comedy. (October 1952)

Moss Hart wrote the script for Hans Christian Andersen. Danny originally worked with Moss Hart in the Broadway production of Lady in the Dark. In fact, it was Moss Hart who had seen him at the nightclub, La Martinique, and signed him on for the Broadway  production. (The Danny Kaye Story pg 189)

“The beauty of the songs composed by Frank, Loesser caused recordings of the movie’s lyrics to sell better than any other of the Kaye albums either before or after.” (The Danny Kaye Story pg 190)

“The year the tune ‘Copenhagen’ was released, tourism in Denmark increased fifty per cent.” (The Danny Kaye Story pg 193)

Screencaps          Favorite Scene / Summary of the Movie          Newspaper Reviews          

Movie Trivia


“Danny Kaye is Frustrated Surgeon” - interview with Danny about his antics in Denmark, Hans Christian Andersen and medicine; Oct. 1952

“Hollywood Film Shop” - article about the finances for Hans Christian Andersen; Aug. 1952

“Danes Change Mind on Film Squabble” - brief article about Denmark’s revised stance on Hans Christian Andersen; April 1952

- Home -