Merry Andrew (1958)

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In Kurt Singer's The Danny Kaye Story, he explains, "After the critical reviews of The Court Jester in 1955 it took Danny three years to muster up courage to do another picture. Unfortunately MGM's Merry Andrew turned out to be a very unfunny tale about a mild professor who joins the circus." (pg 200) I'm not sure if this was Kurt Singer's opinion, Danny's opinion, or that of the drama critics. Obviously Merry Andrew didn't do that great. Danny rarely talked about it, and it's not a well-remembered film at all. However, the reviews that I have dug up so far seem to be positive, not only about Danny but about the movie as well.

As for me, I found it an amusing, enjoyable movie. Danny was adorably sweet as this innocent, mild-mannered professor who finds himself caught up in the circus and falling in love with a circus girl, something his staunch father would surely disapprove of. Pier Angeli is adorably sweet as the circus girl, Selena. The others do fine. The plot is an interesting one, and the songs are good. The one that is highly catchy is "Everything is Tickety-Boo." There are a few things that stood out to me in this film. First, we find out that Danny could juggle. I don't know if he could juggle before this movie, or if he learned it specifically for this role. But the fact remains--he juggles in this movie and does really well. The other thing that impressed me was the "pulling the tablecloth off the table" trick. You know the one...someone yanks a tablecloth off a table that has already been set for dinner and none of the dishes fall off or move. Well, he does this trick in a classroom with a sheet of paper instead of a tablecloth. My jaw dropped. I'm still not sure how people pull that one off. Maybe it's a movie trick; I don't know.

Honestly, the only thing missing from this film is a few songs by Sylvia Fine. The songs in the movie are all right, but I missed hearing Danny sing one of his wife's songs. Sylvia had a true talent, and her songs were perfect for Danny. I think the film would have been a bit better had one been included. All in all, it's a good movie. Not bad. Not great. But good. Certainly an entertaining movie. Perhaps not worthy of any awards, but definitely not worthy of any criticism it received.

Film Information

Filmed: July 1 - October 17, 1957

Released: March 20, 1958
(Koenig, David.
Danny Kaye: King of Jesters, pg 183)

Merry Andrew was primarily a vehicle for comedian Kaye who was making his first movie in more than two years during a brief interval from his role as ambassador for UNICEF. But although he floated around the Big Top dressed in a gas-filled suit, surrounded by cute, funny animals, there weren’t many laughs as might have been expected from the consummate clown. Kaye and Pier didn’t get on, nor did she understand his brand of humor. “Danny was a nut,” Esme Chandlee remembers, “he was always ‘on’ and he regarded Pier as just a pretty little girl–when she wanted to be taken seriously as an actress.” [Source: Allen, Jane. Pier Angeli: A Fragile Life. McFarland & Company, 2002.]

“M-G-M will sign up an entire circus for Merry Andrew, in which Danny Kaye and Salvatore Baccaloni will play clowns.” (April 16, 1957)

The term “Merry Andrew” is British slang for a clown. defines the term as “a person who amuses others by ridiculous behavior.”

According to a July 2011 review, the film was based off the story “The Romance of Henry Menafee” by Pau Gallico.


“Danny Kaye Says His Ambition To Be Doctor Basis of Success” - interview with Danny about his early goals; Apr. 1958

“Highly Paid Buffoon: Interview With Danny Kaye” - interview with Danny; Mar. 1958

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