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.
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,
“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. AudioEnglish.net 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.