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Movie Trivia

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947)

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, originally a short story by James Thurber, is one of Danny's most popular movies and was often referred to in articles. There were many reporters who liked to compare Danny's life to that of Walter Mitty's. While Walter daydreamed about many different professions and situations, Danny actually lived it. He became a pilot, a chef, an owner of a professional baseball team, and had an incredible knowledge of medicine and health. Walter Mitty is an excellent movie and is enjoyed by many fans. For years now, there has been talk of making another The Secret Life of Walter Mitty movie. Whether this would be an actual remake of Danny's movie or just another version of the short story is unclear, and there have been a variety of actors tied to the picture over the years including Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, and most-recently Ben Stiller. Danny himself said that of all his films this one was his favorite. (October 1960) As a young child, I watched this movie not long after seeing The Court Jester. Since that movie was so hilariously funny, my naive child's mind figured that all of Danny's movies would be exactly the same. So after seeing this movie for the first time as a young girl, I was naturally disappointed that it hadn't lived up to the same hilarity as The Court Jester. Obviously now, as an adult, I appreciate this movie much more than I originally did. There are some brilliant bits of humor sprinkled throughout this movie. One of my favorite physical bits of comedy in this movie is when Walter Mitty is finally told about the danger that he has been caught up in. If "The Boot" finds out that he has the "black book" (a book containing the whereabouts of valuable Dutch items) he will most surely kill Mitty in order to retrieve it. Danny's facial expressions and reactions while trying to drink a cup of tea is hilarious. This movie, in fact, has a bit of everything - intrigue, humor, drama, romance. Walter Mitty's daydreams add some fun variety, and they certainly show just how versatile and talented Danny really was. Virginia Mayo appears again as Danny's romantic interest and does an excellent job as the mysterious Rosalind Van Horn. Included in the movie are Sylvia Fine's two songs, "Symphony For Unstrung Tongue" and "Anatole of Paris," which Danny performs wonderfully. Overall it's a sweet little movie with much variety and definitely worth watching.

Film Information

Filmed: Apr. 8 - Aug. 21, Sept. 3, 4, 1946; Feb. 17, May 21, May 28, 1947

Released: Sept. 1, 1947
(Koenig, David.
Danny Kaye: King of Jesters, pg 102)

Danny’s fourth Samuel Goldwyn production.

This is Virginia Mayo’s fourth movie with Danny.

Danny’s wife, Sylvia, was pregnant with their only child during the filming of this movie.

The creation of “Symphony For Unstrung Tongue”: (October 1947)

The lanky comedian’s latest number, “Symphony For Unstrung Tongue,” similarly had its creation beginnings in gatherings of Kaye’s friends. Based on an idea Mrs. Kaye had after hearing Prokofieff’s “Peter and the Wolff,” the “Symphony” deals with the efforts  of a music  professor at the Royal Academy to demonstrate vocally the qualities of each instrument in the orchestra.
          For three years prior to the writing of this number, Mrs. Kaye had heard Danny “torturing” friends with polysyllabic, Czecho-Slovakian dialect which had been introduced into the Kaye household by Orchestra leader Johnny Green. Danny would double talk in this accent to guests at his home for an hour without uttering an understandable thought.
          When called upon to write a number for the RAF dream sequence in which Danny caricatures the professor, Mrs. Kaye combined his party dialect with another party routine in which he mimics a conductor, to come up with “Symphony For the Unstrung Tongue.”
           Given the usual Kaye treatment, it was first presented before a group of friends. It proved potent, and, according to Mrs. Kaye, “killed” people, especially Professor Dore Schary, who had to leave the room convulsed with laughter. The number had “live” approval and was incorporated in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”

“Anatole of Paris” was first performed in Danny’s first Broadway production, Straw Hat Revue, in 1939.

Fay Bainter was also in The Kid From Brooklyn.


“The Secret Life of Danny Kaye” - article about Danny and his preference for live performing; Oct. 1947

“Danny Kaye Is Latest Actor to Complain About Overwork” - small interview with Danny about wanting to take a break; Aug. 1946

“Danny Kaye’s Shopping For a Broadway Show” - a wonderful interview with Danny as an expectant father; July 1946

Amusing Snippets Regarding Walter Mitty - some brief articles, amusing snippets regarding Danny’s antics on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty; 1946

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