Up in Arms (1944)

Academy Awards

Nominated for Best Music, Original Song (“Now I Know”) & Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture

In the late '30s, Danny had been in some cheaply-made shorts, which didn't do much for his career at the time--and which, I think, he later preferred to forget. As a result, Up in Arms, is his first feature film. Danny's recognition first came in 1940 when he was appearing at the nightclub, La Martinique, with his wife, Sylvia. This led to a part in the Broadway production, Lady in the Dark, where he hit it big singing "Tschaikowsky." Following that was a leading role in the production Let's Face It where he first performed "Melody in 4-F." Movie offers started coming in, and Danny and Sylvia finally settled on a contract with Samuel Goldwyn. Up in Arms was a definite success. Audiences loved Danny and his unique performance. The movie is a cute comedy with plenty of opportunities to showcase Danny's talents. Danny plays a young man named Danny Weems who is a severe hypochondriac. There are many hilarious scenes with Danny convincing other people that they've got some awful, serious ailment. In the movie Danny finds himself in all sorts of trouble. He's in love with a girl who isn't in love with him. He's drafted into the army, accidentally smuggles said-girl onto the ship, tries to keep her out of view of the colonel, ends up getting tossed into the brig, is captured by the Japanese, and imitates their commanding officer to escape. Throughout the film, Danny uses big words, fast talk, accents, hilarious antics, and songs...all the signature pieces of his act at the time. It's more than just a comedy vehicle for Danny, however. Even in his first film, you can see his talent for acting. When Danny finds out that the girl he's in love with is actually in love with his best friend, you can just feel the heartache emanating from his eyes. And, if you're one for crying, it may just bring tears to your eyes!

The popular song "Melody in 4-F," which became famous in Let's Face It, is featured in this movie. It was written by Sylvia, but as you'll read in articles and books, Sylvia gives most of the credit to Danny. For it was Danny who came up with all the actions and scat-singing that made this song such a big hit. As Danny's first movie, this is one you certainly won't want to miss. It's a cute story, but certainly wouldn't have been much without its star performer!

Screencaps          Favorite Scene / Summary of the Movie          Newspaper Reviews          

Movie Trivia

Film Information

Filmed: June 21 - Sept. 18, Dec. 23, 1943

Released: March 27, 1944
(Koenig, David.
Danny Kaye: King of Jesters, pg 66)

This is Danny’s first feature film. He would wgo on to make 16 more. Six of his movies, including this one, were with producer Sam Goldwyn.

Danny first performed “Melody in 4-F” in the Broadway production, Let’s Face It. It was written by his wife, Sylvia Fine. The creation of the song is described in Kurt Singer’s The Danny Kaye Story.

“’I was progressing very slowly,’ Sylvia recalls, ‘when one night I remembered a silly bit of improvisation Danny had once done at a dinner party. Our host, a doctor, was called away to perform a very delicate operation. My medicine-happy husband begged to be allowed to accompany him. When they returned someone asked Danny how the operation went, and he answered them by going into an elaborate pantomime, punctuated by scat and a few intelligible words.
         ‘This memory started an idea. It was the first year after our entrance into the war. Every man–and every woman–had the draft uppermost in mind. The draft, medical examinations, doctors . . .
         ‘In approved movie style, I woke Danny up with a loud, “I’ve got it!” and scrambled out of bed […].’” (Pg 97)

According to Kurt Singer’s The Danny Kaye Story, Danny thought that “The Lobby Number” was one of his best numbers he ever performed. (Pg 186)

This was Virginia Mayo’s first film appearance. In this movie, she was one of the Goldwyn Girls. The following year, she would be filming her first starring role opposite Danny in Wonder Man.


“Injuries Often Bench Film Stars Who Try Too Hard for Realism” - brief section from an article about Danny’s injuries from Up in Arms and Knock on Wood; Mar. 1954

“Danny Kaye Worries Plenty While Becoming Comedy Hit” - early article about Danny and his first movie Up in Arms; Apr. 1944

“Danny and Dinah–They’re a New Team” - early article about Danny and his first movie Up in Arms; Mar. 1944

“Danny Kaye Begins His First Movie” - article about Up in Arms with quotes from Danny and Dinah Shore; July 1943

Small Snippet Regarding Up in Arms - brief article; 1943

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