Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Inspector General (1949)

Rumor has it that Napoleon's Inspector General is on his way to investigate graft and corruption. This alarms the city leaders of Brodny, who know that corrupt officials get the firing squad. And they are as corrupt as the day is long.

In the outskirts are a group of gypsies (hate those people!!) selling an elixir to cure what ails you. After an amusing scene and song, our hero Georgi (Danny Kaye) lets slip that it's a fake. The townsfolk attacks the gypsies and the gypsies cast out Georgi. He travels to the the city of Brodny, who jail him in an effort to clean up the streets in advance of the Inspector's visit.

Well, then Georgi is mistaken for the Inspector and is given royal treatment. The illiterate Georgi plays along thinking he'll get the axe if found out. He tries to leave (to the great relief of the city leaders) but is stopped when his old gypsy friend spots him and uses the situation to bilk the town out of a kings ransom. Or a pipe organ. Whatever.

This is a Kaye vehicle from start to finish. He does silly songs, gets into and out of silly situations, does a few pratfalls, and everything turns out just grand in the end. He even gets the girl. Sorry if I spoiled it. If you were looking for a grim ending to a Danny Kaye film, you're out of your tree.

That girl? That would be the young Barbara Bates. Rocketing to stardom in the late 40's, she started to go bonkers. Out of Hollywood by the mid fifties, she toured the has-been circuit. When her elderly husband died, she chose to off herself.

The film also had old friend Elsa Lanchester in a small role and even the Skippers' dad. Wanna hear some dirt about Elsa? She said in her autobiography that she and hubby Charles Laughton never had children be cause o'll Chuck was the G.A.Y. Nonsense, says Maureen O'Hara (still living). The reason Elsa never had babies is because of a botched abortion! Said Elsa of Maureen: "She looks as though butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, or anywhere else." Hmmm.... I don't know. She could totally melt my butter.

I remember some of the scenes. Mostly the music, but little of the story. My boys watched. They didn't seem all that interested, but in the end they said they really liked it. I thought it was a little weak. Well done with decent acting and nice sets, but for some reason it didn't sparkle. Better than a lot of movies I've given a 3.0 to, so maybe I was expecting too much. My boys loved it so I added The Court Jester to my DVD queue. AMRU 3.5.

"Your Excellency - he took bribes, he drank all my wine, he-he-he yelled out the windows, he even made love to my wife! How could I doubt that he was an Inspector General?"