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In the Wings

Backstage glimpses with Boston Lyric Opera

John Conklin on THE INSPECTOR GENERAL

Apr 25, 2012 10:44:00 AM
By BLO Staff

This was one of Danny Kaye's first big movie roles. Made in 1949, it features Kaye's inimitable blend of broad farce, unrivaled patter song prowess, unmerciful mugging, and a screen presence that, to me, can vary widely from charming to annoyingly overstated. A quite wonderful cast of supporting farceurs including Walter Slezak, Gene Lockhart, and Elsa Lancester add spice. 
A bit of trivia -  in the film, the ingenue role is played by Barbara Bates who had a quite brief and somewhat undistinguished film career - except that she played the girl (the new "Eve" as it were) in the last scene of ALL ABOUT EVE - that memorably ironic scene with Ann Baxter. This INSPECTOR GENERAL, like the Musto-Campbell opera currently onstage at the Shubert Theater, transfers the action from its original Gogolian Russia to some unnamed Mitteleuropa country during the Napoleonic era - but the plot stays essentially the same. The extended GYPSY SONG (lyrics written by the future wife of Kaye - Sylvia Fine) is a great showcase for the comic. The whole movie (available on DVD) is uneven and sometimes a bid draggy but when it's good (like Kaye) it is quite special. 
- BLO Artistic Advisor John Conklin

 

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