The Inspector General (1949)

“He has full power from the emperor himself. And wherever he finds bribery and corruption, there the gallows and the firing squad go to work!”

Inspector General Poster

Synopsis:
An illiterate peasant (Danny Kaye) working for a traveling medicine show man (Walter Slezak) is mistaken as the feared Inspector General by a corrupt mayor (Gene Lockhart) and his fellow town officials.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary provides some interesting social context in the opening lines of his review of this “badly dated” Danny Kaye farce: he reports that Kaye (“part owner of the Seattle Mariners”) was “roundly booed” at a “game [he] attended in Yankee Stadium” a few years earlier, and notes, “How his star has fallen…”. Indeed, reading Bosley Crowther’s original review for the New York Times — in which he writes that “at this late date, there’s no necessity to describe Mr. Kaye’s comic type–a charming combination of the meek, the meticulous and the mad–or his wonderful grace and dexterity in manipulating his face and form” — supports this assertion. At any rate, Peary laments that the premise of The Inspector General (very loosely based on a play by Nikolai Gogol) “becomes as tiresome as all [of] Kaye’s songs”, but argues that Kaye — who “does some good physical comedy” — “comes off better than the silly script and better than in some of his other roles”. This may be true, but it’s not enough to recommend the film to anyone other than Danny Kaye fans. All-purpose film fanatics should stick with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947) and The Court Jester (1956) as their two obligatory Kaye flicks.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Several amusing songs
    Inspector General Songs
  • Walter Slezak — effectively menacing as Yakov the “Medicine Man”
    Inspector General Slezak
  • Elsa Lanchester in a too-brief performance as the mayor’s wife (who falls hard for the Inspector General)
    Inspector General Lanchester

Must See?
No; this one is only must-see for Danny Kaye fans.

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