“That’s the nice thing about the world, my friend: people.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Unfortunately, the film becomes somewhat notoriously bogged down by its central subplot, in which Andersen — presumably a romantic neophyte — develops an obsessive crush on a beautiful ballerina (Jeanmarie) who he believes is being sorely mistreated by her ruthless manager/husband (played by Farley Granger, who apparently hated being forced to do this role).
The key scene Andersen witnesses — in which Granger mercilessly chastises Jeanmarie’s performance, and the two actually exchange physical blows — smacks weirdly of sado-masochism, given that the two clearly have an “understanding” with one another, and are still just as much in love as ever after their “encounter” (something Andersen fails to learn until much later on, naturally). With that said, it makes sense that Andersen would fall for a fairy-tale version of a woman rather than the complex adult herself — so perhaps this subplot isn’t quite as egregious as many critics have claimed.
Note: It’s distressing and a bit of a let-down to know that Kaye himself was very un-Andersen-like on the set of the film. According to TCM’s article, he was “repeatedly frustrated” with Jeanmarie’s “struggling grasp of English”, ran hot and cold in his friendliness towards Granger, and “became so petulant about the costumes that he wailed to Granger, ‘How come you get to wear all these beautiful clothes and I have to wear rags?'”
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: