Wonder Man (1945)

Article #1088 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-7-2004
Posting Date: 8-4-2004
Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone
Featuring Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo, Vera-Ellen

When a nightclub entertainer comes forth as a witness to a murder committed by a notorious gangster, he is knocked off before he can testify. The entertainer’s ghost then persuades his bookworm twin brother to take over his identity for a few days.

Danny Kaye was known for his comic singing and monologues, and it’s really no surprise that this movie takes every opportunity to drop the story momentarily in order to jump into one of them. He plays a dual role here, but this doesn’t seem particularly novel in his case, as he would constantly change characters as an entertainer; he does very well as you might expect. The special effects are top-notch (it won an Oscar for them), and there are a number of familiar faces in the supporting cast, including Edward Brophy, Natalie Schafer, Huntz Hall (as a sailor who punches Kaye at one point) and Otto Kruger. My only complaint is that the comic bits do rely a little too much on the repetitions of two situations; jokes hinging on the fact that the living brother is the only one who can hear and see the dead brother, and the living brother’s constantly being stuck in situations where he needs the spirit brother to take over his body, but the spirit brother doesn’t show. This is somewhat compensated for the final musical number, which both highlights Kaye’s talents and advances the plot.

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