Hans Christian Andersen (1952)

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN (1952)
Article #1527 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-20-2005
Posting Date: 10-17-2005
Directed by Charles Vidor
Featuring Danny Kaye, Farley Granger, Zizi Jeanmaire

A cobbler with a gift for telling fairy tales makes his way to Copenhagen, where he falls in love with a ballerina.

For many years, my only cinematic encounter with Danny Kaye had been watching a few scenes from this movie when I was a child. In particular, I never forgot a scene where he sings the story of Thumbelina to a young girl from his jail cell. I wondered for many years why I didn’t stick through the whole movie. Seeing it in its entirety many years later, I know why; the scenes of Andersen telling/singing stories/songs to the children give way to scenes about his love for a ballerina, and this whole subplot would have bored me to tears as a child. Nowadays I can weather it a bit better, but it, along with the big ballet numbers, is still the weakest part of the movie. It would have been better if they had stuck to the fairy tale songs, which, in their childlike simplicity, are simply perfect; “Inchworm”, in particular, still rings in my ears. It’s a shame this movie falters as often as it does; if it had managed to maintain the charm of its early scenes, it would have been a real classic.

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