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DANNY KAYE: THE GOLDWYN YEARS

For Hicksflicks.com, Dec. 6, 2013

Danny Kaye's movies have been slow to come to DVD and the titles his fans most want to see on their shelves are his earliest, the five he made for Samuel Goldwyn in the 1940s when he was beginning his big-screen career. And those have been the slowest to arrive.

Of those five, only one has had an official U.S. release before now, "A Song Is Born" (1948), back in 2009.

Another, perhaps Kaye's most famous title, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (1947), will mark its DVD debut next week, on Dec. 10. (Gee, what a coincidence that Ben Stiller's remake is opening Christmas Day.)

The others are Kaye's first three movies, "Up in Arms" (1944), "Wonder Man" (1945) and "The Kid From Brooklyn" (1946) — and now they have been packaged with "A Song Is Born" for a new DVD four-pack: "Danny Kaye: The Goldwyn Years," available now at Warner Archive, the manufacture-on-demand website.

Kaye actually had been seen on the big screen before "Up in Arms" in a string of black-and-white short films, none of which showed him off at his best, though it's still fun to see him so young. (One, "Money On Your Life," is on YouTube.)

Then, when Kaye became a star on Broadway in two hit shows, Samuel Goldwyn wooed him with a movie contract, but it was two years before Kaye bit.

When he finally made "Up in Arms" it was a tremendous box-office success, as were those that followed.

I'm on the record as being a big Kaye fan. Back when I was a young movie critic starting out at the Deseret News in the late 1970s, I was assigned to talk with local movie buffs and compile a list of their top 10 favorite movies of all time, along with one of my own. "The Court Jester" (1956) was on my list then. Still is.

And I also love "Wonder Man" (1945), "White Christmas" (1954), "Knock on Wood" (1954), "On the Riviera" (1951), "Merry Andrew" (1958), "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and "The Kid From Brooklyn."

Today, Kaye's popularity is shrinking, but those who love him are rabid fans, and they'll be more than pleased with this new DVD set.