Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
USA, 1946. The Samuel Goldwyn Company, Trinity Productions. Screenplay by Don Hartman, Melville Shavelson, from a screenplay by Grover Jones, Frank Butler, Richard Connell and a play by Lynn Root, Harry Clork. Cinematography by Gregg Toland. Produced by Samuel Goldwyn. Music by Carmen Dragon. Production Design by Stewart Chaney, Perry Ferguson. Costume Design by Miles White. Film Editing by Daniel Mandell.
Ten years after Harold Lloyd starred in The Milky Way, adapted from the play of the same name, a musical version makes its way to the big screen as a vehicle for the comedic talents of the one and only Danny Kaye. He plays a loose-limbed milkman who is failing at his job, he’s not selling nearly as well as his colleagues, and has a run of bad luck during a routine delivery late one clear Manhattan night: the horse that draws his cart falls onto the road ready to foal, and his need for a telephone leads him to the apartment of a beautiful but unemployed nightclub singer (Virginia Mayo) with whom he is immediately smitten.
He needs to call his music hall dancer sister (Vera-Ellen) to let her know he’ll be late to pick her up, and manages to pull up to her stage door just as she is being accosted by two very drunk patrons, one a middleweight champion (Steve Cochran) and the other his trainer. When Kaye’s defense of his sibling accidentally gets the boxer knocked out, their altercation makes the papers and spells terrible publicity for Cochran’s career in the ring, but his enterprising manager (Walter Abel) decides to make the best of the situation.
Abel hires Kaye to be his next discovery, with the only problem being that our stringbean hero has been dodging punches his whole life and never learned to throw one, so Abel takes him to the country with the sassy commentary of Eve Arden (who is divine) in tow for moral support, hoping to teach him to at least be competent in a fight. When that fails, the team do everything in their power to rig the fights so that Kaye makes good on his promise.
All this, two romances and a series of pleasant tunes too, in a hopelessly silly diversion shot in bright Technicolor that will put a smile on your face while mercilessly murdering your brain cells. None of it should be worth watching except for the fact that Kaye is such a skilled comedian that he makes an art of the physical goofiness he is called upon to repeat in scene after scene, and that alone induces enough giggles to make it a satisfying watch.