Hans Christian Andersen (1805-75) was an Ugly Duckling. He lived in the third largest town Odense, in Denmark. The son of a cobbler he was poverty ridden and a failure as an actor and it wasn't until he moved to Copenhagen and won the patronage of Frederick VI, through his poetry, that he wrote his fairy tales and developed into a swan. Like many artists he wasn't particularly happy, and never did marry, although he was very fond of Jenny Lind (1820-87) the Swedish Nightingale a soprano given the name by P.T. Barnum during her tour of the United States between 1850-52.) Charles Vidor's film does state at the beginning, This is not the story of Hans Christian Andersen but a fairy tale about the great spinner of fairy tales. The Danes objected to the way Hans Christian Andersen was portrayed even though Goldwyn had rejected 21 previous manuscripts, so the film company inserted this statement in the credits. Danny Kaye with his chiselled features does resemble...
With all due respect, Leonard Maltin just doesn't get it with regard to this movie, and I hate to think his negative comments might prevent someone from seeing it. This was one of the most memorable movies from my childhood -- and I can only have seen it twice at the most, because there were no videos in those days. We had the soundtrack album and those glorious and, yes, melodic, songs burned themselves into my consciousness. I could not wait until my daughter was old enough to share this movie with, and now that we are watching it together (she is three), it is a joy to see her, too, respond to the magic and music of Danny Kaye's charming performance. For the past three months it has been her most requested video, and when we aren't watching it, she wants me to sing the songs, and when I can't do that, she sings them herself! And now that she is familiar with the musical versions of the fairy tales, she wants them read to her, and is thereby learning to listen to much...
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN presents a fanciful, fictionalised re-telling of the famed storyteller's life, highlighted by Frank Loesser's beautiful score and the perfect casting of Danny Kaye in the central role.
As the film opens, cobbler Hans is entertaining the children of Odense, Denmark, with yet another fantastic tale, much to the consternation of the schoolmaster who feels the children are having their time wasted when they should be studying. This seems to be the opinion of most of the townspeople, so Hans is politely told to leave town...for a while anyway. Hans and his young assistant travel to the bright lights and bustle of Copenhagen for a fresh start, but old habits die hard and soon Hans is entertaining a new group of children with his amazing storytelling talents. When Hans is engaged to make slippers and toe-shoes for the city's ballet troupe, he becomes entranced by the prima ballerina Doro (Zizi Jeanmaire in her film debut) not knowing that she's married...
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