Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


Gene Tierney and Danny Kaye 
ON THE RIVIERA (1951). Director: Walter Lang.

Entertainer Jack Martin (Danny Kaye) works on the Riviera with his girlfriend, Colette (Corinne Calvet), but he is told by club manager Gapeaux (Sig Ruman) that he is through unless he comes up with a catchier act. Jack decides to do his impression of married playboy and famous pilot Henri Duran (also Kaye) who looks just like him. To keep a business deal from collapsing along with their careers, associates of Duran importune Jack to pretend to be Duran while he is out of town, causing complications involving Colette and Duran's wife, Lili (Gene Tierney). This is a remake of That Night in Rio (itself a remake of a French film), and it has one insurmountable problem. Why do a remake unless it is an improvement over, or distinctly different from, the original? This version adds Technicolor and a few weak songs by Sylvia Fine (Kaye's wife) that you forget even as you're listening to them. Another problem is that On the Riviera casts competent but essentially unknown French actors in smaller roles instead of the flavorful and more familiar character actors that usually pepper and add enjoyment to these films. Kaye is okay, but has been seen to better advantage in other vehicles. Corinne Calvet [So This is Paris] is gorgeous and capable, as is Gene Tierney [The Pleasure Seekers]. Clinton Sundberg [The Kissing Bandit] plays the taciturn butler, Antoine, in his usual effective style. Jean Murat is Felix Periton, with whom Duran wants desperately to do business. Kaye does so-so impressions of Maurice Chevalier and Carmen Miranda, both of whom starred in previous versions.

Verdict: One dip in the well too many. **.


angelman66 said...

Unfortunately Mr. Kaye's charms escape me, and Miss Tierney's talents seem better served in other rare. I do find the rumored affair between Kaye and Sir Laurence Olivier sort of titillating though!!
- C

William said...

The book by Donald Spoto which mentions the affair has many pages of notes, but I recall (at least in the edition I read) that he gives absolutely no source -- not even a bit of gossipy here-say -- for this affair or one-nighter or whatever it was. I agree, it's interesting, but ...

Frankly I can think of sexier combinations, LOL!

As for Kaye as an actor, he was an acquired taste, good in some vehicles and off-putting in others.