Hans Christian Anderson
Having just released "Guys and Dolls" on Blu-ray, Warner Brothers now turns to another big budget Sam Goldwyn-Frank Loesser collaboration, the 1952 Hans Christian Andersen.
The film was to be Hollywood's answer to Michael Powell's phenomenal "The Red Shoes," the original story of which was written, not coincidentally, by Andersen. Goldwyn had gone so far as to engage "Red Shoes" star Moira Shearer for the leading role of the ballerina in his film. But she became pregnant and had to abandon the project. For the title role, Goldwyn selected Danny Kaye, then at the zenith of his popularity. To insure the success of his venture, he assigned the score to Frank Loesser and the script to Moss Hart.
How could such a confluence of talents create such a dreadful film?
Nothing rings true in "Hans Christian Andersen." The admittedly fictionalized storyline is ludicrous, the sets synthetic, and the acting forced and stilted. The Roland Petit choreography evokes guffaws, particularly in the climactic "Little Mermaid" ballet -- no "Red Shoes," indeed! Were the visuals breathtaking, Warners' Blu-ray may have been worth at least a viewing.
The film underwent little or no restoration for the new edition, so several of the scenes are grainy and diffused. The Technicolor is rancid, in bad need of a cleaning. A slight improvement over the 1998 DVD, the "Hans Christian Andersen" Blu-ray is recommended only for Danny Kaye fanatics. For the kiddies at Christmas, there are far more humane video choices. And fans of Loesser's charming songs may fare better with a CD soundtrack.
Hans Christian Andersen