Double Kaye, Double the Fun
They say some people sing so beautifully that they could sing the phone book and still sound great. I reckon if you had given Danny Kaye the phonebook he could have kept you in fits for hours he was such a great entertainer. And to be honest you have to be something pretty special when your co-stars in a movie are Virginia Mayo and Vera-Ellen because they were both attractive and supremely talented. But that is exactly what Danny Kaye does in "Wonder Man" the amusing musical which sees Kaye playing twins, one of which is a ghost.
Buzzy Bellew (Danny Kaye) is the star at the Pelican Club and is about to marry his dance partner Midge Mallon (Vera-Ellen). But he is also due to testify in court against gangster Ten Grand Jackson (Steve Cochran) except Ten Grand isn't going to let that happen and has his men kill Buzzy. What no one knows is that Buzzy has a twin brother, the studious Edwin Dingle (Danny Kaye) who has a thing going on with librarian Ellen (Virginia Mayo). Determined to make Ten Grand pay Buzzy returns as a ghost and forces Edwin to take his place leading to numerous complications especially as Edwin hasn't a clue to performing on stage.
"Wonder Man" is the sort of movie which unless you are a huge fan of Danny Kaye will probably end up getting on your nerves. The reason being is that the storyline whilst amusing is actually quite weak and relies heavily on Danny Kaye to make it funny. I say weak because if you cut out the musical scenes and Danny Kaye being funny you are probably left with less than 30 minutes of story which revolves around the confusion of Edwin pretending to be Buzzy and ending up with upset women, angry gangsters, police after him and plenty of confusion.
But trust me when I say that if you are a fan of Danny Kaye you won't mind the weakness because it is 98 minutes of Kaye showing what entertainment really is. From the musical number he shares with Vera-Ellen near the start to the various scenes where thanks to technology he acts opposite himself it is classic Danny Kaye with great face pulling and quick fire word play. Plus of course with Kaye playing Buzzy a performer and then Edwin the studious twin you have double the fun as well as some fun with ghostly issues such as trying to pick up a glass and inhabiting someone else's body.
The amazing thing is that "Wonder Man" has an amazing supporting cast which not only features the beauty and talent of Virginia Mayo and Vera-Ellen but also S.Z. Sakall. These 3 and various others were all great entertainers in their own right yet Kaye still manages to be the star of the movie without seeming to hog the lime light. In fact Vera-Ellen gets a wonderful musical number all to herself where she show what a fantastic dancer she was.
What this all boils down to is that "Wonder Man" is great entertainment for those who are fans of Danny Kaye but due to a script which relies heavily on him may disappoint those who are not so keen on Kaye's brand of entertainment.