Timing is everything in comedy. This is true for the delivery of the joke and time after the event. Recently certain celebrities thought it’d be cute to make jokes about Japan on Twitter right in the middle of the country’s earthquakes, tsunamis and atomic disasters. Not many people laughed. A few of the comics found themselves doing major PR apologies and losing advertising gigs. On the Double waited 16 years until after the end of World War II to poke fun at D-Day. Danny Kaye wasn’t going to destroy his career by being too early with a punchline.
The Nazi spies in England receive orders to take out key military figures. The action opens with an assassin going after Col. MacKenzie-Smith. He’s the military leader in charge of D Day plans. Because of the attempt, all the bases in England have been locked down. This infuriates Pfc Ernie Williams that his leave has been canceled. He wants off base and is willing to impersonate Col. Williams to get past the guards at the gate. He slaps on an eye patch and an accent with a borrowed uniform. The plan eventually backfires and Ernie gets busted. Instead of punishment, he’s assigned to impersonate the Colonel. This allows the real Colonel to work without fear of being killed. It also makes Ernie a target, but he’s not too concerned with it. He’s too busy attempting to be accurate living the officer’s life. Turns out there’s an issue with eyes, booze and smokes. Turns out that the married Colonel also has a mistress on his staff. Ernie can’t expose the truth and must also keep up the lies. Eventually Ernie does get captured by the Nazis and must escape from Berlin.
Danny Kaye has a field day in the role of the private disguised as an officer. The comedy pours out of him. He keeps the British stiff upper lip while letting his exposed eye handle the comic surprise. He does his best to not look too over concerned with the evil fate that awaits him. On the Double works with Kaye’s sense of timing and the fact that most serious D-Day films were already done. This was the time to poke fun at the experience.
The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. For the most part the image looks good except when they use optical shots. There’s a bit of a grain issue when Kaye plays both the Colonel and the Private in the same frame. But that’s more about the optical effect than the transfers. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. Things sound fine for the time period.
On the Double is a fun Danny Kaye comedy about D-Day. He gets to unleash his comic talent as both an irresponsible American private and a secretive British office. He even gets to face off with an infamous Nazi.
Olive Films presents On the Double. Directed by: Melville Shavelson. Starring Danny Kaye, Dana Wynter, Wilfrid Hyde-White and Margaret Rutherford. Running time: 92 minutes. Released on DVD: March 8, 2011.
On the Double
Tags: Nazis, World War II