On the Riviera
Danny Kaye is one of those Hollywood legends that viewers today either adore or detest. Fans praise his prodigious talent, versatility, and clever wit, while detractors find his zany, rapid-fire comedy contrived, dated, or simply un-funny. Yet, in the decade from 1945-1955, he was one of America’s top box-office attractions, with several films to his credit. Four have already been released on Blu-ray, included favorites like "White Christmas" and "Hans Christian Anderson." This week, Fox is adding a lesser known Kaye title to the roster,"On the Riviera."
Based on a 1934 Broadway play, the story of an entertainer who impersonates his look-alike, a celebrity financier, proved a successful Hollywood musical for Chevalier in 1935. In the 1941 "That Night in Rio," Don Ameche assumed the dual roles, with Carmen Miranda as comic relief. Ten years later, Kaye played the pair, injecting comedy, singing and dancing into his performance. Sadly, the material had weakened by that point.
Gorgeous Gene Tierney simply fills out some fabulous Oleg Cassini originals; and Corinne Calvet is no Carmen Miranda. From a technical standpoint, the new Blu-ray is wonderful, with dazzling color and all-around excellent picture quality. There are even some fine featurettes on Kaye and choreographer Jack Cole. Yet, if you manage to tolerate Kaye’s hyperkinetic hijinks and the lackluster supporting cast, you’ll be driven over the edge by 90 minutes of phony French accent.
Attractive Technicolor footage of Southern France does help; but "On the Rivera" is recommended only for die-hard Kaye fans. Look quickly for a glimpse of the iconic Gene Tierney "Laura" portrait, in full color, hanging in her character’s Riviera mansion.
On the Riviera