The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947)

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Directed by Norman Z McLeod
(number 480)

Honestly the only thing I knew about this movie is that they are remaking it with Ben Stiller and that it’s about a man who day dreams a lot.

I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it’s a lively, cute and funny movie about a man who works for a pulp novel publisher and whose daydreams are immerssive, bizarre and fun. Danny Kaye is Walter and he carries the entire movie, doing as many different antic turns as he can manage.

The plot is rather Hitchcockian, as Walter gets embroiled in a scheme of espionage and the Dutch crown jewels and discovers he is poorly equipped to deal with actual adventures. There’s a lot of confused reactions, ‘but I don’t know X!’ and people lying to him. Walter’s take on reality isn’t always cut and dry after all, and there’s a boy who cried wolf aspect to when he starts trying to complain about the weird things happening to him.

There’s a creepy relationship thing… he’s utterly under his mother’s thumb, and his fiance is a very infantile sort who baby talks to her lapdog. It’s all meant to symbolise the things he’s moving away from, the poor life that needs replacing, but still is an unsettling image of women. The femme fatale type who comes in and shakes things up is pretty strong and tricky, but ultimately it’s Walter who drives the story.

One downside: Unnecessary musical numbers – I mean, yes, they’re funny and impressive and often all in one shot… but they definitely interrupt the story and throw out the pacing. I would edit them out, personally.

Does it make me love the people? What’s not to love? The whole thing is vivacious and twisty.

Bechdel test: Well, yeah sorta. His mother talks to his fiance and her mother and they all compliment each other’s appearances.

Best line:

“Good evening, sir, may I look in your wife’s corset?”

State of Mind: Pleasantly surprised.


2 thoughts on “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947)

  1. His mother has a name in the movie or he just call her ‘mother’ all the time? Because Bechdel test demands the woman has a name.

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