Review: On the Double DVD

STUDIO: Olive Films | DIRECTOR: Melville Shavelson | CAST: Danny Kaye, Dana Wynter, Diana Dors, Margaret Rutherford, Wilfrid Hyde-White
RELEASE DATE: 3/8/11 | PRICE: DVD $24.95
SPECS: NR | 92 min. | Comedy | 2.35:1 widescreen | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

On the Double movie scene

Danny Kaye and Dana Wynter are gunning for bedroom fun in On the Double.

On the Double is the second vintage Danny Kaye (White Christmas) movie from the Paramount Pictures vault that was issued by Olive Films, following Knock on Wood, which came out in September 2010.

The film is set during World War II in London, when a playful American G.I. Ernie Williams (Kaye) is tapped by a British military liaison (Wilfrid Hyde-White, My Fair Lady) to publicly impersonate the well-known British Colonel MacKenzie, allowing the real Colonel to make a secret trip to the East.

Armed with the Colonel’s outrageous accent and eyepatch, Williams makes a go of it, dealing with the Colonel’s wife (Dana Wynter, Invasion of the Body Snatchers) who’s in on the ruse, adjusting to the amorous advances of MacKenzie’s sexy personal driver (Diana Dors, Berserk) and convincing his fellow military men that he is indeed the Colonel. But then the real Colonel’s plane goes down and Williams is forces to keep up the act, Nazi kidnappers and the approach of D-Day notwithstanding.

Less buoyant than Kaye’s best films but still a lot of fun, there are a couple of stand-out bits in On the Double: a Scottish “polka” scene involving a sword and a crystal chandelier, an inspired food fight between Kaye and Wynter, and an extended chase through a Berlin theater and cabaret where Kaye dons no less than a half-dozen disguises, poses as Hitler for a few moments and even gets a chance to role out his Marlena Dietrich impression.

There’s also a nice song, “Darlin’ Meggie,” composed by Kaye’s wife and regular collaborator Sylvia Fine (The Five Pennies), who was responsible for many of the songs and musical routines that appeared in his films.

Mastered in high definition from a 35mm archive print, the classic movie has its share of nicks and spots (archive or no, the source material was far from pristine), but the Technicolor is still glowing, as is the Panavision widescreen presentation.

The DVD has no bonus features, as is the case with most Olive releases culled from the Paramount archive, but Mr. Kaye does just fine on his own.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.