Saturday, April 19, 2014

Rare Treats: The Emperor's New Clothes (The Enchanted World of Danny Kaye, 1972)

If Sammy Davis, Jr. hadn't recorded "The Candy Man" for the movie, "Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory", chances are Danny Kaye would have. Trust me. Other than Bill Cosby or maybe Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo), I can't think of anyone else that did more for kids than Kaye, who was an ambassador for UNICEF by the time this next item hit the air.

Nearly a year after Here Comes Peter Cottontail, Kaye made his 2nd--and last--special for Rankin-Bass and ABC. The Enchanted World of Danny Kaye was one of those rare entries from R-B that mixed live-action with animation. The studio had made some live-action movies, true, but they hadn't gone the hybrid route before full bore. Sure, there were live-action clips interspersed with some of their specials (i.e. The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town), but this was more than your average R-B primetime special.

The balance of the show is an adaptation, done in Animagic, of Hans Christian Andersen's The Emperor's New Clothes. If memory serves, however, R-B would do a fully animated version a year or so later for their syndicated Festival of Family Classics series. Kaye, who starred in a live-action biography of Andersen some years earlier, essays the role of Marmaduke, a con artist who creates some......very interesting wardrobe for the Emperor (Cyril Ritchard). Kaye appears in live-action form in bracketing segments to help move the story along, still in character.

Now, let's take a trip to The Enchanted World of Danny Kaye:

Kaye's performance of Marmaduke recalls another of his films, "The Court Jester", and, yes, he gets the girl in that one, too.

Rating: B.

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