The Inspector General

The Inspector General

Musical, Comedy, Romance | 102 mins | Released: 1949
Director: Henry Coster
Starring: Danny Kaye, Walter Slezak, Barbara Bates, Elsa Lanchester, Gene Lockhart, Alan Hale, Walter Catlett
Our Rating: 7

The Inspector General revolves around Georgi (Danny Kaye), an illiterate member of a wandering band of Gypsies led by Yakov (Walter Slezak) who escapes from a travelling medicine show after he innocently lets slip that the elixir they’re selling is a fraud. Tired and hungry, he wanders into the small town of Brodny and whilst trying to sample the contents of a horse’s feedbag, he’s arrested as a vagrant and sentenced to hang the next day by a corrupt police chief (Alan Hale Sr.), desperate to prove his efficiency.

The town is run by a corrupt Mayor (Gene Lockhart), whose employees and councillors are all his cousins and equally corrupt and incompetent, but they are frightened when they learn that the Inspector General is in their neighborhood, and probably in disguise. The band of officials and the mayor want to protect their town and their lives, so, acting foolishly they seal off every road to keep the inspector from entering their town. They mistake Georgi for the Inspector and ply him with food and drink whilst plotting to have him killed. Yakov wanders into the small town and convinces Georgi to stay on as an inspector general and accept the bribes the officials so willingly throw at him. Of course, Yakov wants to seize Georgi’s misfortune and turn it into a new start for his own life.

Meanwhile, hearing tales of his legacy and courageous efforts the mayor’s wife instantly takes a liking to Georgi, hoping he will fall in love with her and whisk her away from the mayor and his lack of attention to her. However, Georgi has fallen in love with a servant and wishes to marry her.

Naturally, their plans go awry and Georgi, despite his innocence, discovers how corrupt they really are. And when the real Inspector arrives suddenly, he also realizes that Georgi is the most honest fellow he’s met since leaving Budapest. The Inspector General names Georgi the new Mayor of Brodny and presents him the mayoral gold chain, having taken it from the old mayor saying, “We’ll put something else around your neck.” Yakov becomes the new chief of police and Georgi gets the girl of his dreams.


Movie Notes:

The Inspector General is a 1949 Technicolor musical comedy film. It stars Danny Kaye and was directed by Henry Koster. The film also stars Walter Slezak, Gene Lockhart, Barbara Bates, Elsa Lanchester, Alan Hale Sr. and Rhys Williams. Original music by Sylvia Fine and Johnny Green.

The film is loosely based on Nikolai Gogol‘s play The Inspector General.

The plot is re-located from the Russian Empire into an unspecified corrupted region of a country that suddenly finds itself under the supervision of the First French Empire.

Nikolai Gogol’s play, “The Inspector General” opened in St. Petersburg, Russia. in April 1836.

Near the beginning of the movie Leza (Barbara Bates) is tightening the corset of Maria (Elsa Lanchester). Maria demands that Leza tighten the corset more and Leza explains that it’s already tight. After Maria leaves, another character comments that Leza was correct and the corset was too tight: “it makes her eyes bug out.”
This was an inside joke since Elsa Lanchester’s eyes were somewhat protuberant.

Pleasant Farce With a Fine Cast
12 June 2001 | by Snow Leopard (Ohio)
“A pleasant farce with a fine cast, “The Inspector General” gives Danny Kaye a chance to show off his many talents, and also tells a story that is quite humorous as long as you do not take it too seriously.
Kaye plays Georgi, an illiterate traveling huckster who helps his boss Yakov (Walter Slezak) sell useless medicines to gullible peasants. (The sequence where they try to sell their “elixir” is one of the movie’s best scenes.) Georgi visits a small town, where through a series of coincidences, he is mistaken by the town’s leaders for the Inspector General, an important official with sweeping powers to punish and reform. Half of the town fawns on him, while the other half panics over what he will discover in his “inspection”. Kaye just wants to leave town before they figure out who he really is, but plenty of complications arise that keep things going for quite a while.
Kaye gets to sing, dance, and generally entertain the audience. The supporting cast is filled with fine character actors like Gene Lockhart, Elsa Lanchester, and Alan Hale, who add to the humor. Not a lot of big laughs, but a steady stream of good-natured comedy all the way through.
This is an enjoyable movie recommended for anyone who likes musical comedy.”

Danny Kaye show with his particular talent as a great comic about an issue of mistaken identities
Author: ma-cortes – 8 March 2006
“An illiterate (Danny Kaye) along with his boss (Walter Slezak) are wandering and acting as medicine men into a provincial town wherein panic when he’s detained for vagrancy charge but he’s misidentified as a feared Inspector General who comes to check up on them whom the corrupter town officers ( the Mayor: Gene Lockhart and married to Elsa Lanchaster and another officer played by Alan Hale ) think is secretly moving in disguise . Then they make various bungled tryings to murder him. Meanwhile, he falls in love with a beautiful maid (Barbara Bates) who is serving to the Mayor.
The film is a Danny Kaye recital, he sings, dances, stooges, makes acrobatics, tongue twister and puts faces and grimaces. It’s a pretty amusing farce with the master comic and displays much choreography and musical numbers. Silya Fine, Kaye’s wife, is the lyricist, composer, besides producer and dialogs writer, and responsible for many of the best known musical routines and songs for her husband. The best gags are developed on the Charles Chaplin imitations when Kaye is having lunch ; the events in the room with several hosts that seem Marx brothers sketches ; in addition, the comic numbers in the military trainer headquarter . The motion picture is well directed by Henry Koster. This picture is a vehicle for Kaye as he’s an authentic comic and real farceur. If you like Kaye’s crazy interpretation, you will most definitely enjoy this one.”

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