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If you are a fan of Danny Kaye, then you will want to add HBO’s terrific DVD edition of THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY ($25) to your collection. Of all of the films Danny Kaye made for Samuel Goldwyn, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY is probably the one that his fans best remember. THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY is a rich glowing Technicolor gem that finds Kaye at the peak of his comic brilliance.

In THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, Danny Kaye portrays the title character- a daydreaming milquetoast who imagines himself in all sorts of various heroic guises. As a pulp magazine editor, Walter has no end of fodder to feed his daydreams. However, daydreaming gets Walter into all sorts of trouble on the job as well as with his domineering mother and his fiancée. Throughout Walter's various imagined adventures remains a couple of constants: himself as the hero, a particular sound effect and the same beautiful blonde who is piques his romantic interest. Walter's humdrum existence is radically altered when he actually meets the woman of his dreams. Virginia Mayo portrays Rosalind van Hoorn, the beautiful damsel in distress that leads Walter on a real adventure that makes his daydreams pale by comparison. Soon, Walter finds himself the target of vicious Nazi spies and in a position where he must fight to save the life of the woman he loves. The delightful cast of THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY also features Boris Karloff (in one of his few Technicolor films), Fay Bainter, Ann Rutherford, Thurston Hall, Gordon Jones and Florence Bates.

HBO Home Video has done a terrific job bringing THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY to DVD. The transfer features a marvelous recreation of the film's glorious Technicolor hues. While not as good as viewing an original IB print projected in a revival house, this presentation reminds one of why Technicolor was such a phenomenal process and why its passing is still mourned by film buffs. Color reproduction on the DVD was excellent; saturation was solid, without a trace of chroma noise, even in the hottest colors. In addition to the rich looking colors, the transfer also had a totally satisfying level of detail. Digital compression artifacts were never bothersome.

The English soundtracks are offered in Dolby Digital monaural, as well as Chase Stereo Surround. I personally preferred the monaural track to the somewhat artificial sounding surround. Both tracks had minor age related anomalies, but they never distracted me from enjoying the film. French and Italian soundtracks have also been encoded into the DVD. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus feature a nice pulp magazine design that is in perfect keeping with the film. Through the menus one can access the DVD's supplemental features including an introduction by Virginia Mayo, a theatrical trailer and cast biographies/filmographies.

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY is a classic film that looks just wonderful on DVD. Absolutely recommended for Danny Kaye fans and fans of old style Hollywood entertainment.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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