The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
(Goldwyn; RKO Radio), a Technicolored distention of James Thurber's short story about a daydreaming timid-soul, is Danny Kaye's funniest movie. Henpecked half out of his senses by his mother (Fay Bainter) and threatened with worse by a sinister fiancee (Ann Rutherford) and prospective mother-in-law (Florence Bates), the celluloid Mitty (Kaye) deserves a Secret Life if ever a man did. He has several, all derived from the ferocious pulps he is paid to proofread.
He is an intrepid clipper skipper braving a typhoon singlehanded; the terror of the Luftwaffe and the toast of the R.A.F.; a coldly insolent, julep-sucking riverboat gambler; the surgeon who takes over when all seems lost and is soon able to say, "Don't cry, little girl, your brother will play the violin again." And in every one of these heroic visions the same lovely blonde (Virginia Mayo) is on hand to worship him.
One morning, the dream blonde turns up in real life. Followed by an unmistakably lethal type, she boards Mitty's commuters' train and persuades him to protect her. By now Mitty isn't sure which world he is at large in.
It soon turns out that he is white-collar-deep in a mess of international jewel-and-art thieves. But the man who has survived the horrors of home (including a terrible little lap dog) is more than a match for sinister Boris Karloff, the Goldwyn Girls in full bloom, and even rotund Thurston Hall, the screen's unrivalled embodiment of extreme unction. Just in the nick of time Mitty saves the blonde and himself from a fate worse than death.
As usual, Danny Kaye is really the whole show. His straight patter numbers (the most ambitious is Symphony for Unstrung Tongue) seem a little less funny as the years go by; but his dreamlife parodies of heroism are in every sense out of this world.
The Long Night (RKO Radio] is a powerfully unified, extravagantly energetic melodrama about a bewildered killer (Henry Fonda) and the cause and consequence of his deed. The killer is trapped in his little room, high in a poor man's hotel. He refuses to surrender. All night, while law & order works its way toward him and the curious public mills in the street below, he recalls in flashbacks the events leading up to the crime.
He had been in love with an innocent-seeming girl (Barbara Bel Geddes), but had begun to doubt her: it looked as if she might be secretly carrying on with an aging and odious magician (Vincent Price). The rest of their story bears some relation to Othello: a profoundly depraved man tortures a profoundly simple one with lies, half-lies and ugly possibilities about the young girl until the anguished hero, his trust destroyed, kills his tormentor.
The Long Night is an ambitious movie, with some glaring faults. Much of it is too loud, too sentimental, too insistent on giving grand-scale social meaning to an essentially personal story. Although the acting is unusually sincere, Vincent Price is too florid even for his florid role; Henry Fonda often counts too much on a sort of adenoidal pathos; Ann Dvorak is not very convincing as the other woman; and only Barbara Bel Geddes, making her screen debut, is really satisfactory.
Most cinemaddicts who compare the picture with the original French version