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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

267 customer reviews

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Metaphors of Mind: An Eighteenth-Century Dictionary by Brad Pasanek
Metaphors of Mind: An Eighteenth-Century Dictionary by Brad Pasanek
This book provides an in-depth look at the myriad ways in which Enlightenment writers used figures of speech to characterize the mind. Learn more | See related books
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

If there's one movie Danny Kaye fans fondly remember, it's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The versatile comedian--also an unsurpassed song-and-dance man--plays a henpecked, thriller-genre book writer suddenly enmeshed in a real adventure involving the (literal) girl of his dreams (Virginia Mayo). Initially criticized for not staying true to the more melancholic sensibility of author James Thurber's original story (Thurber allegedly offered producer Samuel Goldwyn $10,000 to not make the film), it not only works as an independent story, but remains highly entertaining and wears well upon repeated viewing. Kaye's milquetoast Walter fantasizes distractedly about being heroic, whether a gunslinger, an Air Force pilot, or a riverboat gambler. His "Anatole of Paris" number, in which Walter fancies himself a French hat designer who, in the end, declares he hates women, is nothing short of brilliant. That number, like many of Kaye's trademark patter deliveries, was penned by his wife, Sylvia Fine. Kaye benefits from a wonderful supporting cast: Mayo; Boris Karloff as maniacal Dr. Hugo Hollingshead; Faye Bainter as Walter's repressive but lively mother; Ann Rutherford as his suspicious fiancée Gertrude; and Gordon Jones as Tubby, who not only has designs on Gertrude, but provides the villain in Walter's fantasies. --N.F. Mendoza

Special Features

  • Includes English Audio Track in Chace Surround Stereo
  • Introduction and Epilogue by Virginia Mayo

Product Details

  • Actors: Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo, Boris Karloff, Fay Bainter, Ann Rutherford
  • Directors: Norman Z. McLeod
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: Italian (Dolby Digital 1.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0), French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Italian
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Hbo Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 25, 1998
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (267 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305047529
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,682 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

109 of 111 people found the following review helpful By fra7299 VINE VOICE on May 2, 2006
Need someone to save the girl from a vicious blackmailer in a western? Walter Mitty is here. Need a highly skilled doctor to perform a nerve-racking surgery while up against the clock? Walter Mitty is the man. Need an expertly skilled air pilot to fly in World War 2, or a comedian/entertainer to help all the boys forget about the war with his little musical number? Yes, you guessed it: Walter Mitty.

This is by far one of my favorite stories to read and best loved films. Based on James Thurber's story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty stretches this story into a 100 minute feature film. Reportedly Thurber didn't like the movie too much, but, honestly, I believe there is little not to love in this movie. It does a superb job projecting the character Walter Mitty Thurber seemed to want to create. There is quite a deal more depth given to this character in the movie, and this is a good thing. Instead of just being a simple-minded man who dreams away from his uneventful life and wife to bigger and better things, this Walter Mitty leads two lives-the real, and the dream-which seemingly interconnect during the film.

There are subtle differences from the short story. For instance, Walter's wife (in the story) is replaced with his nagging mother in the film. He is going to be married, and is not only nagged by his mother but also his fianc?. However, after he witnesses a murder, he begins to question what is real and what illusion is, including the girl of his dreams (Virginia Mayo).

Another superb aspect of the film is simply the performance by Danny Kaye.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Baron Sardonicus on May 24, 2007
I have been in love with this film since I first saw it on TV when I was a child. It is one of those classic Hollywood comedies that just makes you happy. It's got so much going for it: the incomparable Danny Kaye, a hilarious premise involving dangerous jewel thieves, lovely Virginia Mayo, wonderful fantasy/daydream sequences, and the sinister Boris Karloff.

Danny Kaye is completely in his element here, playing a nervous wimp who escapes his dull life (controlling mother, and tedious job at the paperback publishing company) through daydreams of romance and adventure.

Until I saw this movie I had no idea how very gifted Kaye was. He can make a reaction to toast popping up seem hysterically funny. His timing and acting are brilliant, and his physical comedy is formidable.

I just wish that he had made more comedy films in the 40's and 50's. But I suppose it's better to have done a few brilliant gems than a whole bunch of decent movies.

I also recommend his films "Wonder Man", "The Court Jester", "The Inspector General", and also "Knock on Wood" (that last one is basically impossible to find anymore, so I wish they'd do a box set of his dvd movies!)...
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Dorian Tenore-Bartilucci on November 24, 2004
Format: DVD
While WONDER MAN and THE COURT JESTER might be more consistently wacky, I thought THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (TSLoWM) brought out the vulnerable side of Danny Kaye, one of my faves since childhood (I never missed any of Kaye's movies on WPIX when I was growing up). It usually gets on my nerves when I see movie characters allowing themselves to be as put-upon and henpecked as Kaye's Walter is here, but there was a sweetness about him that made me root for him instead of merely growling, "Oh, tell 'em all to go to hell already" -- and as a result, it's that much more satisfying when Walter finally does tell off his obnoxious so-called friends and loved ones (unlike such "comedies of cruelty" as MADHOUSE, where the last 10 minutes of Revenge Against The Oppressors are the only entertaining parts of the movie)! Although James Thurber, another of my faves, reportedly tried to buy off producer Samuel Goldwyn to keep the film from being made and hated the finished product, I think perhaps Thurber wasn't being quite fair. First off, books and film have different storytelling requirements, and second, the first 10 minutes are almost straight from Thurber's story (except it's Walter and his nagging mom instead of a nagging wife), and it seemed to me that the characters and performances had very Thurberesque qualities about them. Boris Karloff and Konstantin Shayne are delightfully unctuous villains (Fun Fact: their henchman, Henry Corden, later became the voice of Fred Flintstone!). As Walter's literal and figurative dream girl Rosalind van Hoorn, frequent Kaye co-star Virginia Mayo was thoroughly beguiling and never looked lovelier (and hey, the radiant Mayo was a size 12 and nobody considered *her* a "plus size," thank you very much! :-).Read more ›
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By P.G.K. on January 18, 2008
One of the all time classic comedic actors, Danny Kaye gives a charming and varied performance as day dreamer Walter Mitty. A helpless hopeful who works for a publishing company and constanly gets himself into trouble by dreaming his life more fantastic. Whether it be doctor, fighter pilot or gambling gentleman, he becomes the man he wishes he could be but is absolutely not. Charming, debonaire, brave and sophisticated. The real Walter Mitty posesses none of these attributes.

Things take a turn for him though as he finds himself mixed up with a beautiful woman who's in trouble and involved in a dangerous plan to retrieve a book containing locations for some hidden WWII paintings. A former nazi named "The Boot" is also aware of the book and will kill anyone in the way of securing it for himself.

Unfortunately for Walter, no one knows or believes his story as these people who constantly call on him for help are never around when anyone else is. His Boss, co-workers, and family all chalk it up to his wild imaginations and story writing career. This all makes for some funny moments where Walters secret life soon becomes his real life. But nobody knows it but him.

Danny Kaye does a wonderful job of selling every performance he's asked to. Every character he plays is totally different from the other and is a tribute to his versitility. He absolutely sells this movie and makes it work. A great performance. Keep an eye out for Boris Karloff in his psychiatrist role as well.

The disc works well for what it is. The color looks very good and natural. Overall, it's pretty clean and doesn't cause any unnecessary distractions. The audio is typically mono and focused to the front speakers. Everything is clearly heard and distinguishable. The score and dialog come across loud and clear.

This is a fun film for all ages. It works very well and can easily be watched again and again. Highly recommended.
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