Merry Andrew


1h 43m 1958
Merry Andrew

Brief Synopsis

An archaeologist's search for Roman treasure gets him mixed up with a circus troupe.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Musical
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
May 1958
Premiere Information
World premiere: week of 20 Feb 1958, Singapore; New York opening: 20 Mar 1958
Production Company
Sol C. Siegel Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m
Sound
Perspecta Stereo (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
9,225ft

Synopsis

On the last day of class at the all boys Larabee School in England, Andrew Larabee captures his students' flagging attention with a rousing song honoring his favorite Greek deity, Pan. After class, Andrew's fiancée, Letitia Fairchild, presses him to seek the house master position from his severe and exacting headmaster father Matthew, so that they might finally marry. Andrew agrees, then welcomes his visiting older brothers, Dudley and Gregory, who also encourage him to request a promotion. Later, Matthew chastises Andrew for failing to publish and dismisses Andrew's passion for archeology and hopes of finding an ancient statue of Pan rumored to be buried not far from the school. Matthew rejects Andrew's desire to search for the statue until Dudley points out that should Andrew find it, he would have a topic on which to publish. A few days later, with his father's permission to make the dig, Andrew sets off to the burial site only to discover the Gallini family traveling circus is setting up on the location. Because the area has been purchased by Lord Elmwood to establish a dairy farm, the police order the Gallinis to leave. Determined to dig regardless of the circus, Andrew proceeds to the meadow, where the five Gallini brothers and their pretty younger sister Selena mistake him for a contractor. Confused, Andrew assures the family it makes no difference to him if they remain, so the Gallinis happily unpack again. Soon afterward, Lord Elmwood arrives to inspect the property and Andrew recognizes him as a former Oxford classmate. When Elmwood threatens the removal of Andrew and the circus, Andrew, who knows an embarrassing detail in the lord's past, lightly threatens to blackmail him and Elmwood agrees to give Andrew and the Gallinis a week before he begins construction on the dairy farm. That evening, after being awed by the circus performance, Andrew dines with the Gallinis, then takes a walk with Selena, who reveals that she and her overly protective brothers have been reared by their uncle Antonio, the circus ringmaster, after the death of their parents in a car accident. The next day, with help from the Gallinis' pet chimpanzee Angelina, Andrew discovers an underground tunnel on the site where he has been digging. Enthused, Andrew continues digging throughout the day and burrows into the tunnel ceiling which opens directly into the middle of the circus lion act. Unaware of the lions' presence, Andrew climbs up through the hole and the audience cheers in anticipation. When the lions threaten Andrew, he uses his best schoolmaster voice to order them back to their places and escapes the lion cage unharmed, which impresses Selena. Later, Andrew confides to Selena his excitement upon hearing the audience and she tells him that he is a born "Joey" or, a clown. Over the next couple of days, Selena teaches Andrew to juggle. Later, when Antonio discovers he has lost his voice, the family plead with Andrew to take his place as ringmaster for the matinee. Andrew agrees, but later when he spots Letitia and Dudley, who have come to check on his progress, he implores Selena to help him create a disguise. With her brothers' help, Selena dresses Andrew as a jolly, fat clown. Unable to find Andrew, Letitia and Dudley stay to watch the circus performance and do not recognize Andrew. After the show, Selena is jealous to see Andrew with Letitia and later, follows him to the tunnel. When Selena angrily hurls a stick into the tunnel, it causes a cave-in, trapping both her and Andrew. Realizing that they cannot dig their way out, Andrew suggests that they conserve air by waiting until someone searches for them. Concerned and suspicious about Andrew and Selena's disappearance, the Gallini brothers search vainly for their sister all night. The next morning when a hungry Angelina pulls up her stake in order to reach a banana, the ground under the stake gives way, revealing Selena and Andrew napping. The Gallini brothers accuse Andrew of improper behavior and insist that he marry Selena immediately. When Andrew asks Selena to tell her brothers that nothing occurred between them, she remains silent. After Antonio then declares that the marriage will be set for the following Saturday, the family celebrates enthusiastically. Unknown to all, Angelina has explored the tunnel and discovered the Pan statue, which she hides in her cage. The next day when Andrew protests to Selena that he has obligations at the school and cannot marry her, she sadly agrees. Returning home just before the start of summer school, Andrew admits to Matthew that he did not find the statue, but his father reveals he has promoted him anyway, allowing him to marry Letitia right away and thus insure future generations of Larabees to continue the academic tradition. Matthew sets the marriage for Saturday, which depresses Andrew. After summer classes begin, the schoolboys find a flyer for the Gallini circus and demand to go to celebrate Andrew's wedding, but Andrew refuses. On the eve of the wedding, Andrew is startled when Selena sneaks into his room to present him with the statue she found in Angelina's cage. Grateful, Andrew confesses that he is marrying Letitia and Selena kisses him goodbye. When Andrew's class is discovered missing on the day of the wedding, Andrew goes to the circus in search of them. Meanwhile, Matthew, Dudley and Gregory discover the statue and the circus flyer. They arrive at the circus to find Andrew in the middle of the Gallini brothers' high wire act, where the aerialists are demanding that Andrew agree to marry Selena before they let him down. Later, in front of the Larabees and the Gallinis, Andrew admits his love for Selena. After Dudley proclaims his love for Letitia, Matthew recalls that the first Larabee was jester to a king and approves of Andrew's marriage and new life in the circus.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Musical
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
May 1958
Premiere Information
World premiere: week of 20 Feb 1958, Singapore; New York opening: 20 Mar 1958
Production Company
Sol C. Siegel Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m
Sound
Perspecta Stereo (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
9,225ft

Articles

Merry Andrew


The multi-talented Danny Kaye made a career out of his physical comedy and unique tongue-twisting novelty songs often penned by his wife and partner Sylvia Fine. In Merry Andrew (1958), Kaye took it down a notch, giving a more relaxed performance than in earlier efforts such as The Court Jester (1956). Gone are the Sylvia Fine specialty songs; instead the emphasis is on Kaye's comedic skills but musical numbers still figure prominently in the narrative.

In Merry Andrew, Danny Kaye plays Andrew Larabee, a teacher at an exclusive boys' school in England. Andrew comes from a long line of stuffy academics, and his often unorthodox teaching methods and happy-go-lucky attitude are frowned upon by his buttoned-down family as well as his fiance Letitia (Patricia Cutts). When Andrew travels to Italy on an archaeological expedition, he befriends a family of traveling circus performers whose tent is pitched over his dig site. In this zany plot twist, it isn't long before Andrew begins to hear his true calling - performing - and falls for the beautiful acrobat Selena (Pier Angeli).

The circus backdrop in Merry Andrew proves a perfect forum to showcase Danny Kaye's unique talents. The songs written by Saul Chaplin and Johnny Mercer are charming and upbeat with an accompanying musical score adapted and conducted by Nelson Riddle. The Variety review at the time said, "Merry Andrew has a happy-go-chuckley attitude and some of the smartest musical numbers in some time, set up by stand-out music and lyrics."

Merry Andrew bears the distinction of being the only film directed by the celebrated choreographer and dancer Michael Kidd, who won numerous Tony awards for his dynamic choreography on Broadway. Kidd had made a smooth transition to feature films, his most distinguished achievement being the rousing choreography for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954). And the director's dance background is evident in the way Merry Andrew's vibrant musical numbers stand out such as "The Square of the Hypotenuse," "Pipes of Pan," and "Salud."

Unfortunately, Pier Angeli, who plays Danny Kaye's love interest Selena, did not get to enjoy the kind of happy ending so often told in a Hollywood musical. The beautiful Italian actress had been brought to Hollywood by director Fred Zinnemann to star in the critically acclaimed drama Teresa (1951). She enjoyed moderate success in American films throughout the next decade. However, when her career waned during the 1960s, she returned to Europe to find acting work. With two failed marriages (one to singer Vic Damone) and few acting prospects, Angeli sank into depression. She returned briefly to Hollywood to make one last film in 1971 before committing suicide by taking an overdose of barbiturates.

Producer: Sol C. Siegel
Director: Michael Kidd
Screenplay: I.A.L. Diamond, Isobel Lennart, Paul Gallico (story)
Cinematography: Robert Surtees
Film Editing: Harold F. Kress
Art Direction: Gene Allen, William A. Horning
Music: Saul Chaplin
Cast: Danny Kaye (Andrew Larabee), Pier Angeli (Selena), Salvatore Baccaloni (Antonio Gallini), Noel Purcell (Matthew Larabee), Robert Coote (Dudley Larabee), Patricia Cutts (Letitia Fairchild).
C-103m. Letterboxed.

by Andrea Passafiume
Merry Andrew

Merry Andrew

The multi-talented Danny Kaye made a career out of his physical comedy and unique tongue-twisting novelty songs often penned by his wife and partner Sylvia Fine. In Merry Andrew (1958), Kaye took it down a notch, giving a more relaxed performance than in earlier efforts such as The Court Jester (1956). Gone are the Sylvia Fine specialty songs; instead the emphasis is on Kaye's comedic skills but musical numbers still figure prominently in the narrative. In Merry Andrew, Danny Kaye plays Andrew Larabee, a teacher at an exclusive boys' school in England. Andrew comes from a long line of stuffy academics, and his often unorthodox teaching methods and happy-go-lucky attitude are frowned upon by his buttoned-down family as well as his fiance Letitia (Patricia Cutts). When Andrew travels to Italy on an archaeological expedition, he befriends a family of traveling circus performers whose tent is pitched over his dig site. In this zany plot twist, it isn't long before Andrew begins to hear his true calling - performing - and falls for the beautiful acrobat Selena (Pier Angeli). The circus backdrop in Merry Andrew proves a perfect forum to showcase Danny Kaye's unique talents. The songs written by Saul Chaplin and Johnny Mercer are charming and upbeat with an accompanying musical score adapted and conducted by Nelson Riddle. The Variety review at the time said, "Merry Andrew has a happy-go-chuckley attitude and some of the smartest musical numbers in some time, set up by stand-out music and lyrics." Merry Andrew bears the distinction of being the only film directed by the celebrated choreographer and dancer Michael Kidd, who won numerous Tony awards for his dynamic choreography on Broadway. Kidd had made a smooth transition to feature films, his most distinguished achievement being the rousing choreography for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954). And the director's dance background is evident in the way Merry Andrew's vibrant musical numbers stand out such as "The Square of the Hypotenuse," "Pipes of Pan," and "Salud." Unfortunately, Pier Angeli, who plays Danny Kaye's love interest Selena, did not get to enjoy the kind of happy ending so often told in a Hollywood musical. The beautiful Italian actress had been brought to Hollywood by director Fred Zinnemann to star in the critically acclaimed drama Teresa (1951). She enjoyed moderate success in American films throughout the next decade. However, when her career waned during the 1960s, she returned to Europe to find acting work. With two failed marriages (one to singer Vic Damone) and few acting prospects, Angeli sank into depression. She returned briefly to Hollywood to make one last film in 1971 before committing suicide by taking an overdose of barbiturates. Producer: Sol C. Siegel Director: Michael Kidd Screenplay: I.A.L. Diamond, Isobel Lennart, Paul Gallico (story) Cinematography: Robert Surtees Film Editing: Harold F. Kress Art Direction: Gene Allen, William A. Horning Music: Saul Chaplin Cast: Danny Kaye (Andrew Larabee), Pier Angeli (Selena), Salvatore Baccaloni (Antonio Gallini), Noel Purcell (Matthew Larabee), Robert Coote (Dudley Larabee), Patricia Cutts (Letitia Fairchild). C-103m. Letterboxed. by Andrea Passafiume

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Carla Wallenda, of the Flying Wallendas high wire circus act, appears as an aerialist in the film. Hollywood Reporter news items indicate that leading trapeze star Dick Anderson of the Clyde Beatty Circus; aerialist Rose Marie Johnson; clown Jack McAfee; Walter Long, star of Ringing Bros. Circus; Kendrick Huxham and Fred Shaw were set to appear in the film, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Merry Andrew marked the directorial debut of choreographer and actor Michael Kidd.
       A September 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item notes that director Kidd hired the following 24 dancers for the film's large scale production number: Lisa Baugher, Carmen Clifford, Darleen Engle, Alicia Krug, Audrey Saunders, Patti Saunders, Sally Sorvo, Dolores Starr, Larri Thomas, Lida Thomas, Bette Uitti, Sally Whelan, Herman Boden, Bob Cole, Jack Dodds, Ricardo Gonzales, Frank Magrin, Serge Maurier, Frank Miller, Gregor Momdgean, Charles Owens, Paul Rees, Tony Rosa and Alex Ruiz, but their appearance in the film has not been confirmed. Information in the M-G-M music file indicates that Betty Wand dubbed "eight bars" for Pier Angeli during the song "Buona Fortuna" as Angeli, who did her own singing, had already completed her role in the film. According to a February 1958 news item, the world premiere of Merry Andrew in Singapore and Penang was the first Hollywood premiere of a major film in Southeast Asia.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Spring April 1958

CinemaScope

Released in United States Spring April 1958