Movie Review: The Inspector General (1949)

Synopsis: Georgi, an illiterate member of a traveling medicine show is fired after, in a fit of honesty, he reveals the medicine they are selling is fake. Alone and hungry, he wanders into a town in search of food only to have the town's dishonest leaders mistake him for Napoleon's inspector general. Desperate to hide their corruption, they treat Georgi like royalty while secretly planning to assassinate him.

Who's in it? The movie stars Danny Kaye, Walter Slezak, Barbara Bates, Alan Hale and Elsa Lanchester.

Review: I had this movie saved to my streaming library for several weeks before finally getting around to watching it yesterday evening, while my daughter was skating. I honestly had some doubts about it, mostly because I'm not a big fan of musical comedies. However, it turned out to be a great film.

I think the thing that really set this film apart from others in this genre is the fantastic cast. Danny Kaye is the star but he gets quite a bit of help from a talented supporting cast and, without them, I'm not sure this movie would have been anywhere near as entertaining.

My favorite character of the bunch had to be the mayor's wife, Maria (Lanchester). The way she unabashedly threw herself at Georgi (Kaye) in a desperate attempt to get away from her husband was entertaining and funny, especially when paired with Georgi's very believable reluctance. Frankly, I feel the characters had more on-screen chemistry than Georgi's actual love interest, Leza (Bates) and I did find myself feeling a little sorry for Maria as a result.

I also have to admit, I found I liked the song and dance numbers a lot more than expected. I especially liked the Gypsy drinking song despite the fact it did seem like it was starting to drag on a bit too long (almost as though the filmmakers needed to fill some screen time).

The ending was also something that I thought was memorable, especially when the real inspector general (Rhys Williams) shows up and Georgi needs to move fast to avoid being executed for his fraud. The movie ended about the way I expected it to but the film wasn't anywhere near as predictable as I thought it would be as a result of that twist.

Final Opinion: It's not a genre I watch very often but this was a film that was good enough to convince me to give it a try a little more frequently. If you haven't seen the movie, I recommend it.

My Grade: A


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