INSPECTOR GENERAL, THE (1949)

 

THE PLOT THUS FAR

An illiterate stooge in a traveling medicine show wanders into a strange town and is picked up on a vagrancy charge. The town’s corrupt officials mistake him for the inspector general whom they think is traveling in disguise. Fearing he will discover they’ve been pocketing tax money, they make several bungled attempts to kill him.

WHAT WE THOUGHT

Kaye plays Georgi, an illiterate traveling huckster who helps his boss Yakov (Walter Slezak) sell useless medicines to gullible peasants. The sequence where they try to sell their “elixir” is one of the movie’s best scenes. Georgi visits a small town, where through a series of coincidences, he is mistaken by the town’s leaders for the Inspector General, an important official with sweeping powers to punish and reform. Half of the town fawns on him, while the other half panics over what he will discover in his “inspection”. Kaye just wants to leave town before they figure out who he really is, but plenty of complications arise that keep things going for quite a while.

This is because the Mayor and his cohorts are quite willing to bribe their way out of the current investigation. This includes selling the Mayor’s wife for sex, and paying out much in bribes and “gifts”. And in the end, after “Georgi” and Yakob leave with their loot, the Mayor thinks he will be called to St. Petersburg for some really important post. But months later they hear of a letter circulating in the capital from “Georgi” boasting of how he fooled the Mayor and his cohorts. Then, just as things couldn’t get worse, a servant announces the arrival of “a Government Inspector” to review the books. Everyone freezes in terror as the curtain falls.

The DVD comes with on-set home videos taken by the director Henry Koster and shown with commentary by his son. There’s also a short film from 1938 featuring Danny Kaye with its own commentary. The A/V Quality is pretty sharp for an older film on DVD, however it still looks like it could’ve been remastered a little better. Most of those materials are long gone or severely rotted, so the amount of material needed to really make these films shine requires money that usually only comes from the major studios. Sadly, a major studio would scoff at releasing a film like this. Thankfully, we’ve got Shout Factory to release these Old Hollywood gems. I’d recommend a purchase.

RELEASE DATE: 09/20/2011

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