Wonder Man (1945): Oscar-Winning Musical Movie, Starring Danny Kaye Playing Twins

Danny Kaye plays the first of his set of twins, a nightclub entertainer an a shy intellectual, in Bruce Humerstone’s musical movie,“Wonder Man.”

In this tale, scripted by Don Hartman, Melville Shavelson, and Philip Rapp, Kaye appears as timid librarian Edwin Dingle and Edwin’s extroverted twin brother, nightclub entertainer Buzzy Bellew.

When Buzzy witnesses a gangland shooting, he is killed by mob boss Ten-Grand Jackson (Steve Cochran), because he knows too much. Edwin is then visited by Buzzy’s ghost, who persuades his bookish brother to help track the killer and bring Jackson to justice.

Edwin’s possessession by his brother’s spirit causes the expected confusions and misunderstandings with Edwin’s librarian girlfriend Ellen Shanley (Virginia Mayo) and with Buzzy’s more outgoing girlfriend, dancer Midge Mallon (Vera-Ellen, in her feature debut).

Shot in vivid Technicolor, “Wonder Man” is considered by some to be Kaye’s best Goldwyn vehicle.

Highlights include an opera spoof, an allergic rendition of “Otchi Chornya,” and a vignette in which Kaye imitates all the residents of a pet shop.

The sceondary cast includes  S.Z. Sakall, Otto Kruger, Natalie Schafer, Luis Alberni, Carol Haney, and Huntz Hall.

Oscar Nominations: 4

Special Effects: John Fulton, photography; A.W. Johns, sound

Sound recording: Gordon Sawyer

Song: “So in Love,” music by David Rose, lyrics by Leo Robin

Scoring of Musical Picture: Lou Forbes, Ray Heindorf

Oscar Awards: 1

Special Effects

Oscar Context:

John Fulton is better known for his visual effects for the “Invisible Man” film series and other horror movies at Universal.

The Sound Oscar went to Stephen Dunn for the popular film “The Bells of St. Mary’s.”  Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II won the Song Oscar for “IT Might As Well Be You,” from “State Fair.”  Georgie Stoll won the Scoring Oscar for the Gene Kelly vehicle, “Anchors Aweigh.”

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