Wednesday, February 5, 2014

3 Danny Kaye Movies You’ve Never Heard Of—But May Have Seen

Have you ever seen Danny Kaye in The Ladies Have Charms?

The Ladies Have Charms?

Running Risks?

Blind Man’s Bluff?

Even the biggest Danny Kaye fan probably has never even heard of these movies. Yet there’s a chance you’ve seen them—under a different name.

In the 1960s, there was no home video market. No DVDs. No VHS. (And limited options for viewing old movies on TV.) So people who wanted to collect movies had to buy actual films and their own film projector—either a giant 16mm contraption (like the rickety Bell & Howell your gradeschool used to have) or a more modestly sized, yet silent 8mm projector.

While these home projectors were typically purchased for viewing families’ home movies, there was also a small market for Hollywood-produced films, which distributors sold through catalogs and certain retail stores. (When I was a kid, the local Kmart used to stock several dozen titles.)

Since film was expensive and most home projectors could accommodate reels of limited size, many of the films offered for sale were black-and-white and either shorts (like vintage comedies, cartoons or newsreels) or cut-downs of longer movies. If a movies wasn’t well known, the distributor would usually rename its abridgement to something it thought sounded snappier (which also allowed it to create multiple different releases from a single feature).

So in the late 1960s, U.K. distributor Walton Films got the rights to release a number of Educational shorts from the 1930s, including those starring Danny Kaye as a manic Russian.

Getting an Eyeful (Danny visits a sadistic eye doctor) was retitled Blind Man’s Bluff. Cupid Takes a Holiday (Danny must find a bride) was renamed The Ladies Have Charms. And, Money on Your Life (Danny flees from hit men) became Running Risks.

They were sold in nearly complete sound versions in 16mm (as much as would fit on a 400-foot reel) and chopped down to four minutes and silent in 8mm (on 50-foot reels).

The originals are all available for viewing on the Library of Congress’ Danny Kaye & Sylvia Fine website—in their unadulterated, correctly titled state.


  1. Really interesting, David. Thanks for this historical info.. :)

  2. I've just popped a recording of my 8mm copy on youtube :-)

  3. Toby, This is great! Thank you so much for sharing.