|It may have made the poster, but it didn't make the movie. The image of Danny Kaye in this poster is straight from a Chinese restaurant scene deleted from the theatrical release of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.|
Needless to say, I was thrilled to notice the Warner Archives’ new pressing of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty contained several bonus features—the trailer, as well as an interview with Virginia Mayo. Ms. Mayo was very sweet when I interviewed her 30 years ago for Danny Kaye: King of Jesters, but perhaps a little too sweet. I could tell from the way she talked about Danny and especially Sylvia that she was holding back; I was convinced she held several more interesting memories that she wasn’t quite ready to share.
Perhaps this new DVD had the rest of the story? Alas, no. I already knew it wasn’t a new interview, since Ms. Mayo died nine years ago. But while she is lovely on the DVD, it isn’t really an interview, but rather a well-rehearsed, 90-second introduction of the cast and the sharing of a single, innocuous anecdote. I was disappointed, and reluctantly clicked the menu to view the trailer, expecting nothing more than a 30-second collection of clips from the movie.
Au contraire. My first hint that something special awaited me came early on, as the narrator announced, "Danny Kaye, eight times as funny in eight hilarious roles!" Eight? But the finished film contains only six dream Mitties plus his real-life seventh personality, mild-mannered Mitty. Number Eight must have been the fleeing gangster Walter O’Mitty, who sang “Molly Malone” in a deleted Irish Informant daydream.
You see, during its first pre-release previews in the spring of 1947, the film clocked in at two-and-a-half hours—far too long for a comedy. So the editors went to work whittling the movie down to one hour, 50 minutes. “Molly Malone” and a half-dozen other extended sequences ended up on the cutting room floor.
Evidently, the trailer that appears on the DVD was created during the previews and originally contained a brief shot of Walter O’Mitty. In its place, there’s now a rough, near-imperceptible cut (instead of a smooth dissolve) where the shot probably was intended to be (between Captain Mitty and Anatole).
But all was not lost. The final shot of the trailer is the intended ending of the western daydream, which did get cut from the movie—of Slim Mitty whalloping Toledo Tubby into a horse trough. (In the movie, the dream ends right before this, with Tubby on his knees, begging for mercy.)
And better yet, right before that scene the trailer contains quick snippets from the deleted Chinese restaurant scene. Boris Karloff and Henry “Lard Face” Corden are scowling in a restaurant booth, as they take back the black book from Danny. Lard Face then throws a knife at Danny, who dodges it with a look of terror on his face. (A still photo of this scene also appears on the back of the DVD sleeve and was used to produce the above theatrical poster.)
I had assumed that everything deleted from Mitty had been lost forever, so it’s wonderful that some of the footage has survived—even if it’s only a few seconds.