Me and the Colonel (1958) starring Danny Kaye, Curt Jurgens, Nicole Maurey
Me and the Colonel is a very different Danny Kaye comedy. It’s very funny, very entertaining, and highly recommended. But it’s also not what you normally expect from a Danny Kaye movie. There’s no singing or dancing, and the setting is much more serious – the invasion of Paris, France by Nazi Germany during World War II.
Synopsis of Me and the Colonel (1958) starring Danny Kaye, Curt Jurgens, Nicole Maurey
As the forces of Nazi Germany are preparing to overtake Paris, France during World War II, a timid Jewish man must join forces with a brave, impetuous Polish colonel to escape. If he can only get around the man’s antisemitism. Along the way, they rescue the Colonel’s fiancee, a French innkeeper’s daughter. Who begins to fall in love with both men.
Review of Me and the Colonel
Me and the Colonel is many things at the same time – a very funny comedy, a romance, what we would now call a “buddy” film, and a World War II film. It begins with a contrast between two of the central characters – S. L. Jacobowsky, played wonderfully by Danny Kaye, a Jewish man of Polish descent who has been living in Paris, France. And who has to move, once again, to escape the Nazi forces that are overrunning the country. Jacobowsky is intelligent, resourceful, cunning, and timid.
He is contrasted with a man of action, Colonel Prokoszny, played by Curt Jurgens. The colonel is a man who knows no fear, who charges first and thinks later. And a man in love with Suzanne, a French innkeeper’s daughter. Risking their lives to rescue the young woman, the three (along with the Colonel’s assistant, a minor role played wonderfully by Akim Tamiroff, not entirely for comic relief) they try to escape to the coast where the Colonel has to get “secret plans” to a waiting English submarine. This is made more difficult by the Colonel’s barely-disguised antisemitism.
Along the way, Danny Kaye’s character begins to fall in love with Suzanne. Also along the way, they begin to respect each other’s strengths. The Colonel’s often repeated phrase—“Less and less I am liking this Jacobowsky”—becomes repeated less frequently. Another contrast is between their views of the world – Jacobowsky’s often-repeated aphorism, ”In life, there are always two possibilities” begins to overshadow the Colonel’s view, that there can be but one possibility for a military man—honorable death.
Me and the Colonel is a wonderful film, that I recommend very highly. It’s a very funny film (although the humor is mostly verbal), as well as an exciting drama and romance at the same time. Sadly, at the time of this writing it’s not available on DVD, and that’s a crying shame—it’s earned a place on my list of favorite World War II movies. However, courtesy of YouTube, it’s available for viewing online. Be sure to check out the funny movie quotes from Me and the Colonel as well.
Trivia for Me and the Colonel
- Comedy melodrama about a humble Jew and an arrogant Polish colonel who sink personal differences while seeking escape from Nazi-occupied Paris. From the original play “Jacobowsky and the Colonel” by Frank Werfel and the American play by N.S. Behrman. …Me and the Colonel
- Danny Kaye won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his portrayal of Jacobowsky, the refugee.