Editorial Review of On the Riviera (1951) starring Danny Kaye, Gene Tierney, Corinne Calvet, courtesy of Amazon.com
Just as Love Affair inspired An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in Seattle, Folies Bergere inspired That Night in Rio and On the Riviera. In Walter Lang’s Technicolor version, Danny Kaye takes on a dual role previously assumed by Maurice Chevalier and Don Ameche. A master of mistaken identity, Kaye makes it his own. His Jack Martin is an American song and dance man based in Monte Carlo. When playboy aviator Henri Duran (Kaye with French accent) returns from his latest adventure, Martin notices a resemblance. He also notices Duran’s neglected wife, Lili (Gene Tierney). After Duran is called away on business, Martin is enlisted to impersonate him for an important function. That gives him the chance to cozy up to Lili–and infuriate dance partner Colette (Corinne Calvet). Duran pays him back with an impersonation of his own. It isn’t Twelfth Night, but On the Riviera is an enjoyable diversion. It also represents a family affair, since designer Oleg Cassini outfitted wife Tierney and Sylvia Fine penned tunes for husband Kaye (except for the standard “Ballin’ the Jack”). Though considered a minor effort in the canons of Lang and Kaye–the musical was more of an audience favorite than a critical darling–Fox has done right by this long-unavailable title with an interactive press book, featurettes, lobby cards, and a pristine print (heavy on the brilliant blues). Look sharp for future Fosse hoofer (and wife) Gwen Verdon as a dancer and Tierney’s famous Laura portrait above Duran’s fireplace. —Kathleen C. Fennessy
Description of On the Riviera starring Danny Kaye, Gene Tierney, Corinne Calvet
Jack Martin (Danny Kaye), an American entertainer working cabarets on the French Riviera, does an impersonation of philandering industrialist Henri Duran (Kaye, again) so convincingly that even Duran’s beautiful wife (Gene Tierney) is fooled by it. When Duran’s business interests compel him to be in London when he should be hosting a large soiree at his home, Martin is persuaded to impersonate Duran at the party. But matters threaten to get out of hand when Martin (as Duran) is confronted by several of the philanderer’s women, and by Duran’s ruthless business rival, M. Periton (Jean Murat).