Some of the deepest-dyed Thurber fans may squeal since there’s naturally considerable change from the famed short story on which the screenplay is built. There’s a basic switch in the plot that has been concocted around the Mitty daydreams. Thurber’s whole conception of Mitty was an inconsequential fellow from Perth Amboy, NJ, to whom nothing – but nothing – ever happened and who, as a result, lived a ‘secret life’ via his excursions into daydreaming. In contrast, the picture builds a spy-plot around Mitty that is more fantastic than even his wildest dream.
Danny Kaye reveals a greater smoothness and polish thespically and a perfection of timing in his slapstick than has ever been evident in the past.
Exceedingly slick job is done on the segues from the real-life Mitty into the dream sequences. Mitty’s fantasies carry him through sessions as a sea captain taking his schooner through a storm, a surgeon performing a next-to-impossible operation, an RAF pilot, a Mississippi gambler, a cowpuncher and a hat designer. They’re all well-loaded with satire, as is the real-life plot with pure slapstick.
Virginia Mayo is the beautiful vis-a-vis in both the real-life spy plot, and the dreams. She comes a commendable distance thespically in this picture. Karloff wins heftiest yaks in a scene in which he plays a phony psychiatrist convincing Mitty he’s nuts.