"The book is a film that takes place in the mind of the reader." ~ Paulo Coelho

Monday, June 21, 2021

Older vs. Newer Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Happy summer, late Emancipation Day, and late Father's Day, all in one!

Itʼs been a hot second since Iʼve done one of my famous Older vs. Newer reviews, hasnʼt it? Even with that these two movies I'm talking about today are based on the same short story but are very different from each other in other aspects. Iʼve been daydreaming about these two movies while working so I am here to put my thoughts down for you all to read. I hope that you enjoy!

My guarantee: On ALL of my reviews there are NO spoilers unless I give you warning. Both of these reviews are completely free of any spoilers!

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947):
Based on:
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - by James Thurber.
“You werenʼt thinking at all, you were daydreaming!”
Much to his boss and his motherʼs annoyance, the thing that Walter Mitty does best is daydream. They badger him about it, wishing he would stop and pay attention to the world. For Walter, none of his life is interesting, but whatʼs in his head is where he can be a hero. When he runs into a girl who looks exactly like a person who is frequently in his imagination he gets wrapped up in a crime scheme. He wants to help Rosalind but now everyone is trying to convince him that he is going insane. Has he made it all up? 
ʻ“The minute youʼre killed the FBI will double their efforts.” 
“Oh, thatʼs very reassuring.”'
Comedy, Family.
Length: approx. 110 minutes.
Script: 10. No bad words that I marked down!
ʻ“Whatʼs that awful smell?”
“Itʼs the cologne you gave me for Christmas.” 
“Itʼs lovely, isnʼt?”ʼ
Crew: Directed by: Norman Z. McLeod. Written by: Ken Englund, Everett Freeman, and Philip Rapp based on a short story by James Thurber.
Danny Kaye as Walter Mitty.
“Mitty, when I need your help Iʼll ask for it.”
Looking quite dapper, Mr. Mitty.
Virginia Mayo as Rosalind van Hoorn.
Fay Bainter as Mrs. Eunice Mitty.
Ann Rutherford as Gertrude Griswold.
Gordon Jones as Tubby Wadsworth.
Florence Bates as Mrs. Irma Griswold.
Boris Karloff as Dr. Hugo Hollingshead.
Konstantin Shayne as Peter van Hoorn.
Thurston Hall as Bruce Pierce.
Reginald Denny as Colonel.
Henry Corden as Hendrick.
Doris Lloyd as Mrs. Leticia Follinsbee.
Fritz Feld as Anatole.
Frank Reicher as Karl Maasdam.
Milton Parsons as Butler Tyler.
The Goldwyn Girls as Dancing Ensemble.
Costumes: 8. Some events involve womenʼs undergarments which made me roll my eyes. At one point there was this bizarre hat that resembled leaves and I couldnʼt stop laughing simply because it was so odd.
See? What DO you call that hat?
10. I thought it was very fun! The settings and things that prompted each of the daydreams were so fun! My favorite was this gambling on the Mississippi dream that involved lots of bubbles. It was so fun and whimsical! It reminded me of The Wizard of Oz (1938), but it was definitely its own thing. And the opening credits were fun!
Cinematography by: Lee Garmes.
Just give me bubbles and I'm happy.
7. Danny Kaye sings one song (of course! Because itʼs Danny Kaye!) but I donʼt remember any specific background score of any kind.
Music by: David Raksin.
Notes: It was fun to spot references in the stories mentioned and to specific places like Yellowstone.
Quotability: N/A. This is a hard category because I never quote movies unless my sisters have seen it to because or else I have no one to say it to who would understand. Nevertheless, there were good lines throughout!
“The only exercise you ever get is jumping to conclusions.”
8. Walter works at a "racy" and "raunchy" magazine so there are some intense story ideas that get talked about and there are some strange posters on the wall, but nothing truly shocking. It's a very small detail. There is also smoking and murder, but not shown in a positive light. 
Originality: 10! It is so fun and imaginative, if you forgive my pun. Walter is such a sweet character who really helps the story along. All six stories in his head that I counted are unique, inventive, and amusing. I'm impressed! I already talked about my favorite imagined scene because of the cinematography, but another favorite was one with a Western flair.
Good For:
any Danny Kaye fans, anyone who loves to imagine stories and daydream.
Age Range: This is perfectly acceptable for all and any ages and is enjoyable, too! Young and old alike would like the circumstances and dreams that Walter finds himself in.
Overall Score: 9.
Worth watching?:
Certainly! My dad got me to watch this and I'm glad he did. Danny Kaye is always a joy to watch and as an introvert I related a lot to him here. I actually noted merely four minutes in how similar we are. My mind wanders more often that I care to admit so it was fun to see someone else doing it. I'm not alone!
Will I watch again?: Yes! Both of my sisters are big Danny Kaye fans so I want to see it with them sometime and see what they think.
ʻ“You have a good face.”
“Uh, well, you have a good one, too...'ʼ
He has a mix between a worried and a dreamy face right here.
(Completely irrelevant information that I still think is fun, is that I saw this the same day that I saw the first episode in the first season of Julie and the Phantoms. Any of my readers who have stuck around for a few months know how attached I am to that show...)


The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013):
Based on:
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - by James Thurber.
Life magazine is shutting down and the workers are planning the final edition. Though they have never met, Walter Mitty has a friendship with Sean OʼConnell, the famous photographer. Sean has chosen the last cover photo for Life, but the picture that he wants to use is missing from the selections he sent Walter. Walter is always dreaming of being an exciting person but now he gets a chance to do extraordinary things as he travels the globe looking for Sean, to ask for a new copy of the picture. His only clues of Seanʼs whereabouts are the other pictures that he sent. Walter wants to tell a coworker, Cheryl, how he feels before they wonʼt be working together again. Will he find Sean OʼConnell while there is still time to print the magazine?
Adventure, Drama, 
Length: approx. 114 minutes.
Script: 6. A name in vain is used quite a few times. In addition to that there is some mild name calling.
“If I threw a paper clip do you think he would move?”
Crew: Directed by: Ben Stiller. Written by: Steve Conrad based on the short story by James Thurber.
Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty.
“Hey, dream machine.”
Kristen Wiig as Cheryl Melhoff.
Adam Scott as Ted Hendricks.
Kathryn Hahn as Odessa Mitty.
Shirley MacLaine as Edna Mitty.
Patton Oswalt as Todd Maher.
Sean Penn as Sean O'Connell.
Marcus Antturi as Rich Melhoff.
Jonathan C. Daly as Tim Naughton.
Terence Bernie Hines as Gary Mannheim.
Adrian Martinez as Hernando.
Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as Helicopter Pilot.
Kai Lennox as Phil Melhoff.
Gary Wilmes as Walter's Dad.
Joey Slotnick as Retirement Home Administrator.
Paul Fitzgerald as Don Proctor.
Thornhallur Sigurdsson as Trawler Captain.
Cameos from Conan O'Brien, Andy Richter, and Craig Castaldo (Radio Man). 
Costumes: 8. Nothing specific, but just normal clothing that works perfectly fine.
Cinematography: 10. This movie explores photography and capturing life, so there are a lot of neat shots! It feels like an independent film in cinematography with very good quality. It shows some cool places in the world which makes you want to travel and see them yourself.
Cinematography by:
Stuart Dryburgh. 
Music: 8. The songs on the soundtrack all have the same feeling, but it was very relaxing to listen to while typing this up. It helps amplify the feeling of the movie perfectly.
Music by: Theodore Shapiro.
Notes: There are references to both Indiana Jones and Harry Potter which were very well timed. I just learned that this film created over 15,000 jobs, which is really cool!
8. There were some great lines! Although it may be what everyone else says, my favorite was this one:
“Beautiful things donʼt ask for attention.”
Content: 9. Brief mentions of a strip club and cheating, and one character is divorced. Very clean which pleases me a lot!
Originality: 10. There were some things that I saw coming but that isn't bad! My sister didn't see it at all and was very surprised so it wasn't predictable (unless you're used to seeing this kind of movie like I am) and just had good foreshadowing. It's very satisfying! It was a rollicking good time!
Good For: anyone who loves photography, anyone who loves to daydream, anyone who wants to travel and have adventures.
Age Range: This movie is very profound and I know I wouldn't have understood it if I was under 10 when I watched it. I still would've liked it, but just not gotten everything out of it. Besides the few things I mentioned content-wise, it is fine for any age. I feel that older people would especially enjoy it and absorb all of the meaning.
Overall Score: 9.
Worth watching?:
Almost any movie that makes me cry is worth watching, and this certainly did that. In the weirdest way, I feel more fulfilled after watching it? It is a movie that expresses the joy of life.
Will I watch again?: Yes! It had great messages and was funny which is a win-win. My older sister hasn't seen it and I think that she would really dig it, so I want to show it to her sometime.

For the blogathon:
These reviews are my entry in the Midsummer Dream Blogathon hosted by Pure Entertainment Preservation Society! This is the solstice and one of the most famous stories about this day is A Midsummer Night's Dream - by William Shakespeare. That is where Tiffany and Rebekah drew their inspiration! The girls have been very gracious and are letting me post this a day late because I wasn't able to before.

This blogathon is about everything relating to dreams in film. Walter Mitty has the most dreams that I've seen in a movie in a long time so it fits!

I love the light that dreams are given in both of these movies! The message is that life is out there for you to enjoy and experience, but dreaming isn't bad. Sometimes it can be a distraction like when Walter's mind wanders while he's driving or when he burns himself in the 1947 version, but it also can be an inspiration. In one scene in the 2013 version Walter has hit a wall. He has a clue to where he should look next, but is burnt out on adventures. A daydream gives him the courage to press forward!

Comparison of 1947 VS. 2013:

As I said in my introduction, these films don't have much in common besides the basic idea. From what I gathered, the only connections are a character named Walter Mitty who lives more in his head than anywhere else and how he is thrust into an adventure where he has to look for something. They were different, but both brilliant! Which is a rare thing for me to say! Both were excellent. I loved how much the Danny Kaye version made me laugh because of all the scraps he got into. His journey to being brave is marvelous. The Ben Stiller version has such a wonderful beauty to it. It has everything that you could want: humor, journeys, and LIFE. I like especially the storyline in the 2013 version of how Walter keeps talking on the phone to a guy from eHarmony to fill out a dating profile. It was a good contrast to see how he thought that he hadn't ever done anything in his life. I also enjoyed diving into his backstory. In preparation for this review I read the short story that this is based on and the 1947 is closer. It took everything that happened (changing Mrs. Mitty into his mother) and expanded on it, including the catchy "ta pocketa-pocketa-pocketa". Seeing how the story could still apply to modern life in the 2013 version was thought-provoking. I recommend both versions for you to judge which one you like better for yourself! I might be leaning more towards the 2013 version because it made me cry, which, strangely enough, will usually make me love something even more. Though it's hard to beat the king of comedy himself, Danny Kaye...

Thanks to the Brannans for hosting! Check out the other entries HERE. This was great fun! I'm sorry for my once again disjunct schedule, but it's summer and I can't stop dreaming.

Thanks to all of you for reading! This is from a different movie, but I'm going to say it anyway: Adventure is out there!



  1. I really like the Danny Kaye version, and I'd like to see the newer one. James Thurber is a favorite of mine, and this story of his is justly considered a classic :-) Great comparison post!

    1. Hamlette, I think you'd really dig the newer version! It makes life so fresh and exciting and ready to explore. I actually first heard about the Danny Kaye version through you, so thanks for that! I should read more James Thurber. Thank you! :-)

  2. I love how both versions have so much to offer in different ways. It's not even like the 2013 version is a remake, it's just a different story altogether with some of the same themes. Both are fun and inspiring and I really need to get my sister to watch the 2013 version with me. She's seen the 1947 version with DK and enjoys it, but I think she would really love the 2013 version. We were in Iceland on a layover once and didn't see much of anything but fog and icy rain. It would be fun for her to see more of the actual country. Great comparison!

    1. Exactly! Though I do fall in the category of loving remakes, I love them even more when it isn't just a "carbon copy" of the original, YET, it keeps the same theme. The inspiration in each makes me want to just run out the door into an adventure! That's so neat that you and your sister were in Iceland, even for such a short time! When you get her to see it it will be an even stronger connection! I need to get both of my sisters to watch the DK version, and get my older sister to see the 2013 version, then they can love it, too! Aww, thank you so much, Carissa! It's so good to hear from you again!

  3. Haven't seen either of these, but they sound really good.

    1. I really recommend the 2013 for you, but both are excellent!

  4. We grew up with the Danny Kaye version in which he played a great role! I remember some things I could have done without, but still I remember enjoying it! I didn't care for the newer version, but the cinematography was really, really cool.

    1. Growing up with Danny Kaye movies was big in my house, too, so I'm surprised we missed this one! It is very enjoyable. My sisters sometimes get annoyed when I get wrapped up in really technical aspects of movies, but I could talk about the cinematography of the 2013 movie for hours!

    2. Yes, the cinematography of the 2013 was absolutely incredible! Totally!
      On another note....what's your favorite Cary Grant film?? Or two? Grace and I are the only ones in the house right now that like his movies. :) We really liked Bringing up Baby, and I like His Girl Friday, and we started Arsenic and Old Lace which was absolutely terrifying:)...


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"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, where you stop your story." -Orson Welles