Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The

US movie (1947). RKO/Goldwyn. Pr Samuel Goldwyn. Dir Norman Z McLeod. Spfx John Fulton. Screenplay Ken Englund, Everett Freeman. Based on "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (1932 New Yorker) by James Thurber. Starring Fay Bainter (Eunice Mitty), Boris Karloff (Dr Hugo Hollingshead), Danny Kaye (Walter Mitty), Virginia Mayo (Rosalind van Hoorn), Ann Rutherford (Gertrude Griswold), Konstantin Shayne (Peter van Hoorn/Krug). 108 mins. Colour.

Meek, mother-dominated pulp-magazine editor Mitty, to whom nothing ever seems to happen – his imminent marriage to Gertrude and her obnoxious poodle Queenie promises to bring more of the same – survives because of his Dreams of fantastic adventure, triggered by everyday events; e.g., a headline about an RAF fighter ace makes Mitty likewise, shooting down Germans in between enlivening the officers' mess with his brilliant impersonation acts. At the end of each dream he walks, alone and full of pathos, back into the real world. In all of them the same beautiful woman appears in one role or another; then, in the mundane Reality, Mitty encounters her (Rosalind) aboard his commuter train and plunges straight into a real-life jewel caper. TSLOWM travesties Thurber's story, where Mitty's utterly mundane life was counterpointed by his exotic fantasy existence. Considered as a Danny Kaye movie and in no other context, TSLOWM entertains for a while, but long outstays its welcome. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.