Me and the Colonel, starring Danny Kaye

Me and the Colonel

Me and the Colonel, starring Danny KayeMe 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 anti-Semitism.‚  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 decent who has been living in Paris, France—and who has to move, once again, to escape the Nazi forces that are overrunning the country.  He is intelligent, resourceful, cunning, and timid.  He is contrasted with a man of action, Colonel Prokoszny, played by Curt Jurgens—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, 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 anti-Semitism.

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, and 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 (after the move quotes below).

Funny movie quotes from‚ Me and the Colonel‚ starring Danny Kaye

Me and the Colonel DVD

S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): I packed my belongings in two trunks and moved to Prague, but the German army seemed to take absolute delight in following me.

S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): My mother, wise woman that she was, used to say no matter what happened in life, there are always two possibilities.

Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): It is not war that is awful, it is being out of it that is disgusting.
Cosette: Can’t I make you forget the war, just for a little while?
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): There is only one woman that can make me forget, she is written in my heart.  To her I shall always be faithful.
Cosette: Beginning when?
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): To the end of time!

Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): So now, child, get me vehicle.
Szabuniewicz (Akim Tamiroff): Yes, sir, veh … vehicle?
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): Get me automobile.  Get me plane.  Get me … motorcycle!  Get me donkey! But get me!
Szabuniewicz (Akim Tamiroff): Yes, sir.

Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): My suggestion is that you mind your own business.
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): Strangely enough, we’re in the same business—the business of escaping.
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): This fellow gets on my nerves.

Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): Hear me, Mr. Leibowitz.

Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): For me, that is the one possibility—honorable death!
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): What about honorable life?  Isn’t that a possibility?

S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): The Baron Rothschild—do you happen to know his address?

S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): I would like to take one of the Baron’s automobiles off his hands?
Chauffer: Do you have any proof of your relationship to the baron?
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): Certainly. [hands him a large wad of cash]

Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): I requisition this automobile!
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): Why Colonel, why do you have to requisition this automobile when we already have it?

S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): I bought this automobile for us.
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): You insist on using this intimate pronoun ‘us’!

S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): I understand perfectly.  The Colonel does not like Jews; he cannot help it, that’s the way it was brought up.  I am Jewish; I cannot help it, that’s the way I was brought up.

Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): Why did you sell me this automobile when you have no gasoline?
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): In the first place, I did not sell you this automobile, you confiscated it.  In the second place, who says I have no gasoline?
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): You have gasoline?
Szabuniewicz (Akim Tamiroff): Must have gasoline, must have Jacobowsky.
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): Less and less I like this Jacobowsky.

S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): The Colonel is an experienced driver?
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): I am in the cavalry.
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): The modern cavalry is motorized.
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): [driving poorly] Not in Poland.

Major Von Bergen (Alexander Scourby): Just as he described it, exactly.
Suzanne Roualet (Nicole Maurey): Who?
Major Von Bergen (Alexander Scourby): My father, he had several meals here when he visited France—in the first World War.

Suzanne Roualet (Nicole Maurey): After you have lost this war, come back and I will prepare you a gala dinner!
Major Von Bergen (Alexander Scourby):I’m afraid I can’t wait that long.

S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): Write down also in your head that the Polish government owes me for one heart in very weak condition, one wrecked nervous system, and, if the Germans catch me, one entire Jacobowsky.

Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): I do not think, I act.  A gun I shoot, woman I love, honor I defend.
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): Taken from the middle ages, as sure as the world is round.
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): Who says that?
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): Says what?
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): The world is round.
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): I don’t insist.  There is no doubt that you have one of the finest minds of the twelfth century.  Unfortunately, I live in the twentieth.

S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): Maybe you don’t want to live, but I do!
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): In your case, this desire is trivial.

Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): In the cathedral of my heart, a candle was always burning for you.
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): That must be the best-lit cathedral in Europe.

Szabuniewicz (Akim Tamiroff): Sure, Germans have put a price on his head.
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): At the rate we’re going, they’ll collect it.

Suzanne Roualet (Nicole Maurey): And there were no other women?
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): Especially when I am with other women, I feel lonely for you.
Suzanne Roualet (Nicole Maurey): And that is all you did when you were with them, think about me?
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): To every woman I am polite.

Suzanne Roualet (Nicole Maurey): How did you get gasoline?
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): For centuries, alchemists have been trying to turn lead into gold.  I have done one better—I have turned vodka into gasoline.
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): [outraged] You gave away my vodka!
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): Please, Colonel, you must be philosophical about this.  A car cannot run without gasoline, but a man can run without vodka.

S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): I know I am a superfluous man, but even a superfluous man wants to go on being … superfluous.

Suzanne Roualet (Nicole Maurey): You would not believe some of the things he [Jacobowsky] has done to survive.
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): I believe it; I am not sure it was worth the effort.

Suzanne Roualet (Nicole Maurey): Where is Jacobowsky?
Szabuniewicz (Akim Tamiroff): I don’t know; I lost him.
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): Well done, Corporal.

S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): My mother, God rest her soul, was a wonderful cook.  Out of nothing she could make, absolutely something.

Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): What weapons do you prefer?
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): No preference, I dislike them all.

S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye):  There is a time for advance, and for retreat.  This is the uniform for retreat; I know, I’ve worn it all my life.

Major Von Bergen (Alexander Scourby): Such chutzpah you must have learned from a Jacobowsky.

S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): When your feet hurt, sometimes it is easier to forget the pain in your heart.

Nun: My passenger, I am sorry to see you here.
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): I myself am not exactly overjoyed.

Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): To capture us, they will find it very expensive!
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): Yes, but they can afford it.

Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): That’s tactic.  Tactic, I leave to my staff officer.  Samuel, I hereby appoint you as my staff officer.
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): Thanks for the promotion.
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): Oh, you’ve earned it!

Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): You are thinking?
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): I am paralyzed.
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): That not like you, Samuel.  Two heads are better than one, especially when one of them is Jacobowsky.

S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): In the synagogue of my heart, a candle will always burn for you.

Suzanne Roualet (Nicole Maurey): Come back soon, both of you, my two possibilities!

Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): My papers! In my confusion, I left them behind! I must die!
S. L. Jacobowsky (Danny Kaye): [handing him the papers] That would be premature.
Colonel Prokoszny (Curt Jürgens): More and more I am liking this Jacobowsky.

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 ‘œJacobowsky 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.

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