This biopic of the Danish writer is completely fabricated to resemble several of his own fairytales. As the author goes through life there's unrequited love and a lack of recognition for his talent, all the while the stories keep coming.
Danny Kaye is sweetly sincere as Denmark's celebrated tale-teller, but he's stranded in sugarland without comic situations to riff on. And while Frank Loesser's melodic songs are endearingly memorable, the totally ficticious, cornball account of Andersen's life is disappointingly weak.
Here, Andersen's unrequited love for a ballerina (dainty French dance legend Zizi Jeanmaire) is the flimsy framework supporting the fantasies and fables he spins in song. Highlights have a touching simplicity (The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina) that beat the elaborate 15-minute piece de resistance, The Little Mermaid ballet.
It's old and sweet - but that second part is the problem. There's really no meat on the story, and Danny Kaye has few places to go with his characterisation.