On the Double (film)

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On the Double
On the Double 1961.jpg
1961 movie poster
Directed by Melville Shavelson
Produced by Jack Rose
Written by Melville Shavelson
Jack Rose
Starring Danny Kaye
Dana Wynter
Wilfrid Hyde-White
Margaret Rutherford
Diana Dors
Music by Leith Stevens
Cinematography Harry Stradling
Geoffrey Unsworth
Edited by Frank Bracht
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • May 19, 1961 (1961-05-19)
Running time
92 min
Country United States
Language English

On The Double is a 1961 film, directed by Melville Shavelson, who also wrote the screenplay with Jack Rose. It stars Danny Kaye who plays, as in many of his films, two roles — in this case, an American soldier and a British General.


In 1944, Ernie Williams (Danny Kaye), a most reluctant American soldier is trapped in an Allied army camp in southeast England, with his leave of absence revoked. A hypochondriac and a coward, Ernie is also a superb mimic. He is persuaded to impersonate the commander, General Sir Lawrence MacKenzie Smith, to go AWOL, but does not get further than the gate. Under the threat of court-martial, Colonel Somerset (Wilfrid Hyde-White) of military intelligence recruits Ernie as the General's political decoy, in order to thwart a plot to assassinate the General. The situation turns for the worse when the enemy inadvertently shoots down a plane carrying the real General, killing him.

Ernie is unable to fool the General's wife, Lady Margaret (Dana Wynter), but he is able to deceive the officers at a regimental party. On her advice, and to further the deceit, he appears to get drunk and have a fight with his wife. His hard-drinking Scottish aunt, Lady Vivian (Margaret Rutherford) is highly suspicious, but is too drunk to take it further.

That night, Ernie is kidnapped and taken to Berlin by German agents, who turn out to be Sergeant Stanhope (Diana Dors), one of the General's mistresses, and Captain Patterson (Allan Cuthbertson). Ernie manages to confuse the German interrogators, who want information about Normandy landings and would rather accept arrant nonsense about non-existent operations and places instead of the truth that he is a decoy. In the resultant confusion, he manages to escape and is chased through the streets of Berlin at night. He takes on several comic disguises to throw off his pursuers and hides in a nightclub, but is forced to perform a cabaret act as Fraulein Lilli (copied from Lola-Lola in The Blue Angel). Finally, disguised as a pilot, he boards a German bomber and manages to parachute out over England. Captured, and about to be shot as a spy, he is rescued at the last moment by Somerset.

Ernie and Margaret profess their love for each other.


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