Danny Kaye's 1952 musical Hans Christian Andersen is a light-hearted fable loosely based on the life of the author, depicting Hans spinning stories wherever he goes and inspiring people with them.
A few of the actual Hans Christian Andersen's stories make an appearance in the movie, and The Little Mermaid gets a particular point of honour as the expression of Hans' love for the ballerina Doro (Zizi Jeanmaire). In the film, Hans and his apprentice Peter have traveled from Odense to Copenhagen,where they stumble upon a ballet troupe lead by Doro. Hans witnesses Doro's husband, Niels, arguing with her and slapping her, and decides to write the story of The Little Mermaid in a letter to Doro in the hopes of showing her that she's with the wrong man.
Doro does get the letter and Niels, who is the choreographer for the troupe, develops a show out of it. Unfortunately, Hans completely misses the fact that Doro and Niels actually have a loving marriage, albeit a tempestuous one due to their careers, and that Doro treats Hans' story as simply a gift from a friend.
The film shows the ballet itself, too (sort of) with some clever stage props and a neat intrepretation that relies solely on dance and music to tell the story. It's also a nice little flip to have Hans imagining that Doro is the sad little mermaid, while it's actually him who's the little mermaid, projecting his hopes on Doro, his "prince", who's in love with another person.
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