The Bob Hope Collection – Volume 2
2011, Shout! Factory
Since I’ve made if my life mission to own every Bob Hope movie, Shout! Factory’s second volume of The Bob Hope Collection was a great addition to my own collection. Six movies and five of them I had never seen (I already owned (Son of Paleface on DVD). Sadly, this is another collection of public domain flicks and some of Hope’s lesser known films other than the Paleface sequel.
Shout! Factory claims these are high-definition transfers but I’ve seen reviews stating this is not true though other reviews say they have been cleaned up considerably compared to other versions floating around. The Great Lover is a poor transfer but maybe that was the best Shout had to work with. Everything else looks very good to my eyes with The Private Navy of Sgt. O’ Farrell looking the best of the bunch.
The Great Lover
(1949, Paramount Pictures)
This film had the working title of My Favorite Redhead which would’ve placed it as the third film in Hope’s My Favorite… series (that honor eventually went to 1951′s My Favorite Spy). Easy Does It was another working title. It was written by Ed Beloin who I’ve already mentioned before was a writer for Jack Benny’s radio program but by this point he had left radio behind for a career as a screenwriter.
There’s something a bit off about this movie. I can’t quite place it. Bob does well but the whole premise isn’t very interesting to me and there just aren’t many funny scenes. Bob plays a scout leader on a cruise with his troops and he finds himself getting mixed up with a beautiful redhead and a murderer.
It didn’t help that the transfer is very poor and that took some of the enjoyment out of the movie for me. The movie’s title doesn’t really make much sense either. B-level effort all around.
The best part of the movie for me was seeing a cameo by Jack Benny. This was my first time seeing the movie so it completely caught me off guard. Jack & Bob have a hilarious moment over a $20 bill. Two years before taking the role of Superman on television, George Reeves has a small part in the movie as well.
(1959, United Artists)
Paris Holiday was a pet project of Bob’s. He came up the story idea, was executive producer and wanted it to be a showcase for himself and popular French comedian Fernandel. Even with the talented Ed Beloin getting a co-writing credit, there’s not much to report about this movie. Fernandel apparently knew very little English so his character doesn’t really add much to this comedy-thriller other than wild facial expressions.
True to Bob’s intentions, both actors were showcased. The story revolves around Hope as movie star visiting France in order to secure the rights to a movie script. He ends up getting mixed up with a criminal organization that are after some important documents but Fernandel has a few scenes of his own to strut his stuff and basically acts as an accomplice to Hope’s character throughout the movie
I guess there were hopes that this movie was going to be a success because although it does have an ending there is a twist at the end to let you know that members of the crime ring are still at large and the movie ends with “The End ?”
There’s a few zany acts of physical comedy but the movie falls flat overall and as I’ve said before, at this point, Bob should’ve been acting more age appropriate and not still lusting after and falling in love with young women.
The Private Navy of Sgt. O’Farrell
(1968, United Artists)
This is one of Bob’s better movies from the second half of his career and it’s pretty surprising because this was his third-to-last starring theatrical role. His movies by this point were getting to be very hit-or-miss.
Hope plays a sergeant in the army stationed out on a Pacific island during WWII. The Japanese had sunk a ship carry supplies (beer, most importantly) and in order to improve morale Bob go to where the ship was sunk and get the beer for the rest of the boys.
Although it’s tough to buy Bob as a sergeant in the military at the age of 65, at least he’s not still skirt-chasing young women. It’s a refreshing change of pace to see Hope play a heroic and somewhat mature and more intelligent (yet still funny) character. A movie like this would’ve been ripe for Hope to partake in back in the ’40s as well but you’d have to make him a skirt-chasing coward during that decade.
The cast on this one is pretty good. Even Phyllis Diller (who I can’t stand) does well in her role and luckily she’s not much of a main character. I wasn’t expecting any good to come of this movie but it’s an enjoyable late Hope comedy and this particular print is as beautiful as Gina Lollobrigada in a floral bikini sitting on a Hawaiian beach.
There’s a couple of funny jabs at Bing Crosby in this one.
Directed by Frank Tashlin, who also directed Bob in Son of Paleface.
How To Commit Marriage
(1969, Cinerama Releasing Corp.)
Of all the Bob Hope movies I’ve seen, How To Commit Marriage is the second-to-worst and it was also the second-to-last feature for Bob and it was an independent release. By this point, Hope’s movie career was in serious decline and he was having trouble scoring roles and financing for movies. You really could’ve placed anyone in Bob’s role here because with some of Hope’s later movies you lose the feeling that you are watching a “Bob Hope movie” as opposed to it simply being “a movie starring Bob Hope”.
Most of this movie is played as a sophisticated comedy (other than Gleason’s chewing on the scenery and some old-school Hope humor towards the end) that deals with love, sex, drugs and the generation gap but it’s just soooooooooooo dated with the music and the hippies and the guru philosophy and free love ideas. I don’t know how Bob felt about doing this movie but as a huge Bob Hope fan, I can’t imagine he was proud of this effort.
Son of Paleface
(1952, Paramount Pictures)
Son of Paleface is an absolute classic Bob Hope movie and is the crown jewel in this whole collection. It’s often been said this sequel is even better than The Paleface itself but I think they are on equal ground.
Everything you could want is here. It’s that classic Bob Hope role of being the bumbling girl crazy fool who thinks he’s smarter, stronger, braver and sexier than he actually is.
I already owned this on DVD but its inclusion in this set certainly helps improve the collection’s overall appeal.
Cancel My Reservation
(1972, Warner Bros.)
The end of Hope’s leading man career. After this movie was released, he made only two cameos on the big screen (The Muppet Movie in 1979 and Spies Like Us in 1985) and then starred in the made-for-TV movie A Masterpiece of Murder in 1986 with Don Ameche.
What a way to go. This movie is terrible. Even the theme song is absolutely terrible. Pure ’70s soul/funk/pop garbage that’s trying to come off as The Jackson Five. It’s a weird mix of zaniness plus murder mystery and it doesn’t quiet balance out like some of Hope’s previous mystery-thrillers did. It doesn’t help that we’re supposed to believe Hope’s character is 42 years old when in truth Hope himself was 69 years old!
They made an honest attempt to capture some of the slapstick humor that had been a trademark of Bob’s movies (while taking more digs at Bing Crosby in the process) but the magic was gone by this point. Bob does a decent joke but the script is terrible and this was not the right type of role for him nearing 70 years old.
The movie’s real saving grace is the gorgeous Anne Archer. No, Bob isn’t lusting after her. He’s married to Eva Marie Saint in this one. Bob & Eva had previously been paired up in That Certain Feeling (1956).
It’s really sad this was Bob’s final movie.
It’s really hard to recommend this set to anyone other than the hardcore Bob Hope fan. I’ve been trying to acquire all of Hope’s movies for quite some time so picking this collection up for a no-brainer for me. For anyone else that is a casual Hope fan and prefers his wise-cracking ways from the Road movies with Crosby, I suggest you stay away because there’s really only one classic here and the rest ranges from passable to poor.