Bob Hope: Classic Comedy Collection [4 Discs] [DVD]

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Special Features

  • Entertaining the troops
  • Command performance 1944
  • Command performance 1945
  • Hollywood victory caravan


Sorrowful Jones
This second of four film adaptations of Damon Runyon's Little Miss Marker is tailored to the talents of Bob Hope. A shifty Broadway bookie, Sorrowful Jones (Hope) becomes a reluctant foster parent when an anxious gambler leaves behind his little girl Martha Jane (Mary Jane Saunders) as a "marker," or IOU. When the father is killed by mobster Big Steve Holloway (Bruce Cabot), Sorrowful decides to hide Martha Jane from the authorities, lest the poor girl get tossed in an orphanage. Lucille Ball co-stars as Sorrowful's erstwhile girlfriend Gladys, who along with Mary Jane is instrumental in "reforming" the cynical Jones. The climactic scenes, wherein Sorrowful tries to smuggle a horse into a hospital in order to bring the little girl out of a coma, deftly combines slapstick with pathos. A remake of 1934's Little Miss Marker, which starred Shirley Temple in the title role, Sorrowful Jones was itself remade in 1962 as the Tony Curtis vehicle Who's Got the Action; it was filmed again in 1980, once more as Little Miss Marker, with Curtis as the villain and Walter Matthau in the Bob Hope role. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Ghost Breakers
Paramount followed up its successful Bob Hope/Paulette Goddard co-starrer The Cat and the Canary (1939) by warming up another venerable "old dark house" stage play, Paul Dickey and Charles Goddard's The Ghost Breaker, pluralizing the title to accommodate both stars. This time Hope plays radio personality Lawrence L. Lawrence (the middle initial stands for Lawrence: "My folks had no imagination") who has to flee New York to avoid being mistakenly arrested for murder. He and his manservant Alex (Willie Best) book passage on a Cuba-bound liner, where they meet lovely heiress Mary Carter (Paulette Goddard). She is heading to Cuba to take charge of her ancestral mansion, despite warnings from several sinister characters that to enter this "haunted" house will mean certain death. Appointing himself Mary's protector, Lawrence investigates the mansion on his own, thereby crossing the path of a zombie (Noble Johnson) and an apparently genuine ghost. He also meets the twin brother of the man he's accused of killing (Anthony Quinn), who seems the most likely suspect when Mary nearly comes to harm. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Thanks for the Memory
The popularity of both Bob Hope and the sentimental tune "Thanks for the Memory" by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin in The Big Broadcast of 1938 led to this plodding little domestic comedy-drama in which Hope plays a stay-at-home author and Shirley Ross his working wife. The situation is, of course, ripe for misunderstandings, and soon each spouse accuses the other of infidelity, with everything neatly solved in the final reel. In addition to the title tune, Hope and Ross also perform Hoagy Carmichael and Frank Loesser's "Two Sleepy People." The film was an unofficial remake of the 1931 production Up Pops the Devil. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Never Say Die
Bob Hope and an all-star cast have great fun in this frothy romantic comedy about a wealthy tycoon who learns that he only has one month left to live. Not realizing that the tests were wrong, he decides to make hay while the sun still shines. He dumps his fiancee and then heads for the lovely Bad Gaswasser Spa in Switzerland. There he meets a young heiress who is being forced to marry a prince rather than the bus driver she loves. Taking pity on her and having nothing to lose, he marries her and plans to leave her his fortune so she will be free to marry anyone she wants. During their honeymoon, on which the bus driver accompanies them, the groom learns that he will live. Unfortunately for the bus driver, true romance has bloomed between the newlyweds. Of course they don't find this out until a little later. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Caught in the Draft
Bob Hope plays a famous movie star who does his best to avoid the pre-war draft, but ends up in uniform all the same. Hope marries Dorothy Lamour, the daughter of Army colonel Clarence Kolb, in hopes that this union will help him sidestep military service. Stuck in boot camp, Hope is a class-A screw-up until redeeming himself during a sham battle--though his "heroic" commandeering of a tank began as yet another boo-boo. Still not entirely certain that Hope could carry a film by himself, Paramount teamed him with Eddie Bracken and Lynne Overman--a sort of Abbott and Costello plus One. Despite the efforts to make Bob Hope part of an ensemble, it is clear from the first frame to the last who is truly the star of Caught in the Draft. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

My Favorite Blonde
Each of Bob Hope's "My Favorite" films (My Favorite Blonde, My Favorite Brunette, My Favorite Spy) was, by accident or design, a parody of a dead-serious movie genre. 1942's My Favorite Blonde, for example, was a takeoff of Alfred Hitchcock in general and Hitchcock's 39 Steps in particular. Two-bit vaudeville entertainer Hope gets mixed up with gorgeous blonde British-spy Madeline Carroll. The "maguffin" (Hitchcock's nickname for "gimmick") which ties the two stars together is a ring which contains the microfilmed plans for a revolutionary new bomber. Hope and Carroll are forced to take it on the lam when Hope is framed for murder by Nazi-agents Gale Sondergaard, George Zucco et. al. Highlights include Hope eluding capture by impersonating a famed psychologist (watch for Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer as Hope's most contentious "patient"). Madeline Carroll also got several opportunities to shine comedically, especially when she lapsed into cloying baby talk while posing as Hope's wife. Bob Hope was hesitant to work with My Favorite Blonde director Sidney Lanfield, having heard of Lanfield's reputation as an on-set dictator. However, the two got along so swimmingly that they would collaborate on such future top-notch Hope farces as Let's Face It (1943) and The Lemon Drop Kid (1951). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Cat and the Canary
The classic "old dark house" motif is given sterling treatment in this second filmed version of the hit play. Bob Hope's status as a star was assured with his role as Wallie Campbell, the cowardly protector of Joyce Norman (Paulette Goddard), who must spend one night in the eerie mansion of her late, eccentric, millionaire uncle. If she can make it through the night without losing her mind, Joyce stands to inherit her uncle's entire fortune. Of course, all the other potential heirs now have a motive to drive her insane. The frights are nonstop as hands reach out from nowhere, people disappear between trap doors, the halls echo with terrifying sounds, and secret doorways lead to hidden passageways. Three people are murdered before Wallie solves the mystery and sees Goddard through the night. Hope integrates his wiseacre comedic style into a essentially straight role, with the humor well-placed in the otherwise moody material. Creepy lighting and music also aid director Elliott Nugent in crafting an effective and fun version of one the genre's archetypal stories. ~ Don Kaye, Rovi

Give Me a Sailor
Bob Hope and Jack Whiting are amorous sailors. Martha Raye is the "ugly duckling" sister of beautiful Betty Grable. The complication? Everyone's in love with the wrong person: Martha pines for Jack who pines for Betty who pines for Bob, and so it goes. The casting seems to be mixed up as well. Betty Grable would have been the likely candidate for the roles of Legs Larkin, but this in fact is the character name of Martha Raye, who (in the picture) defeats Grable in a beautiful legs contest! Because Paramount was trying to build up a Raye-Hope team, Martha ends up with Bob at fadeout time, while Jack and Betty have to make do with each other. Martha Raye is clearly the star of Give Me a Sailor, though Bob Hope, in his third feature film, has a few worthwhile moments. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Nothing But the Truth
In this version of the oft-filmed stage play by James Montgomery, Nothing But the Truth stars Bob Hope as an up and coming young stockbroker working in Florida. He makes a bet with his coworkers that he can tell nothing but the absolute truth for 24 hours, and the other bettors are determined to keep tabs on him to make sure he doesn't falter. The rest of the action takes place aboard a yacht, where Hope's undiplomatic truthfulness gets him into hot water with a wealthy client, several other influential people, and his girl friend (Paulette Goddard). Hope's coworkers contrive to trick Hope into losing his wager, but African-American valet Willie Best foils their scheme. The picture ends with Hope having to explain his curious behavior for the past 24 hours without offending anyone (P.S.: he pulls it off). Nothing But the Truth was Paramount's third Bob Hope/Paulette Goddard costarring effort, all three based on past stage successes. The film lay unseen for years after its 1941 release due to legal tangles, but was finally made available again through the auspices of film historian Leonard Maltin in the early 1980s. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Paleface
Bob Hope's Technicolor western spoof The Paleface was one of the comedian's biggest box-office hits. Hope plays Painless Potter, a hopelessly inept dentist who heads west to seek his fortune. Meanwhile, buxom female outlaw Calamity Jane (Jane Russell) is engaged in undercover work on behalf of the government, in the hopes of earning a pardon for her past crimes. Jane is on the lookout for notorious gun-runner Robert Armstrong. To put up an innocent front, Jane marries the befuddled Potter, then keeps the criminals at bay by convincing everyone that Potter is a rootin'-tootin' gunslinger (actually, it's Jane who's been doing all the shooting). Armstrong, who has been selling guns to the Indians, arranges for Jane to be captured by the scalp-hungry tribesmen, but Potter comes to the rescue. Somewhere along the way, Bob Hope and Jane Russell get to sing the Oscar-winning Jay Livingston/Ray Evans tune "Buttons and Bows". There are many hilarious moments in The Paleface, but screenwriter Frank Tashlin felt that director Norman Z. McLeod failed to get the full comic value out of his material. To prove his point, Tashlin directed the side-splitting sequel, Son of Paleface (1952), which once more teamed Hope and Russell. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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