'Legends of Hollywood - Bob Hope Series'
(Bob Hope, et al / 5-Disc DVD / NR / (1952) 2008 / BCI Eclipse)
Overview: He is one of Hollywood's greatest entertainers here highlighted in 10 of his most beloved films - four newly restored in high definition: The Lemon Drop Kid, Road to Rio (NEWLY RESTORED MASTER), The Great Lover, Son of Paleface (NEWLY RESTORED MASTER), Road to Bali (NEWLY RESTORED MASTER), The Seven Little Foys, Paris Holiday, Private Navy of Sgt. O Farrell, How to Commit Marriage, and My Favorite Brunette (NEWLY RESTORED MASTER).
DVD Verdict: Taking these incredible movies one at a time, here's a rundown along with some thoughts on each: 'The Lemondrop Kid' (1951) - Bob Hope plays a small-time con artist with a fondness for lemon candy in this film based on a Damon Runyon story. When the Lemon Drop Kid accidentally cheats gangster Moose Moran (Fred Clark) out of his track winnings, the Kid promises to repay Moose the money by Christmas. Creating a fake charity for "Apple Annie" Nellie Thursday, the Kid tricks his gang into donning Santa suits and "collecting dough for old dolls" like Nellie who have nowhere to live. Hope is great as the fast-talking sharpster, and the comical gangsters are well worth the price of admission. Music by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston (including the classic Christmas song "Silver Bells") makes The Lemon Drop Kid that much sweeter.
'Road To Rio' (1947) - Bob Hope and Bing Crosby ushered in 1947's "Road to Rio" with zany wit, plenty of style, and the Andrew Sisters. On the run from the law, musicians Bob and Bing escape from a burning carnival, stow away on an ocean liner, and get shot at in Oklahoma. And that's just the first half-hour. "Road to Rio" is perhaps as comedic and stunning as their earlier "Road to Morocco". Though not as funny as "My Favorite Brunette(a Hope-financed production)", "Road to Rio" is a solid No. 5 entry in the series of 7 Road Pictures. The film's pace does suffer from phlegmatic Dorothy Lamour; perfectly cast as a semi-hypnotic coquette. However, the real currency of "Road to Rio" is a stellar cast, including Gale Sondergaard, Frank Faylen, Ray Teal,Charles Middleton, future horror star Tor Johnson, and the hilarious Jerry Colonna.
'The Great Lover' (1949) - After the success of Sorrowful Jones Bob Hope again turned to his top-notch writers Edmund Beloin Jack Rose and Melville Shavelson to pen The Great Lover. This time Hope stars as Freddie Hunter a reporter who is chaperoning a troop of scouts aboard an exotic ocean liner. However Freddie would rather pay more attention to Duchess Alexandria (Rhonda Fleming) than his scouts. But Freddie has more to be concerned with than his scouts and the Duchess-a homicidal gambler looking to frame him for his murderous deeds. This very funny film is great entertainment for the entire family, as Bob Hope tries to romance Rhonda Fleming on board a cruise while not getting caught by the very clean and upright boy scout type troop of young men he's leading called the Foresters.
'Son Of Paleface' (1954) - Four years after his hit comedy The Paleface Bob Hope returned to the screen as Junior Potter son of Painless Peter Potter the hapless hero of the first film. The Harvard-bred Junior heads out west to claim his father's inheritance. Returning for the sequel but in a different role is Jane Russell (The Outlaw) as an outlaw named Mike who continually has to save our hapless hero. Also starring in the sequel is the King of the Cowboys himself Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger who portray themselves. You certainly never go into a Bob Hope comedy like "Son of Paleface", expecting realism and nor should you. What we do get here however is a laugh filled few hours of great comedy, tremendous gags, and often quite a bit of adlibbing.
'Road To Bali' (19530 - Bob Hope Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour team up in their sixth "Road" picture Road to Bali which was the only film in the series to be shot in color. Hope and Crosby star as two out-of-work vaudeville performers who are on the lam. The two are hired by a South Seas prince as deep-sea divers in order to recover a buried treasure. They meet beautiful Princess Lala (Lamour) and vie for her affections. Of course the boys run into the usual perils such as cannibals a giant squid and numerous cameos from some of Hollywood's biggest stars. The one liners are never ending and will keep you chuckling even though it may seem a little silly at times. No matter though. They cleverly talk to the camera and there is the added pleasure of spying lots of famous faces (in cameos) throughout the film!
'The Seven Little Foys' (1955) - A rarely seen Bob Hope gem, "The Seven Little Foys" is well worth seeking out. The film is based on the true story of Eddie Foy, a vaudvillian who, after the unexpected death of his wife, decides to make his seven children into a stage act in order to keep on eye on them while on the road. That his children are one and all completely deviod of any talent whatsoever doesn't faze him much. After all, famous for being dreadfully untalented is still famous.
'Paris Holiday' (1958) - After a dramatic turn in Beau James Bob Hope returned to comedy and co-starred with French comedian Fernandel in Paris Holiday. Hope plays Robert Hunter an actor traveling to Paris to purchase a screenplay only to find himself mixed up with counterfeits. While Hunter has his eye on diplomat Ann McCall (Martha Hyer - Houseboat The Chase) a sexy spy named Zara (the luscious Anita Ekberg - Miss Sweden 1950) has her eye on the screenplay. In truth the jokes are definitely late Hope, smirky and obvious, and the action is slowed considerably by the fact that Hope plays opposite Fernandel, who speaks only French. Indeed, you have to wait while another character translates what he says or watch him looking confused!
'Private Navy of Sgt. O Farrell' (1968) - It only seems fitting that after spending so many years entertaining Amreican troops that Bob Hope would have enlisted into the Navy (on film that is) as the title character in The Private Navy of Sgt. O Farrell. When a Japanese torpedo hits a cargo ship containing a shipment of beer Sgt. O Farrell decides to rescue the beverages and deliver some nurses to the outpost for his men. The troops however are more than surprised to receive several male nurses and Phyllis Diller! Why this film was a commercial failure and is critically loathed is beyond me. No, this is not one of Bob's best, not by any means. But Hope himself is in fine form, and while the film is uneven, there are enough good one liners and sight gags to satisfy his fans.
'How to Commit Marriage' (1969) - Bob Hope and Oscar-winner Jane Wyman star as the perfect married couple with one minor exception: They are about to announce their divorce. However their daughter is getting married. And that's just the beginning. The young couple must deal with the trials and tribulations of the groom's father (Jackie Gleason) as he tries to stop the wedding. The film was quite fitting as Bob saw his own daughter Nora get married that same year. Trust me all you naysayers ... this is a classic Bob Hope comedy and well worth watching!
'My Favorite Brunette' (1947) - Ronnie Jackson (Bob Hope) tells the press a tragic tale just before his scheduled execution for murder. He wanted nothing more than to be a private detective like his charismatic office partner Sam McCloud (Alan Ladd in a cameo) whom he impersonates when dazzlingly beautiful Baroness Carlotta Montey (Dorothy Lamour) walks in to seek help. She tells an intriguing tale of greed and subterfuge revolving around Baron Montay (Frank Puglia) whose relationship with her seems to range from uncle to husband. At the center of an elaborate plot appears to be a geological map that is later revealed to lead to an invaluable source of raw uranium.
It's nice to see Peter Lore in a comedie. With the exception of Casablanca it seems like he was always in really serious, crime movies so I enjoyed watching him stretch his wings as an actor. I love this movie because I'm also a big Lon Cheny Jr. fan and he does not disappoint either. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, but does not come with any Special Features.