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Archive for the ‘Bob Hope’ Category

The Ghost Breakers

23 Feb

The Ghost Breakers – directed by George Marshall – Comedy Mystery Thriller. That haunted island castle in the Caribbean must be explored! 82 minutes Black and white 1940

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Bob Hope plays his usual boastful fool, and it is quite welcome. Here again he is sexually overreaching and heroically underachieving, floundering into shallows over his head. Hope is a master at the lecherous coward, (also played by Danny Kaye and Jerry Lewis and Charlie Chaplin and many others). No wonder he appealed so long to so many. In real life, evidently Hope was quite intrepid, going into battles zones to entertain the troops, but intrepidity and cowardice go hand in hand, else one would not know one from the other. I saw this picture as a little kid when it came out and the recollection of a woman side-stroking through swampy misty water holding her clothes over her head to keep them dry never left me as an example of practicality under pressure. Also the spooky castle remained with me and gave me nightmares. So did the zombie, my first in film. All these effects now have lost their power; thus the questionable practice of revisiting the past. Ahh, but the film still has its power to entertain. Its effects are low key and innocent but they give us a chance to recover from each while the next one waits in the wings. The film was re-made many years later with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, with the same director and the same sets, but this is by far the better version. Paulette Goddard, she of the dimples, is excellent here. Male or female, every actor who has dimples is a minx, and she sure is. Goddard was one of the brightest women in Hollywood, highly respected as a person, but everyone agreed that she could not act worth tuppence. I don’t know why. Here she’s good, attentive, game, unapologetic about taking off her clothes a couple of times — a good-time gal with a deep resource of pep and very convincing as a brash lass, up against Anthony Quinn at his most sexually dangerous, and adventuring into the haunted castle against all warnings. Go with her. You will be so pleased to be petrified. .

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My Favorite Blond/Star Spangled Rhythm

23 Jan

My Favorite Blond/Star Spangled Rhythm —  director Sidney Lanfield/George Marshall – Mystery Farce in which a coward gets involved with a WWII spy ring. And A Hollywood WWII effort Variety Show.  Black and white 1942.

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The Ghostbusters is a better Hope film of this era, but this one has its moments, as a mock spy caper, with Madeleine Carroll as The Hitchcock blonde she was. Star Spangled Rhythm is a Paramount varsity show and far more fun, with Hope as a cameo, spouting in-jokes about Crosby who is also in it. In a huge cast of Paramount superstars, the main attraction is Betty Hutton. You might say, if fact you would have to say, she “propels” the plot, for she had pop-eyes in every cell of her body. Here she throws herself into each scene as though onto a trampoline. This was her way, and if you can stand it, you can stand anything. But boy do you have to give her credit for total engagement, and she is superb in one scene with two men attached by the hands, trying to get over a wall. It’s a very funny scene, brilliantly played by her and by the other two, who were avid contortionists. Ray Milland, Franchot Tone, and Fred MacMurray are amusing as three men playing bridge like three women, a sketch written by George S. Kaufman. And there is Rochester doing a superb zoot-suit number with Katherine Dunham, young and great. Boy, do they rock! George Balanchine’s choreography of a jazz ballet with Vera Zorina is fascinating, not least because of Zorina’s amazing figure — yikes! Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer wrote the music for the film, and the score includes That Old Black Magic and Dick Powell and Mary Martin singing Hit The Road to Dreamland, the latter of which is taken over by a quartet of black male singers who are just wonderful! So there is really a lot of jam on the thin piece of toast this picture is, which was a War-effort effort. The toast may be stale by now, but the jam — especially as regards the black singers and dancers — is still fresher than fresh!

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