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Customer Review

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars lots of classic material, but falls short of being the "ultimate" Bob Hope collection..., October 23, 2011
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This review is from: Bob Hope Ultimate Collection (Special Edition) (DVD)
Comedian Bob Hope (1903-2003) was the kind of guy you don't see much anymore, at least not in the entertainment business. An comedic legend, he began his career in vaudeville and eventually became a movie star. After retiring from feature films, Hope became familiar to generations of Americans for his numerous TV specials on NBC, and as an ambassador of goodwill, entertaining US military troops overseas. Always the epitome of class, Hope was also known for his trademark nose, and his love of golf.

This four disc set contains a selection of Hope's TV specials from the 1970's up through the 1990's, and will probably be most appreciated by those at least age thirty and above. Those familiar with this particular period of time, will probably recognize many familiar and forgotten faces, among the dozens of guest stars and celebrities featured. If you are not aware of world history, many of the jokes based on current events at the time, with be a mystery to you, but for those in the appropriate age range, much of this is material is pure nostalgia gold.

Disc One contains Volumes 1 and 2 of "50 Years Of Laughter" a retrospective of Bob Hope's 25 years of doing TV specials on NBC. Covering 25 years in a couple of hours is a tough job. Some of the clips are quite brief, and the image quality isn't always the greatest, but it's a pretty nice trip down memory lane. The two parts total about 102 minutes.

Disc Two is perhaps the best in the collection. First up is "The Bob Hope Christmas Special" (64 minutes) a terrific feature from 1970, narrated by Hope, that follows Bob and his brave group of entertainers, as they tour Southeast Asia entertaining US troops at various military bases. Among those in the troupe are Connie Stevens, Teresa Graves (Get Christie Love), and the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong. Regardless of how you feel about America's involvement in Viet Nam, the military personnel there deserved the country's full support. Bob Hope, and all those who participated in the many tours through the years, are unsung heroes who risked their lives, and sacrificed time away from their families during the holidays, to bring a little joy to our troops.

Also on this disc is "Bob Hope's Bag Full Of Christmas Memories" (59 minutes) a holiday special from 1993 that features a party at the Hope residence where excerpts from past Christmas Specials are replayed. Among Bob and Delores' guests are Barbara Eden, Naomi and Wynona Judd, Joey Lawrence, and Loni Anderson.

Disc 3 contains "The Hilarious Unrehearsed Antics Of The Stars" (47 minutes) from 1984, a collection of gaffs and flub ups that mostly occurred live in front of an audience, with the real fun of course being in watching the performer's reactions. "Bob Goes To War " is a retrospective recounting some of Bob's adventures while touring the Pacific theater during World War II (17 minutes). "Bob's On The Air" is a 30 minute recording of Bob hosting a radio program back in 1935. It's mostly music, and putting a radio program on a DVD, just isn't a good idea. "Bob's Two Reelers" is a pair of black and white shorts from his early days. Rather than including the radio program and the shorts, it would have been better to feature another special.

Disc 4 contains "Bob Hope's World Of Comedy" (90 minutes) another compilation special with some of Bob's most beloved partners, including Lucille Ball, David Niven, Jack Benny, Ann Margaret, Danny Thomas, Bing Crosby, Johnny Carson, Donald O'Connor, Lassie the wonder collie, and a high-flying Martha Raye as Batgirl.

While this is a mostly solid set, the claim that is it the "ultimate collection" is an overstatement. There is plenty of classic material, but with only around two hours per disc, the amount of content is a little disappointing, as much more material could have been featured, and some of what is included is questionable. Over several decades, Bob Hope did a ton of specials, so there's plenty of material to choose from, as is evidenced by the various other DVD sets with material from Hope's specials. While much of the content in the "Ultimate Collection" is wonderful for lovers of classic TV, the set rates only four stars for value, and some questionable choices regarding material. Look for it on the secondary market for a bargain price.
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