The Bob Hope Collection: Volume 2
DVD | Box Set
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Taken from wonderful high-definition transfers, this collection presents six classic comedies starring the legendary Bob Hope! Now you can sit back, laugh and rediscover the magic of the song-and-dance comedian widely considered to be the Entertainer of the 20th Century in this brand-new set from Shout! Factory!
The Great Lover (1949): Bob Hope plays scoutmaster Freddie Hunter in this delightful comedy. During a European tour with the scouts, Freddie falls under the influence of a cardsharp who promotes a romance between Freddie and Duchess Alexandria. Co-stars Rhonda Fleming, Roland Young and George Reeves.
Son Of Paleface (1952): Peter "Junior" Potter (Hope) is a Harvard graduate who heads west to the town of Sawbuck Pass to claim his fathersfortune. Once there, Junior discovers that the whole town claims to be owed a debt and that his fathers treasure chest is empty. Co-starring Jane Russell and Roy Rogers.
Paris Holiday (1958): American comedian Bob Hunter (Bob Hope) is chased all over Paris by the underworld, aided by his French counterpart, Fernydel (Fernandel). This classic comedy co-stars Anita Ekberg, Martha Hyer, Preston Sturges and Yves Brainville.
The Private Navy Of Sgt. OFarrell (1968): Hope stars as Master Sergeant Dan O'Farrell, who has the craziest crew ever to sale in this WWII comedy. Co-starring Phyllis Diller, Jeffrey Hunter, Gina Lollobrigida and Dick Sargent.
How To Commit Marriage (1969): Jackie Gleason joins Bob Hope in this clash of comedy titans!. Co-starring Jane Wyman, Leslie Nielson, Tina Louise and Tim Matheson.
Cancel My Reservation (1972): Dan Bartlett is a late-night TV talk show host taking a much-needed vacation in Arizona. There, he stumbles upon a murder and a conspiracy to defraud a local Native American group of part of its reservation. Co-Starring Eva Marie Saint, Ralph Bellamy, Anne Archer and Keenan Wynn. Look for some big name cameos as well.
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Why 4 stars instead of 5? Depending on what you like, this volume really shows the difference between Hope at the top of his game, and Hope when he should've called it quits years earlier.
"The Great Lover" (1949) is the earliest offering, showing Hope in fine wisecracking-cowardly-womanizing form as a scoutmaster leading his troupe through Europe (via luxury liner) while crossing paths with a charming murderer & lovely Rhonda Fleming (look for a hilarious cameo from Jack Benny). "Son of Paleface" (1952) is one of my personal faves. A zany sequel to the 1948 original, Hope plays the Harvard-educated "idiot son" of Painless Potter who returns west to inherit his Daddy's fortune while fending off town creditors hungry to get paid off. En route, he gets mixed up with a tough gang leader (darkly gorgeous Jane Russell as "The Torch") and the federal agent (Roy Rogers, along with Trigger, the horse who easily outwits Hope) tracking her. Helmed by former Looney Toons animator Frank Tashlin (which explains why he has a real eye for wild sight gags), Hope couldn't have been in better hands. Hope proves here that he's become a masterful visual comedian as well as a verbal one at this point, and the movie dares you not to laugh all the way through it. "Paris Holiday" (1958) is an extremely pleasing comedy, pairing Hope with blond beauty Anita Ekberg, and teaming him with French comedian Ferndandel with surprisingly amusing results. As an actor traveling through Europe who gets embroiled in international intrigue, it has pleasing echoes of Hope comedies past. A carnival, a mental institution, a trial, and a kooky helicopter ride are some of the highlights.
Now going downhill...
It was clear that Hope did his best film work in the 40's & 50's, with a few nice surprises in the 60's. Not that Hope wasn't funny in the 60's; his trademark quips & one-liners could still get laughs. But he never looked more out of place--and out of step--with the times than here, saddled with embarrassingly lousy scripts. "The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell" (1968) is probably the best offering, a loose-limbed, wacky WWII comedy reuniting Hope with director Frank Tashlin. No classic, to be sure, at least the movie doesn't take itself too seriously, as it contains a funny spoof of "From Here to Eternity"...and wild-haired comic foil Phyllis Diller. "How to Commit Marriage" (1969) "pits"--rather than "teams"--Hope against Jackie Gleason in this dated comedy about love, divorce, morals & the generation gap. The movie comes alive in scenes when Hope & Gleason square off toe-to-toe, but the rest of the movie is a letdown, disappointing fans of two comedy greats. "Cancel My Reservation" (1972) is even further off the target (you hear a funky 70's soundtrack & wonder what Hope is doing in this one). As a vacationing TV talk show personality framed for murder in Arizona (there's also a plot to swindle Native Americans out of land), the story allows little opportunity for comedy. It seems more like an episode from a TV crime show than a Hope comedy.
Again, this volume certainly has its highs & lows. But it's really up to the viewer to decide what's great, and what's not.