Bob Hope Tribute Collection - Louisiana Purchase / Never Say Die Double Feature
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Louisiana Purchase Bob Hope will make your sides ache with laughter. With enchanting songs by Irving Berlin, including "Louisiana Purchase," "You're Lonely and I'm Lonely" and "It's a Lovely Day Tomorrow," and based on the hit Broadway musical, Louisiana Purchase is a fun and fierce look at the way politics, and politicians, sometimes spin out of control and into the headlines. Never Say Die A misdiagnosis of a month to live sends Bob Hope into Martha Raye's arms. A deadly widow (Gale Sondergaard) tries to trap Mr. Kidley (Hope) into a hasty wedding, but Kidley runs to the altar with Mickey (Raye), who is dodging an arranged marriage. Now the jilted ex-fiances are chasing the newlyweds in a hilarious honeymoon.
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Never Say Die *** stars.
This double feature from the Bob Hope Tribute Collection is the weakest one easily. Louisiana Purchase goes on & on & becomes intolerable before it mercifully reaches its conclusion. The dialog goes on endlessly & the film goes nowhere. It was released in 1941 & is in color, a rarity for Hope in those days. In fact it was the first film he starred in that was done in color. It's based on an Irving Berlin Broadway musical & might be described as political satire but it never gets off the ground, sort of like the Spruce Goose. Jim Taylor (Hope) is a political flunky who gets set up for a fall by some dishonest politicians who don't want to pay the price for their crimes.
Never Say Die is fairly decent Hope material. It was released in 1939.
John Kidley (Hope), a wealthy man, learns that he only has 30 days to live. What he doesn't realize is that the tests were wrong. So he decides to go to Bad Gaswasser spa in Switzerland. He dumps his fiancee before he goes. After arriving at Bad Gaswasser he meets Mickey Hawkins (Martha Raye) who is being forced to marry Prince Smirnov (Alan Mowbray). Smirnov has some serious gambling debts & reasons that marrying her will put some ready cash in his hands. Mickey doesn't love Smirnov but does love Henry Munch (Andy Devine), a mere commoner from the States. Kidley & Hawkins end up marrying one another but only to get over on things. Munch goes with them on their honeymoon with hilarious results. Eventually Kidley discovers that he's going to live. By this time Kidley Hawkins discover they love each other but one problem remains: Smirnov feels insulted & demands satisfaction via a duel with Kidley. This scene is hilarious as different individuals give Kidley loads of advice on how to win the duel. Kidley gets all the advice jumbled up & is sputtering out jibberish. Hope would later do this same thing in Paleface. Gale Sondergaard co-stars in her usual evil personna.
"Never say Die" is a great example of a forgotten second rung gem. Hope plays a millionaire hypochondriac who is waiting to die when he is wrongly diagnosed as having the acidity of a dog and will eventually implode because he will eat his own bones. The film is full of nutty and very funny ideas like this, not surprising when you learn that Preston Sturges is listed as one of the writers. Martha Raye plays against type as the heroine, destined to a loveless marriage to a prince, but falling for Hope and saving him from a black widow played by Gale Sondergaard. There is an excellent supporting cast, beautiful backdrops of the European countryside and Raye delivers an amusing song with her usual skill. The print has not been restored and there is some dirt and popping but overall, it is more than adequate.
"Louisiana Purchase" is the film version of a popular Broadway musical with many of the original cast. The script is a satire on politics. Filmed in technicolour which is preserved in this excellent print, there are some funny bits but most of the Irving Berlin songs have been cut and the comedy is too slow. Irving Cummings directs in his usual technically competent, unimaginative and plodding way. This film should have been faster and funnier. Vera Zorina plays the female lead and she is prettier and more animated than in any of her other film appearances.
The set comes with a few extras - the original theatrical trailers, some production notes and short biographys of the principals.