Blu Ray Review: Three More Bob Hope Features from Kino Lorber
Kino Lorber has been releasing a lot of Bob Hope’s films on blu ray, resulting in upgraded and enhanced versions of his most timeless and delightful comedies. The three most recent releases are perfect examples. These three films come during what can be argued as the strongest period in Bob Hope’s movie career. Each is among his funniest. All three are sold separately but will be reviewed in this article.
CAUGHT IN THE DRAFT (1941)
Military comedies are a staple of cinema. Just about every comedian has made a comedy about being in the service, from Charlie Chaplin to Buster Keaton to Laurel and Hardy to The 3 Stooges, Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis --- even Pauly Shore! Bob Hope starred in Caught in the Draft right around the time the Nazis were storming the gates at Stalingrad and Japan was dominating the Pacific Rim. Although the film was released before the attack on Pearl Harbor, American involvement in the war already seemed inevitable. And Bob Hope was already entertaining the troops at service camps along the California coast. So, an army comedy was the perfect vehicle. Hope’s usually fast-talking dialog is sharp and witty, while several slapstick sequences give the movie some visceral action. The supporting cast includes Dorothy Lamour, Eddie Bracken, Clarence Kolb, and Lynn Overman. The preview for this film was at Camp Callan and went over big with servicemen. When it was released to theaters in July of 1941, it was such a huge hit it turned out to be Paramount’s top grossing film that year. Kino’s blu ray is beautiful and filled with fun extras, including the short films Entertaining The Troops, Hollywood Victory Caravan, as well as Command Performances for 1944 and 1945. Michael Schlesinger and Stan Taffel provide fun, enlightening commentary as usual.
The movie can be ordered at this link: Hope/Draft
NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (1941)
Released only months after Caught in the Draft, this one uses the old plot device of a man having to tell the truth for 24 hours, without embellishment. This is a good idea for Bob Hope, who had already established his comic persona in films and on radio as a wiseacre with a penchant for stretching the truth with a swagger. In this set-up, $10,000 of his company’s money is part of a wager, so Hope’s character struggles to be completely truthful for the 24 hours duration. Paulette Goddard co-stars, as she had in earlier films The Cat and the Canary and The Ghost Breakers, and African-American comic Willie Best further enhances the humor. The idea was later used for Jim Carrey in Liar Liar, but this Hope feature comfortably surpasses that with wit and charm rather than the more bombastic approach that Carrey preferred. Another beauty from Kino Lorber, with interesting and informative commentary by Simon Abrams.
This movie can be ordered at this link: Hope/Truth
MY FAVORITE BLONDE (1942)
Perhaps the funniest of the three Bob Hope films to be released by Kino Lorber, this one has the comedian playing a vaudeville performer who gets mixed up with a beautiful spy and the transfer of war plans. Hope is able to draw upon every element of his, by now, established screen persona, including brashness, cowardice, and wisecracking. The script, by Norman Panama and Melvin Frank, is a sendup of Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, and Hope goes so far as to cast that film’s star, Madeline Carroll, as his leading lady. Hope had his comedy writers Don Hartman and Frank Butler punch up Panama and Frank’s comedy script with more jokes and the result is one of the comedian’s top films. There is even an amusing cameo by Bing Crosby, showing that the duo’s Road series was already an established part of either man’s career.
Kino’s beautiful blu ray is further enhanced by Samm Deighan’s commentary, she being among the very best in this field.
This movie can be ordered at this link: Hope/Blonde
All of these Bob Hope movies are most highly recommended. Now that he’s gone, Hope’s legacy is his motion picture work, and the three films from the strongest period in his movie career are outstanding examples.