Saturday, May 12, 2012

210. The Paleface (1948)

Running Time: 91 minutes
Directed By: Norman Z. McLeod
Written By: Edmund L. Hartmann, Frank Tashlin
Main Cast: Bob Hope, Jane Russell, Robert Armstrong, Iris Adrian, Bobby Watson


You don't know how much I wanted to dislike this one, just so I could've used the subtitle, "Hope Can Drive A Man Insane". However, this wasn't half bad and provided a nice respite from the more serious pictures, allowing me to kick my feet up and have a good laugh courtesy of Mr. Hope.

In the old west, a group of unknowns are illegally selling guns and dynamite to the Indians. When the governor finds out, he realizes that it's going to take a dead shot and a brave soul to head into Indian territory and track down the culprits. That's where Calamity Jane (Russell) comes in, as she's busted out of jail by the governor and sent out on the case, with the promise of a full pardon if she gets results. In order to blend in with the crowd aboard the wagon train, it is Jane's mission to meet up with a federal agent who will pose as her husband and together the two will infiltrate Indian country. However, Jane's federal agent turns up dead and Jane has to think fast on her feet. Enter "Painless" Peter Potter (Hope), a clumsy dentist who Jane runs into while evading trouble. Jane cons Painless into marrying her and going with her on her mission. Painless, happy to have a beautiful woman interested in him, takes the bait. The two head off together and a W.C. Fields-esque comedy ensues.

Actually the plot isn't important in the slightest. For more modern movie fans, think "Blazing Saddles" and you can kind of get the idea of what "The Paleface" is like, as it's simply a spoof on westerns. Some of my long time followers may remember my initial praise of "It's a Gift" and how much I enjoyed the comedic styling of W.C. Fields. Well, Bob Hope reminded me a lot of W.C. In fact, not only did "The Paleface" remind me of a W.C Fields comedy, it reminded me of all the great, early comedies I was lucky enough to see, way back when my journey was just getting on it's feet. Bob Hope obliviously escaped trouble, much like Charles Chaplin and Buster Keaton and he had a dozen one-liners up every sleeve, much like Groucho Marx. While I do compare the comedians, the final pictures really don't compare as I saw some pretty stellar comedies from THE BOOK thus far and I wouldn't go so far as to call "The Paleface" stellar. Did I laugh? Yes! Did I rewind the film to hear Hope sing "Buttons and Bows" a second time? Yes! But can I honestly see this film making my next TOP 20? No, I don't think so. I guess anything is possible and I never deal in definites, but "The Paleface" just wasn't on the same tier as the Fields, Chaplin, Keaton, Marx and Laurel & Hardy comedies I saw.

It did serve the purpose of peaking my interests in both Bob Hope and Jane Russell though. I immediately went to IMDB and added a slew of Hope comedies to my watchlist and Jane Russell sure was a sight to behold, as even in her buckskin pants she was vivacious! Fortunately, I have another Jane Russell flick scheduled for this 100, so I'll get to visit with her again. This isn't one that I need to harp on. It's a fine comedy and a lot of people are going to fall in love with it (or have fallen in love with it) I'm sure. However, it just isn't so good that it's MUST SEE material.

RATING: 6/10  I had a lot of fun with it and sometimes, that's all that matters. Hope was brilliant, Russell was gorgeous and that's enough for me.


Seven (1995 - David Fincher)

The Lion King (1994 - Allers, Minkoff)
Dancer in the Dark (2000 - Lars von Trier)
Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949 - Robert Hamer)
Tsotsi (2005 - Gavin Hood)
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974 - Sam Peckinpah)

May 12, 2012  12:58am

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