What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Paleface (1948)

Today, we’ve got a Bob Hope double-feature! To be fair, they’re both kind of cheater reviews, with the other one being some updated comments on the new Blu-ray of The Cat And The Canary, and, while I’ve already done The Paleface (and its sequel) before, that also has a recent Blu-ray release! So, I feel it’s worth talking about the Bob Hope and Jane Russell comedy The Paleface again! Of course, we’ve got our theatrical short to get through first, and then it’s on to this fun film!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Rough Brunch (1971)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 18 seconds)

The ant gets help from a termite to avoid the aardvark. Another cartoon with the ant getting help from somebody else. While the termite himself may not be one of the best supporting characters from the series, he’s still enough fun to make it worthwhile. After all, the aardvark never seems to see the destruction coming, as he keeps walking in all the wrong places! Certainly amusing enough to revisit with some frequency!

And Now For The Main Feature…

(Host): Well, I don’t see the Narrator, so I better get started telling the story. It was a dark and –

(Click) (The lights on the stage go out)

(Host): Hey, who turned out the lights? (Crash). And who left that chair there for me to crash into?

(Narrator): (From offstage) Never mind that. Get back to the story!

(Host): There he is. But, he’s right, let’s get back to it. It was a dark and stormy night –

(Sound of a thunderclap) (Rain starts falling down on the stage heavily)

(Host): Great. Rain, too?

(Narrator): Get on with it!!

(Host): Well, YOU’RE not the one getting soaked, so shush! Still, I should keep trying. It was a dark and stormy night when two masked men came up on the jail –

(The Narrator comes out in a hold-up mask and points his gun into the back of the Host)

(Host): What is this, a hold-up?

(Narrator): No, YOU’RE the one holding things up. In case you haven’t forgotten, we already covered most of this in the previous review, so I’ll speed you up. Calamity Jane (Jane Russell) is freed from jail. She is sent, by the governor, to find out who is sending guns to a renegade group of Native American Indians. To hide as part of a wagon train going west, she marries dentist “Painless” Peter Potter (Bob Hope).

(Host): Happier now?

(Narrator): Yes.

(Host): Then, can you take the gun out of my back?

(Narrator): I can, but where would the fun be in that? Now you stay put, while I continue telling the audience the story. (Turns away while still holding gun to Host) Jane finds some men bringing dynamite out with the wagon train. She overhears their suspicions that Painless might be the federal agent, and she feeds them enough details to “confirm” their speculations. Before long, Painless and Jane lose track of the wagons in front of them, and they (along with everybody that was behind them) get separated. They stay at a cabin overnight, but in the morning, they are attacked by a group of Native Americans. Painless, who was outside shaving at the time the attack began, crawled into a rain barrel outside (because the doors were locked before he could get in). Using a gun that Jane tossed him out a window, he tries to start shooting through a hole in the barrel. It appears that he manages to shoot down a number of attackers (but, in reality, it is Jane shooting with a rifle through the window, out of sight of everybody else).

(Host): (Tries to tiptoe away while the Narrator is distracted. Steps on a floorboard that creaks very loudly, and then makes a mad dash offstage)

(Narrator): Hey, not so fast! (Takes aim at the host, and shoots. The bullet ricochets around the stage, and hits a snake that was slithering up behind the Narrator). What? (Looks back at the now dead snake). Wow! Guess my shooting lessons with Painless paid off! (Blows away smoke from gun and puts it in holster. The gun goes off). Hoh! (Starts hopping up and down on one leg and grabs the foot that was shot) “One, two, three, four, five, six seven. I split one of them in the middle!” (Quoting Red Skelton from the movie Lovely To Look At) Anyways, eleven Native Americans were killed in the attack.

(Host): (from offstage) Twelve!

(Narrator): Don’t start that. We’re not doing that one. Again, eleven were killed (although I’m not sure I counted that many shots/bodies in the actual film). Regardless, word about Painless’ heroics makes its way to the town of Buffalo Flats, to the ears of saloon owner (and leader of the renegade group in town) Toby Preston (Robert Watson). He makes plans to have his singer, Pepper (Iris Adrian) try to catch Painless’ attention, in the hope that her boyfriend, Joe (Jeff York), would kill him in a jealous rage. When they get into town, Jane splits up with Painless to go see her contact in town, blacksmith Hank Billings (Clem Bevans). However, in breaking up with Painless, she makes him an easy target for Pepper. When Joe catches them together, Painless challenges him to a gunfight at sundown.

(Host): (From offstage) The fool!

(Narrator): Indeed! When Jane hears about it, she decides to let him die, so that the renegades think the federal agent is dead (leaving her more freedom to sneak around). However, at the last moment, she reconsiders, and shoots Joe (but, of course, everybody still thinks that Painless did it). Jane has Hank try to locate where the dynamite is hidden, while she goes to reconcile with Painless. Later that night, while Painless is unconscious after another one of Jane’s knockout “kisses,” Hank stumbles into their room with an arrow in his back, and, with his dying breath lets her know the dynamite is in the undertaker’s establishment. After waking him back up, Jane sends Painless over to investigate (without fully telling him the reason), and he gets captured (along with Jane).

(Host): (From offstage on stage left) Off to the Indian camp! Yah! (A pair of horses come running from one side of the stage to the other, with the Host being dragged along on the ground by the reins)

(Narrator): (Shakes head) After watching this movie, you’d think he’d know better than that. Anyways, with both of them now captured, can they save the West? Or will there be a massacre?

(Host): (From offstage) Back to the stage! Yah! (Another horse comes riding from off stage right, with the Host holding the reins and riding a skateboard. The Host lets go of the reins and tries to slow down, but crashes into a brick wall, now flat as a pancake) Where did that wall come from?

(Narrator): (Pulls the Host pancake off the wall, sticks a hose into him and start pumping to return him to normal) I have no idea… (Walks offstage and throws a lever that lowers the brick wall back into the ground)

(Host): (Shakes it off) Ok, I’m all right. Now, let’s talk about this movie. Writer Frank Tashlin wanted to create a western parody that would send-up the Owen Wister novel The Virginian (as well as the 1929 movie), along with a lot of the other Western cliches of the time. Actress Jane Rusell was under contract to Howard Hughes, and Paramount had to negotiate with him to get her to do this movie. Making The Paleface would turn out to be one of the few experiences with moviemaking that she would look back on fondly. For Frank Tashlin, that wouldn’t quite be the case, as he disliked what director Norman McLeod did with the film (compared to what he wanted). But, this did help drive him to direct his own movies (including this film’s sequel Son Of Paleface). In the meantime, The Paleface was a big hit, becoming the highest grossing Western parody until Blazing Saddles, and, for the second time, Bob Hope sang an Oscar-winning song with “Buttons And Bows” by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans (following his theme song “Thanks For the Memory” winning from 1938).

Well, there’s not a whole heck of a lot more I can say about this movie. When I previously reviewed this movie (and its sequel) nearly three years ago (over on my FB page where I started doing all this), I remarked on a lot of the memorable moments that keep me coming back to this film. And my feelings are still quite similar, as after nearly twenty years of watching this movie, I still enjoy Bob Hope’s antics, and bravado (and oversized ego), and what Jane Russell’s character has to put up with. This film may not be the most politically correct in terms of its treatment of the Native Americans, as their characters are very stereotypical and not that well-developed (but they seem to be a little more developed than in the sequel), but it’s still a movie I come back to every now and then for a few good laughs! So, I would definitely continue to recommend this film, and its sequel (of course, which one you go with may still depend upon your tastes and/or mood, due to the differences in comedy)!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. Their transfer of this movie looks quite good. All the colors are more vivid than I’ve seen previously, and the detail is definitely improved! It’s not a full-fledged restoration, as there are some specks and dirt here and there, but it’s certainly the best this movie is likely to look any time soon!

(Gunshots offstage)

(Host): Now, if you’ll excuse me, to quote Bob Hope, “I’m going back east, where men may not be men, but they’re not corpses, either.” (Starts running offstage)

Film Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Road To Rio (1947)Bob Hope (original review of The Paleface) (here) – The Lemon Drop Kid (1951)

Jane Russell (original review of The Paleface) (here) – Son Of Paleface (1952)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Underwater! (1955)

Note: I know this is showing up on April Fools Day, but I can assure you my thoughts and opinions on this movie are no joke.

Now we have the 1955 movie Underwater! starring Jane Russell, Gilbert Roland, Lori Nelson and Richard Egan.

While diving in the Caribbean, Dominic Quesada (Gilbert Roland) and Johnny Grant (Richard Egan) come across a sunken ship with various artifacts. They are excited when they come up, but they quickly run into shark hunter Rico Herrera (Joseph Calleia), who grills them about what they were doing. They lie, telling him they are studying rocks. They suspect he doesn’t believe them, but he lets them go on their way. Dominic and Johnny return to port in Cuba, where they go to tell Johnny’s wife Theresa (Jane Russell) about their discovery. Theresa is reluctant to sell their boat to fund an expedition, but after she and Johnny are able to talk it out, they decide to go in on the expedition. While they discuss it, Dominic goes out looking for someone else who might be interested, and finds Gloria (Lori Nelson), a secretary whose millionaire boss has left town while owing money to a lot of people. He had left her a yacht, and Dominic convinces her to let him use the boat for the expedition. They are all joined by Father Cannon (Robert Keith), who believes they found one of the wrecks of a convoy that had fled Panama with a lot of treasure, including a statue of the Madonna. After searching the area, they are able to locate the ship with the treasure on it. They run into Rico again, who is still suspicious, but lets them keep going. However, trouble comes as Dominic falls ill while diving, the sunken ship (and some of the ground holding it up) starts falling apart when they use dynamite to open a door, Rico is sticking around, and Johnny starts getting a little too much gold fever, much to Theresa’s dismay. But can they get through all these problems and bring up the treasure?

Underwater!, although directed by John Sturges (who is probably best known as the director of The Great Escape, among other films), was as much a project for Howard Hughes, the owner of RKO Studios at that time. He used the movie not only to highlight his star Jane Russell, much as he had been doing since he introduced her to the world in The Outlaw, but he also used it to highlight the then-new invention of scuba gear. The crew tried to film some stuff near Hawaii, but the footage didn’t come out great, so they came back to RKO, where they finished it in a big underwater tank on the sound stages. Of course, the movie is as well known for the big publicity stunt for its premiere, where they provided people with the gear to actually watch the movie UNDERWATER.

Going into this movie, I will admit I hadn’t exactly been hearing great things about it, so I was quite hesitant. After watching it, I find that my worries were unfounded. Sure, it’s not the greatest movie ever made, but I did have some fun watching it! I will admit, in some ways it reminded me very much of the classic The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (except underwater). We have treasure to be found, potential bandits waiting to take it away, trouble trying to get the treasure out, one member of the group essentially getting gold fever and threatening those that get in his way, etc. Obviously, it’s not as good as that classic, and certainly the slow pacing (no doubt the result of trying to show off the underwater photography) might turn a few off. But, in spite of the fact that I’m not a diver myself, I was fascinated with all the underwater footage, which made the movie entertaining enough for me. I wouldn’t suggest going in expecting a big classic or great movie, but it’s certainly enough fun that I would recommend it!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection. Warner Archive has been able to do a 4K scan here of the original camera negative, and oh, what a picture! The underwater photography looks amazing here in HD (and of course, the above-water footage looks even better), and I enjoy seeing a fun movie that hasn’t seen a release on DVD (yet) being given such wonderful treatment on home video! Certainly a recommended release! The movie is one hour, thirty-nine minutes in length.

My Rating: 7/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Son Of Paleface (1952) – Jane Russell – The Tall Men (1955)

Coming Up Shorts! with… Wigwam Whoopee (1948)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

Welcome to my new feature on various theatrical shorts! Sometimes my comments will be on shorts included as extras on a disc set I am reviewing, and other times, they will be completely unrelated to the movie being reviewed (and I will try to indicate which). Hope you enjoy!

(Length: 7 minutes, 12 seconds)

Following right behind the Mayflower, Popeye runs into Indian princess Olive, while dealing with an Indian chief who also has designs on her. With the chief essentially standing in for Bluto, this short was still fun. Admittedly, not a very politically correct cartoon, with many Indian stereotypes being used. Still, it had a few fun moments, including Olive singing the song “By A Waterfall” (from the 1933 film Footlight Parade)!

And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring more of Popeye (and the eventual post on the entire 1940s Volume 3 set), along with other shorts!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… The Tall Men (1955)

Well, it’s February 1 again, so let’s celebrate Clark Gable’s birthday with another one of his movies, this time the 1955 Western The Tall Men, also starring Jane Russell and Robert Ryan.

Coming into the Montana territory, brothers Ben Allison (Clark Gable) and Clint Allison (Cameron Mitchell) decide to rob Nathan Stark (Robert Ryan) of his bankroll and kidnap him to keep him from turning them in. However, once they get to a cabin where they plan to let him go (without his money), he makes them a job offer, where they could help him get a herd of cattle from Texas up to the Montana territory. They accept, and on their way to get the cattle, they run into a group of settlers stuck in a winter storm. They leave after the storm, but, upon seeing signs of Sioux Indians nearby, Ben goes back to help the settlers while Clint goes on with Nathan. When Ben gets there, the only surviving settler is Nella Turner (Jane Russell), and he helps her get away. Another storm forces them to stop in a cabin, where sparks start to fly until Ben reveals his dream of owning a ranch in Prairie Dog Creek, which differs from Nella’s dreams of a better life. When a band of soldiers come, they make their way to San Antonio, where they plan to go their separate ways. Ben helps recruit men to go on the cattle drive, and Nella runs into Nathan Stark, who ends up convincing her to go along on the cattle drive. Along the way, they have to face a militant band of Jayhawkers at the Kansas border, along with Sioux Indians on the warpath.

The Tall Men was based on a 1954 novel by Clay Fisher. Director Raoul Walsh would make good use of location shooting in Sun Valley, Idaho and the Sierra de Organos and Los Organes Valley near Durango, Mexico due at least partly to how much things had changed in both Texas and Montana in the time since the events of the story took place.

Going into this movie, my biggest reason for wanting to see it was Clark Gable, and it was well worth it (and not just because of him)! Clark does indeed give a great performance as Ben Allison, a real tough guy who takes care of his family and friends as best he can (while still being careful when dealing with those he doesn’t trust). Jane Russell is fun here, bringing some of her sass, especially as she sings “Tall Men” throughout the journey (usually within earshot of Gable’s Ben, with the lyrics changing to reflect how she feels about him at the time). The scenery is just absolutely beautiful here, and is a lot of the fun! I do admit, I enjoyed watching the cattle drive a lot, too, especially when it came down to the fight between the cattle drovers and the Sioux Indians! But, as far as Clark Gable is concerned, I think Robert Ryan’s final lines (which were about Ben Allison) are just so fitting about Clark: “There goes the only man I ever respected. He’s what every boy thinks he’s going to be when he grows up and wishes he had been when he’s an old man.” Definitely a very fun Western, and one I would highly recommend!

The movie is available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time as a limited edition with 3000 total copies available through either www.screenarchives.com or www.twilighttimemovies.com. The new transfer for this Blu-ray is spectacular! The colors work very well, and the detail is definitely there, allowing us to see all the wonderful scenery from the location shooting! Easily the best way to see this movie! It is also available on DVD from 20th Century Fox (although presumably with an older transfer).

Film Length: 2 hours, 2 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Mogambo (1953)Clark GableThe King And Four Queens (1956)

Underwater! (1955) – Jane Russell

On Dangerous Ground (1951) – Robert Ryan – King Of Kings (1961)

The Long And The Short (Series) Of It on… The Paleface (1948) and Son Of Paleface (1952)

“Brave men run in my family.” – Painless Potter (Bob Hope), The Paleface.

And with that, we start a discussion on the two movies featuring Painless Potter and his son (both played by Bob Hope): The Paleface and Son Of Paleface.

In The Paleface, we find Bob Hope playing the dentist “Painless” Peter Potter (painless because he uses LAUGHING gas on his patients to dull the pain). But to back up a little, we find Jane Russell, who plays Calamity Jane, being broken out of jail by men working for the governor of the territory, so that she can go undercover and help find (and stop) men who are running guns to the Native Americans in the territory (since the governor thinks a woman, particularly one who can handle herself, would be better suited for the job). She was to go to Fort Deerfield, where she would meet up with a lawyer who would pose as her husband on a wagon train heading to Buffalo Flats. Once she gets to Fort Deerfield, she finds the lawyer dead, and finds herself in danger. To get out of trouble, she ducks into a two-story building, with the ladies’ bath lounge on the second floor. On the first floor, where she has to wait, is Painless Potter. When she goes up, the men gunning for her follow, thinking she won’t be wearing her guns (how wrong they were). Due to circumstances, Painless Potter gets out of town in his covered wagon, and Jane jumps onto it. They marry (after she decides to try using him for cover), and join the wagon train. And this is all within the first few minutes! From here on, I’m keeping quiet about the story so as to minimize spoilers.

There are any number of comedy highlights from this movie. Of course, most of Bob Hope’s quips are generally humorous. Of course, the first few minutes where we are introduced to him as Painless, and get to see him in action as a dentist (which is both hilarious and enough to scare you away from dentists at the same time). The “kisses” between Hope and Russell are amusing (normally finished by her smacking him on the back of the head with the butt of a gun to knock him out). The “giggling Indian” (best way I can think of to describe him) should be worth a few chuckles. The fight with the Indians at a cabin on the trail (which “establishes” Painless as a hero) and his gunfight with the town bully in Buffalo Flats (made better by the townspeople’s advice) are both some of the better moments.

Son of Paleface brings back Bob Hope and Jane Russell, and they are joined this time by Roy Rogers and Trigger, the “smartest horse in the movies” (hey, that’s what they opening credits claim)! The movie once again finds us following a federal agent (Roy Rogers), who is out to stop “the Torch,” an outlaw who has been robbing gold shipments from stagecoaches (Jane Russell playing the villain this time. Bob Hope plays Painless’ (or as this movie now refers to him, Paleface) “flesh and idiot” (AKA son), Junior Potter, who has come to town to claim his inheritance. Much to his shock and dismay, he finds his father owed the townspeople a lot of money, and the chest he inherited is empty (a fact he tries to keep hidden from the townspeople)! His father’s old partner believes Paleface hid the gold, and so Junior must try to figure it out, while falling for “Mike” Delroy (Jane Russell), who is the owner of a bar in town (and the richest lady in the territory, who might also be able to help him pay the bills after they are married, or so he thinks)! Again, much further would be spoiling too much.

There is no shortage of comedic highlights in this movie, either. Trigger steals the show, with a number of comedic moments opposite Hope (just don’t ask him who he slept with 😉 ). Watching Hope drink the “Paleface Special” at the bar is definitely something to be seen and enjoyed. Hope’s travels on his car, whether coming into town, driving through the desert to go find the gold, or to escape the Indians out to get him for revenge, all are general laugh riots.

Here are my thoughts on the pair of movies. There is no worldbuilding here, and the stories aren’t really connected, so you could watch either one without needing to see the other. And while Son may be a sequel in name, it could be debated, since it seems to be like everything they have to say about Painless/Paleface goes against a lot of his character from the first movie (not to mention nothing is made of the fact that Junior falls for a woman who looks exactly like his mother).

There is a difference in tone between the two movies as well. Paleface plays with a sense of realism (except for a few things that seem somewhat unrealistic). Son? I once heard it described as a “live-action cartoon,” and that is the best way I can think of to describe it, as SO much of the movie borders on unrealistic (but it works VERY well for me). Paleface also plays mostly as a straight comedy, with two songs to deviate. Son is very much a musical (just don’t expect any fancy dancing here, though), bringing back the song “Buttons and Bows” from the first movie (with a few new lyrics), along with quite a few others. I’m assuming the change in tone between movies stems from the fact that a writer on the first film, Frank Tashlin, hated what the director Norman McLeod did with the first movie, and so decided to direct (and co-write) the second movie. Of course, in both movies, Bob Hope is full of quips along with his tendency to break the fourth wall (although he does so more in the second film than in the first one). I personally think there is fun to be had with both movies, and it ultimately depends on what type of comedy I may be in the mood for as to which I prefer, but I do recommend them both (of course, I will admit neither exactly treats the Indian characters well, but considering both were western parodies, that is to be expected for the time they were made).

As to availability, Paleface remains available on dvd, either alone, as part of a double-feature, or in several multi-film sets from Universal or as part of a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. Son of Paleface is available on dvd from a number of companies or on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

And with that, I think I’ll end with another Bob Hope quote, this time from Son Of Paleface:

‘Magna cum Laude! That’s Latin meaning, “If you folks drive home after the show, be sure and use a car!”’

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

The Paleface

Film Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Road To Rio (1947)Bob Hope (here) (update) – The Lemon Drop Kid (1951)

Jane Russell (here) (update) – Son Of Paleface (1952)

Son Of Paleface

Film Length: 1 hour, 35 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

My Favorite Spy (1951)Bob HopeRoad To Bali (1952)

The Paleface (1948) (here) (update) – Jane Russell – Underwater! (1955)

Melody Time (1948) – Roy Rogers – Alias Jesse James (1959)

Here Comes The Groom (1951)Bing CrosbyRoad To Bali (1952)