We’ve got yet another Bob Hope comedy! This time, it’s the 1942 film that set out to prove that Bob Hope considered actress Madeleine Carroll “My Favorite Blonde!”
Coming Up Shorts! with… T.V. Of Tomorrow (1953)
(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)
(Length: 7 minutes, 7 seconds)
We are shown the many innovations of the television of tomorrow. Another funny cartoon, even if it is a little dated, as the technology ideas revolve around what TV was like back then. Of course, it throws in a joke about not being able to find much on, as it jokes about westerns being on everywhere (which wasn’t far from the truth not long after this short was created). I had a few good laughs seeing Tex Avery’s usual type of gags as he made fun of television, and certainly look forward to revisiting this one in the future! Only problem with this short is some audio issues at the very beginning of the short (they don’t prevent you from understanding everything, but you can tell there’s something wrong, just the same).
And Now For The Main Feature…
Everything is starting to look good for vaudevillian Larry Haines (Bob Hope). He’s part of an act with his penguin, Percy. Hollywood has come a-calling for Percy, and Larry has a job on that picture as Percy’s trainer. But things start to go awry when he meets Karen Bentley (Madeleine Carroll). She decides to go along with him to Los Angeles, which he doesn’t mind at first. But, then she starts acting a little crazy, which drives him nuts. What he doesn’t know, though, is that she is a British agent who needs to deliver a flight plan for American bombers to somebody in Chicago, but she is being chased by enemy agents. As he gets on a train, she pins the plans (contained in a scorpion medallion) on his coat and leaves, planning to catch up with him later. The enemy agents get on the train with Larry and intimidate him when he is in the club car (although he is able to get away before they can do anything further). After another train stop, Karen catches up with him and continues the trip to Chicago with Larry. When he changes his coat, she steals his luggage (to get the coat that had the scorpion pinned on it) and runs off. She goes to an apartment (with Larry following), where she discovers that an agent she was supposed to meet has been murdered. With Larry trying to take back his suitcase, Karen now has no choice but to tell him the truth. Although he is unwilling to accept it at first, he believes her when, upon trying to leave, a knife is thrown at him (and misses). Karen knows she needs to go on with the scorpion, but is unsure of how to get out of the apartment with the enemy agents lying in wait. Larry quickly gets an idea to stage a wife-beating incident in the hopes that they will get a police escort out of there (which they do). As the police escort them to jail, Larry and Karen decide to make up in a sickeningly sweet manner, which results in the police letting them go. Of course, the enemy wasn’t idle during that time, as they decided to call the police themselves and report the murder of the other agent, blaming Larry for it. With a new manhunt on for the two of them, Larry and Karen must stay on the run as they continue towards L.A. Can they make it in time to get the flight plans delivered, or will the enemy agents win out?
In the early 1940s, comedian Bob Hope had a bit of a crush on actress Madeleine Carroll, which he used to really talk up on his radio show. Figuring the free publicity would help her career, she asked to be on his radio show, and then he took things a step further by asking her to be in My Favorite Blonde. Of course, the film ended up spoofing some of the types of thrillers that Alfred Hitchcock was known for at the time (including the 1935 film The 39 Steps, which Madeleine Carroll had starred in). My Favorite Blonde turned out to be another hit, and one that started yet another series for star Bob Hope, with My Favorite Brunette (1947) and My Favorite Spy (1951) following.
I’ve had the opportunity to see this one many times over the last two decades, and it’s one I enjoy coming back to periodically! Bob is funny, as usual, with his quips providing much of the humor (especially those insulting his Road movies co-star Bing Crosby). And, speaking of Crosby, he makes the first of what would become many cameo appearances in Bob’s films (and causing Bob’s character to do a double-take). Of course, there are other fun moments, too, whether it be any of the times that Madeleine Carroll’s Karen changes her character in front of the enemy agents, all the while making Bob’s Larry think that she’s flipped her lid. Then there’s the moment on the train where the enemy agents just sit there in the club car, intimidating Larry (and all while not doing anything more than staring intensely at him). And, speaking of those agents, they are well-cast, with Gale Sondergaard continuing to show how good she is as a villainess in creeping others out. It’s not a spy movie, at least, not in the way most would think in an era where we have the likes of James Bond, the Bourne franchise, or any number of action films. Still, it’s an entertaining ride, and well worth giving a chance!
This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics, featuring a new 2K master. The transfer looks pretty good, for the most part. There are some shots that don’t look as good (particularly some of the foggy scenes early in the movie), but I suspect a lot of that has to do with the limitations of the source elements used. It’s still a huge improvement over what was previously available, with most of the dirt and debris cleaned up, so I would definitely say it’s the best way to enjoy this movie!
Film Length: 1 hour, 18 minutes
My Rating: 9/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Nothing But The Truth (1941) – Bob Hope – Road To Morocco (1942)
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