US, 1948, 91 minutes, Colour.
Bob Hope, Jane Russell.
Directed by Norman Z. Mc Leod.
One of Bob Hope's most engaging comedies. As a radio artist in the thirties emerging in films and as a comedian over many decades, Bob Hope is one of the century's greatest men of laughter. Jane Russell, who had arrived on the Hollywood scene with The Outlaw and other such films in the forties, provides good foil for Hope. She plays a reforming Calamity Jane. The writing was credited especially to Frank Tashlin who was to direct the sequel Son of Paleface, again with Hope and Jane Russell plus Roy Rogers and Trigger.
Tashlin was to direct many comedies including several for Jerry Lewis. The song Buttons and Bows won the Oscar for Best Song of 1948. Son of Paleface was a successful comedy - but was very reminiscent of the Road films. It included several clips and mimicking of other films and brought on Bing Crosby at the end. Paleface was re-made as a vehicle for comedian Don Knotts as The Shakiest Gun in the West.
1. An entertaining comedy? The appeal of Bob Hope and his style, routines? Jane Russell and her attraction? The humour of the plot, of the routines?
2. The Bob Hope character: Painless Potter the dentist, the comedy routines as dentist, as the would-be hero, the kissing routines, the shootings, the discovery of failure? The wisecracks? The perennial appeal of Bob Hope's style? How did he invest his character with life - and still seem Bob Hope in the west?
3. Colour photography, the studio west? Indians, cowboys? The visual jokes about night falling and dawn breaking? The contribution of the musical score and Bob Hope's rendition of Buttons and Bows?
4. The basic western story - dynamite being smuggled and sold to the Indians, the role of the Indians in the west, the Federal agent? Dangers and the final escape? The variations on the themes? the dentist on the run becoming a hero, the Federal agent as Calamity Jane seeking a pardon? The variations on the usual expected plot? Audience enjoyment of this?
5. Jane Russell as heroine? sharp shooter, on the alert, using her wits, teaming up with the dentist, the marriage, hitting him on the head each time he kissed, sending him out on difficult missions, saving his life with shooting? The final capture and her falling in love? The happy ending? The satire on Jane Russell’s image of the time?
6. The conventional presentation of the Indians? the laughing gas, the shootings, the witch doctor, the finale? The double dealers in dynamite and their betrayals? The people of the west?
7. The basic American themes of the western, the opening up of the west, courage, the frontiers? The perennial American values? even when they are presented satirically and with good humour?
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