1946, Paramount. Directed by George Marshall. Bob Hope, Joan Caulfield, Patric Knowles, Marjorie Reynolds, Cecil Kellaway.
Decent Films Ratings
|?Teens & Up|
Content advisory: Mild farcical innuendo and romantic intrigue; comic menace and violence.
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A National Catholic Register "Video/DVD Picks" review.
By Steven D. Greydanus
An above-average Bob Hope costume comedy, Monsieur Beaucaire borrows its title and inspiration from a silent Rudolph Valentino romance-drama (which was in turn based on a novel and play by Booth Tarkington), but transforms the original premise of a duke disguised as a barber into a farce about a real barber and a duke who switch places.
Beaucaire (Hope) is barber to Louis XV of France — until the former’s romantic altercations with a chambermaid named Mimi (Joan Caulfield) inadvertently result in banishment for both Mimi and himself. At the same time, the king finds it expedient to rid the court of the Duc le Chandre, a renowned swordsman and celebrated ladies’ man, by making a political marriage between le Chandre and Princess Maria of Spain (Marjorie Reynolds).
Romantic and political intrigues collide as sinister forces conspire to draw Spain and France into war. As with the romantic comedies of Shakespeare, the plot involves parallel "upper-class" and "lower-class" storylines — the difference being that here the upper-class romance is in the background and the lower-class one in the foreground. Even so, the real duke provides a typical swashbuckling model of honor and heroism, contrasting nicely with Beaucaire’s churlish buffoonery.