One of Bob Hope’s best comic-thriller vehicles, My Favorite Blonde benefits from its semi-serious spy-thriller ambiance, tolerably cogent plot, scene-stealing penguin, and above all one of the more human, less caricatured, less one-dimensionally narcissistic characters in Hope’s movie oeuvre.
That character is Larry Haines, a vaudeville player whose trained-penguin act has him Hollywood bound — until he gets mixed up with a mysterious blonde named Karen Bentley (Madeleine Carroll, of the original The 39 Steps). Unbeknowst to Haines, Bentley is a British agent desperately trying to get time-sensitive intelligence information past a cadre of determined Nazi pursuers led by Gail Sondergaard and George Zucco. (That the plot never permits Bentley to demonstrate a credible level of espionage acumen is one of the film’s chief weaknesses.)
Typical screwball zaniness ensues, but the picture doesn’t really hit its stride until Haines finally learns what’s going on. This leads to one of the movie’s funniest sequences, a hilarious escape from a hotel room where they’ve been cornered. Shortly afterward, there’s a rare moment of soul-searching and moral feeling from a Bob Hope character, with Haines vacillating between manhood and mousehood. And when boy finally gets girl, for once there’s a sense that Haines’s feelings for Bentley don’t begin and end with the physical.
Seven years ago, after nearly six decades of marriage to an active Roman Catholic, Bob Hope was received into the Catholic Church, and became a frequent communicant. His funeral Mass was celebrated on July 30 at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in North Hollywood, and on Sunday, August 3, he was remembered at a memorial Mass celebrated by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C. at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
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).
This time out the boys take their Road act to Arabian Nights territory, where, as usual, they sing (especially Bing), crack wise (especially Bob), and vie over Lamour, who again has an agenda of her own. The story, which is taken about as seriously as the plot of a typical Looney Tunes cartoon, has Bing and Bob shipwrecked and washed up on the road to Morocco.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.