on November 10, 2010
This sparkling collection of Bob Hope movies showed how Hope reached top stardom and would stay there for the next 30 years. Thanks For The Memories (1938) is an OK programmer that reunited him with Shirley Ross. But The Cat And The Canary (1939) finds 35-year old Hope at the peak of his game. It's an old haunted house comedy thriller that plays beautifully today and contains some of his best gags. Never before out on DVD, it's an opulent production with the complete recreation of an Louisiana bayou and creepy housekeeper played to the hilt by Gale Sondergaard with Paulette Goddard as Hope's comedy foil. Sample Line "Don't you feel scared in this empty, dark house?" Hope:" No, I've played vaudeville." Hope and Goddard were immediately reteamed for another haunted house classic The Ghost Breakers with a cast that includes Anthony Quinn and future Oscar winner Paul Lukas. In his hotel hears a clap of thunder and wonders "Is Basil Rathbone giving a party?" Up next is Nothing But The Truth (1941) with Goddard again and Hope forced to only tell the truth for an entire day so he'll inherit money. THe first four are new to DVD followed by the enjoyable Road To Morocco (1942) with Hope, Crosby and Lamour and the Technicolored pairing of Hope and Jane Russell in the spoof western The Paleface (1948). Certainly, it's one of Hope's best ever performances. The lines are extra funny because his radio writers extensively rewrote the dialogue. The entire collection is a must see.
on December 12, 2015
I won't rate the movies themselves, just their visual quality.
I'm disappointed in the packaging as it's the same hard-to-get-the-disc-out junk as the Indiana Jones Complete Adventures Blu-ray box set. The only reason I bought this was because it offers movies found nowhere else or quality not found anywhere else. With DVDs being so inexpensive to produce (and for the price) why couldn't we get 6 movies on 6 DVDs instead of just 3 DVDs? Each movie is anywhere from 3.2 GB to 3.7 GB in size. Seems low, however all movies but 'The Paleface' are in black and white, so it's not terrible. The movies look clear with the exception of 'The Ghost Breakers'. It's utter crap. Too much contrast and blurry. The Tribute Collection standalone version of 'The Ghost Breakers', which I also own, is superior. It's much sharper and is 5 GB in size.
Anyway, I'm very happy that I finally have all three Hope/Goddard movies on DVD. Maybe one day they'll be released on Blu-ray or UHD, but I doubt it. DVD is probably the end of the line for Bob Hope flicks.
on June 18, 2014
This is a well-produced collection of Bob Hope films, containing both famous and lesser-known (but still very worthy) movies. It is filled with period extras related to Hope and to the 1940s era. It makes for a pleasant journey back to a more innocent time in both movies and general culture, when one had to be witty rather than crude to make people laugh.
In picture quality, all the films look pretty good, except for The Ghost Breakers, which has a lot of sparkles and generally poor quality at the beginning of the film, though the quality improves as the film moves on. Whether the stand-alone DVD of Ghost Breakers has a better picture quality, I cannot say. However, I can confirm that this edition of Ghost Breakers has the full 85 minutes of the film (some editions are listed at only 81 minutes).
Cat and the Canary is a modest update of the silent version, made a little snappier in the sound version with the addition of some of Hope's one-liners; a case could be made, however, that the silent version is at least equally as good.
The Ghost Breakers is a reasonably entertaining number, though I think it is not as good as Hold That Ghost! by Abbott and Costello. Of course, the A & C number, like the Hope film, has serious plot holes. Neither film is as good as Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, still the greatest of the horror/comedy genre.
The film that shows its age the most, in terms of comic style, is Road to Morocco. I grew up watching the old Road films on TV in the 1960s, with my parents, and as a young lad found them funny, but now I find the plots just too far-fetched. Of course there are individual good comic moments, and the lavish production is impressive, but this sort of film just no longer has the power to engage me.
The Paleface, with Jane Russell, is a bit more interesting, with the amusing reversal of leadership between tough gal Jane and softie Bob, and a half-interesting plot, though the final resolution is contrived.
The gem of the collection, for me, is Nothing But the Truth, a comedy reminiscent of Sturges or Capra in style, with great supporting actors (some of who had been used by Sturges and/or Capra), and very well done. I had never heard of it before, but now rank it high among comedies of this type.
Finally, Thanks for the Memory, a sort of bittersweet comedy, with a mixture of classic Hope one-liners and a more serious reflection on love and marriage, was also completely new to me, and was a pleasant surprise, giving variety to the collection, and in its tenderness balancing out the Crosby-Hope buffoonery of Road to Morocco. Of all the items in the collection it seems to be the one least aimed at mass taste, and most dedicated merely to telling a touching and funny story.
I'd give the films here an average of maybe 7.6 out of 10, for maybe 3.5 stars, but because of the handsomeness of the collection, its good balance in selection, the good picture quality, and the extras, I give it 4 stars.