HTF REVIEW: "Bob Hope Tribute Collection"

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Feb 18, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    The Bob Hope Tribute Collection

    I have spent the past few days being entertained
    with a few of the DVD titles that make up Universal's
    Bob Hope Tribute Collection.
    I am a little ashamed to admit that I never really
    took interest in Bob Hope films during my childhood.
    I was more of a Marx Brothers fan, enjoying their
    untamed lunacy more than any other comics of their
    period.
    But watching these Bob Hope titles for the very
    first time, I am thrown back to that same enchantment
    I had with comedy that was simple -- and funny!
    Many of these Bob Hope films represent films
    released during a a period of time when Americans
    really needed to laugh. As America was recovering
    from a depression and entering the second World War,
    these were films that became escapism for audiences.
    Filled with cute songs and quick-witted humor, they
    were the perfect entertainment antidote. The pairing
    of Crosby and Hope was perfect. They sang, danced
    and had a wonderful time on and off the set poking
    fun at each other with great one-liners.
    Universal is releasing 8 DVDs that salute Bob Hope,
    one of America's most treasured entertainers. The
    films include: Road to Singapore, Road to Morocco,
    Road to Zanzibar, Road to Utopia, The Ghost Breakers,
    The Paleface, The Big Broadcast of 1938/College Swing,
    and My Favorite Blonde/Star Spangled Rhythm.
    I had the pleasure of watching 5 of these DVDs
    and will now talk a little about each.
    [​IMG]
    Released in 1940, Road to Singapore became
    the very first of a string of "road" pictures for
    Crosby, Hope and Lamour. Josh Mallon (Bing) escapes
    his stuffy rich life and pending marriage to link up
    with his sailor buddy, Ace (Hope) and sail for Singapore.
    It is there the boys live the good life until they
    meet Mima (Lamour), a local dancer who enchants them
    both.
    I thought the film was good, though certainly
    not the best of the series.
    Extras on the disc include:
    Bob Hope and the Road to success is a
    13-minute documentary produced by Universal Studios
    that gives background on Bob Hopes rise to stardom.
    Told through 2 book authors and friend Phyllis Diller,
    we learn about Bob's early vaudeville career and how
    his flexibility in singing, dancing and comic performance
    made him the bond of the road show team.
    Entertaining the troops takes us further
    through Hope's career as we watch him entertain the
    overseas soldiers at the USO. It's amazing to see
    how much Bob Hope gave to these soldiers, often
    traveling under dangerous conditions doing things he
    didn't have to do. The truth is, Bob wanted to do
    whatever he could wherever he was needed the most.
    Through archival footage, we see many clips of Bob
    and his ever-growing troupe of actors performing for
    the soldiers. After the shows, Bob would visit the
    hospitals to see the sick. He was the voice of home
    for these men, and he was greatly loved by all of them.
    This 5 minute segment is abruptly too short, but
    nonetheless, is very touching,
    You can sing along to Sweet Potato Piper as
    Bing's scene is played out with subtitled text.
    A Photograph Gallery shows us many production
    and poster stills, as well as some terrific pictures
    of off-set antics. Three minutes of clips are shown
    against the film's score. You cannot click through
    them manually.
    The film's original Theatrical trailer is
    included as well as Production Notes and
    Cast and Filmmaker bios.
    [​IMG]
    Road to Morocco became the third film in
    the "road" series. Released in 1942, it tells the
    story of shipwrecked stowaways Jeff (Crosby) and
    Orville (Hope) who ride across the desert and end
    up in Morocco. It is there that Crosby schemes to
    sell Hope into slavery to a princess (Lamour), who
    ultimately must choose between either man.
    With each new "road" picture, the comedy duo
    becomes more creative. The jokes are much funnier
    this time out and I really enjoyed this film.
    Extras on the disc include:
    Bob Hope and the Road to Success: Same
    documentary that appears on all the "road" DVDs.
    See review above.
    Command Performance 1945 were shows that
    were filmed in Hollywood, and sent to the troops
    in the field. This Army-Navy screen magazine
    shows Hope giving one hell of a monologue, poking
    fun at everything -- including Bing Crosby.
    Sing along to The Road to Morocco as
    the scene is replayed with text on the screen.
    Production photos, posters, lobby cards and
    off-screen antics are the highlights of the
    included Photograph Gallery. There is
    three minutes of material shown against the
    film's score.
    The film's original Theatrical trailer is
    included as well as Production Notes and
    Cast and Filmmaker bios.
    [​IMG]
    My absolute favorite of all the "road" pictures
    is Road to Utopia. Released in 1946, this
    is the story of Bing and Hope who pose as two
    escaped killers in hopes of finding a secret gold
    mine. Lamour is back as the daughter of the owner
    of the map to the mine.
    Although most all the "road" pictures managed to
    break down the 4th wall, this one did it the best.
    Road to Utopia was the most fun of all the
    pictures, as it poked fun at Paramount studios,
    gave us a talking fish and talking bear, and even
    interrupted commentary by humorist Robert Benchley.
    Extras on the disc include:
    Bob Hope and the Road to Success: Same
    documentary that appears on all the "road" DVDs.
    See review above.
    Produced by Paramount Pictures, Hollywood
    Victory Caravan is an all-star War short
    that is absolutely terrific! The story of a
    young woman who goes to Paramount Studios to
    seek Bing Crosby's help is full of cameo
    appearance's by the industries biggest stars
    (including Humphrey Bogart). Filled with comedy,
    singing and dancing, this is a terrific piece of
    film history that shows us how the studios actively
    participated in the wartime bond drive.
    A Photograph Gallery shows us poster art,
    lobby cards and production photos on and off the
    set. Three minutes of photos are shown against
    the film's upbeat score.
    The film's original Theatrical trailer is
    included as well as Production Notes and
    Cast and Filmmaker bios.
    Taking a break from the "road" pictures, I
    ventured into two of Bob Hope's solo films....
    [​IMG]
    I found The Ghost Breakers to be a
    neat, spooky film that doesn't have as many
    laughs as the "road" movies that followed it,
    but has an atmosphere to it that makes it a
    memorable spook film.
    Larry Lawrence (Hope), a radio broadcaster,
    is running away from the mob and a murder that
    he did not commit. He meets up with Mary
    Carter (Paulette Goddard), hides in her trunk,
    and is smuggled aboard a ship heading for Cuba.
    You see, Mary has inherited a haunted castle and
    Larry has volunteered to investigate its validity.
    I really enjoyed this film. This is the kind
    of film that black-and-white was made for. It's
    very spooky and filled with effects that I found
    to be quite inventive for a film of its time.
    Extras Include:
    Entertaining The Troops: Same documentary
    that appears on Road to Singapore. See
    review above.
    Command Performance of 1944, shows us
    a weekly program filled in Hollywood and shipped
    strictly to the men overseas. Hosting the show
    is Bob Hope who gives us a rousing monologue and
    introductions to guest stars such as Lana Turner,
    Betty Hutton and Judy Garland. Unfortunately, the
    guest clips are only highlighted and we get robbed
    of watching Garland and Hope together.
    Hollywood Victory Caravan is the same
    war short that is included on the Road to Utopia
    DVD. Please read that review above.
    A Photograph Gallery shows us many production
    and poster stills, as well as some terrific pictures
    of off-set antics. Three minutes of clips are shown
    against the film's score. You cannot click through
    them manually.
    The film's original Theatrical trailer is
    included as well as Production Notes and
    Cast and Filmmaker bios.
    [​IMG]
    The only color film of this collection, The
    Paleface is a wild romp that stars Hope as
    "Painless" Peter Potter who is seduced into a
    quickie marriage by Calamity Jane (Jane Russell).
    The two are a mismatched pair that set out into
    Indian country where they are nearly burned at
    the stake.
    I understand that this is one of Hope's most
    popular films, but yet, it wasn't nearly as fun
    as the "road" pictures I had previously watched.
    Still, the film looks incredible in a pristine
    Technicolor transfer.
    Extras Include:
    Entertaining The Troops: See the review
    of Road to SIngapore
    Command Performance 1945: See the review
    of Road to Morocco
    There is a "Buttons & Bows" sing-along the
    film's musical sequence with text subtitling.
    The film's original Theatrical trailer is
    included as well as Production Notes and
    Cast and Filmmaker bios.
    How do the transfers look?
    All the films are presented full-frame (1.33:1).
    The B&W transfers all look quite good, with
    marginal film blemishes.
    The sound on all the films are mono, but sound
    quite good.
    Special mention must go to the absolutely
    pristine Technicolor transfer of The Paleface,
    which just looks gorgeous. I so much miss Technicolor,
    and just marvel at it when DVD reproduces it as well
    as this.
    Final Thoughts
    Why Universal is releasing these Paramount titles
    is beyond me. I can't see how the studio lost the
    rights to such wonderful films that were a staple
    of the studio's standing during that era.
    The good news is that Universal has probably
    done more for these films on DVD than Paramount
    would ever have if they released it themselves.
    Although the discs have added material that
    is mostly highlighted and repeats itself across
    multiple titles, it is still historical material
    that is a welcome sight to see.
    I didn't mention that Universal has also included
    DVD-ROM content on these discs as well. I tried
    to look at the content for review purposes, but
    unfortunately, I am having compatibility issues.
    I had a lot of fun watching some of the DVDs
    that make up The Bob Hope Tribute Collection.
    At about 90 minutes per film, they are easy to watch
    and easy to laugh at.
    Release Date: March 5, 2002
     
  2. Roland Wandinger

    Roland Wandinger Stunt Coordinator

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    I only know "The Ghost Breakers" which I own on LD of all the Bob Hope movies in your review. I absolutely love this movie!

    Guess I'll have to pick them all up on DVD!
     
  3. Adam Gregorich

    Owner

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    Thanks for the review Ron! I really enjoy Bob Hope films. Upto now most have been poor quality DVDs. I am glad that someone is starting to take care of older comedy classics on DVD. Isn't the Big Broadcast of 1398 the first movie where he sang what was to become his trademark song "Thanks for the Memories"? By the way Bob Hope has a pretty good website at http://www.Bobhope.com
     
  4. Bob Graham

    Bob Graham Supporting Actor

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    "Why Universal is releasing these Paramount titles

    is beyond me. I can't see how the studio lost the

    rights to such wonderful films that were a staple

    of the studio's standing during that era."

    Ron,

    Paramount didn't lose the rights to their library, they gave them away. In the early days of tv, Universal picked up the distribution rights to virtually all pre-1950 Paramount product. I imagine that someone at Paramount thought it was a good deal at the time (just like Murray Wilson thought there was no market for Beach Boys classics after 1968 and sold the publication rights without telling Brian)especially copnsidering that no one could forsee the existence of home video. Paramount retains the rights to a handful of titles (they remade "Miracle of Morgan's Creek" as "Rock-A-Bye Baby", so they retain those rights-they probably had to buy them back).

    In retrospect, it seems like a bonehead play, but as you suggest in your review, Universal has done right by the Paramount titles they have released and seems much more amenable to releasing classic titles on DVD. Now if we could just convince Universal that there is a market for "Hellzapoppin" and the other Olson and Johnson comedies.
     
  5. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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  6. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

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    To clarify, Paramount sold its entire library of sound feature films released prior to October 31, 1949 to MCA, Inc. in 1956 for a relatively small amount of money. Included were all rights including remake and sequel rights. The shorts were not included in this deal, nor were silent films. Certain features were excluded from the deal due to various reasons. MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK was considered too risque for TV, so Paramount kept that. Pictures that Hal Wallis or Bob Hope had financial interests were also not sold such as THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS, SORRY WRONG NUMBER, I WALK ALONE (Wallis), and ROAD TO RIO, MY FAVORITE BRUNETTE (Hope). The Hope pictures reverted to Hope's company (who apparently neglected to renew the copyrights) and there were also two others Paramount kept, THE PERILS OF PAULINE and THE BUCCANEER (1938) the latter of which Paramount was remaking at the time of this deal.

    When MCA purchased these films they had not yet obtained ownership of Universal. Thus, when they did so in the early 1960s, these pre-'49 Paramount features became property of Universal.

    It is indeed great to see Universal doing something with these titles, as their early features from both the Para and Univ libraries have been virtually ignored on an overall basis for the last 25 years, save the more famous titles of the Horror genre or the films of the Marx Bros., Mae West, WC Fields, and Hope & Crosby.

    Let's hope this Bob Hope release does well enough to encourage Universal to release more classic films, especially the great Paramount films of the '30s and '40s.
     
  7. Jae E

    Jae E Agent

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    I too am glad to see these get a decent treatment. I'm also hoping they'll get around to releasing "Monsieur Beaucaire" and "Casanova's Big Night"!
     

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