Bob Hope isn't my idea of a funny guy, but those who do enjoy Hope's on-screen antics are in for a treat on Turner Classic Movies on Sunday, Aug. 8, '10.
Notable among those are two TCM premieres: Elliott Nugent's Nothing But the Truth (1941), co-starring the always delightful Paulette Goddard, and Sidney Lanfield's Where There's Life (1947), in which Hope's leading lady is the underrated Signe Hasso – who that same year was excellent playing opposite Ronald Colman in George Cukor's A Double Life.
In Nothing But the Truth, Hope plays a businessman who must tell the truth for 24 hours. (There have been numerous variations on this premise, from No, No Nanette to Liar, Liar.) This Paramount comedy – the third Goddard-Hope effort, following The Cat and the Canary (1939) and The Ghost Breakers (1940) – boasts an excellent supporting cast that includes Rose Hobart, Mary Forbes, Helen Vinson, and Catherine Doucet.
Written by Melville Shavelson, who was responsible for a number of Hope showcases, Where There's Life follows the American heir to an European throne who must flee from assassins.
Fans of the Road to… movies will be able to enjoy five of those: Road to Singapore, Road to Zanzibar, Road to Morocco, Road to Utopia, and Road to Bali. Personally, I'd rather take a different route. Once in Singapore, Zanzibar, Morocco, and Utopia with Hope and Bing Crosby was more than enough. (Haven't been to Bali, yet. Not sure if I ever will.)
As far as I'm concerned, Dorothy Lamour is those film's saving grace in more ways than one, but she usually isn't on-screen long enough. The focus is chiefly on the two guys.
I haven't seen either Bachelor in Paradise (1961), with Lana Turner, or A Global Affair (1964), but neither is considered to be among Hope's best. Two from that period that I have seen, I'll Take Sweden (1965) and Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! (1964) are simply dreadful. I'd recommend these two only to die-hard Hope fans.
Critic's Choice (1963) isn't great, but it has Lucille Ball, Marilyn Maxwell, and a few good moments here and there.
Dorothy Lamour, Bob Hope, Road to Morocco
Schedule and synopses from the TCM website:
3:00 AM Bachelor In Paradise (1961)
A writer moves into a housing development to study married couples. Cast: Bob Hope, Lana Turner, Janis Paige. Dir.: Jack Arnold. Color. 109 min.
6:30 AM I'll Take Sweden (1965)
A widower takes a job in Stockholm to get his daughter away from her boyfriend. Cast: Bob Hope, Tuesday Weld, Frankie Avalon. Dir.: Frederick de Cordova. Color. 97 min.
8:08 AM Short Film: Stockholm “Pride Of Sweden” (1937)
In this “Traveltalk,” we learn about Stockholm's people, culture, and history. Color. 9 min.
8:30 AM Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! (1966)
A real estate agent tries to keep a runaway movie star hidden from the press-and his wife. Cast: Bob Hope, Elke Sommer, Phyllis Diller. Dir.: George Marshall. Color. 99 min.
10:15 AM Road to Singapore (1940)
A runaway tycoon and his sailor buddy try to con their way through the South Seas. Cast: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour. Dir.: Victor Schertzinger. Black and white. 85 min.
11:45 AM Road to Zanzibar (1941)
A lady con artist scams two out-of-work entertainers into financing a safari. Cast: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour. Dir.: Victor Schertzinger. Black and white. 91 min.
1:30 PM Road to Utopia (1946)
Two song-and-dance men on the run masquerade as killers during the Alaskan gold rush. Cast: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour. Dir.: Hal Walker. Black and white. 90 min.
3:15 PM Road to Bali (1952)
Two song-and-dance men on the run dive for treasure while competing for a beautiful princess. Cast: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour. Dir.: Hal Walker. Color. 91 min.
5:00 PM Road to Morocco (1942)
Two castaways get mixed up in an Arabian nightmare when they're caught between a bandit chief and a beautiful princess. Cast: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour. Dir.: David Butler. Black and white. 82 min.
6:30 PM Nothing But the Truth (1941)
A businessman bets he can tell the truth for 24 hours. Cast: Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, Edward Arnold. Dir.: Elliott Nugent. Black and white. 90 min.
8:15 PM Where There's Life (1947)
The American heir to a European throne tries to elude assassins. Cast: Bob Hope, Signe Hasso, William Bendix. Dir.: Sidney Lanfield. Black and white. 74 min.
9:45 PM Alias Jesse James (1959)
An insurance agent lands in hot water when people mistake him for the infamous western outlaw. Cast: Bob Hope, Rhonda Fleming, Wendell Corey. Dir.: Norman Z. McLeod. Color. 92 min.
11:30 PM Critic's Choice (1963)
A Broadway critic must write a negative review about his wife's play. Cast: Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Maxwell. Dir.: Don Weis. Color. 100 min.
1:15 AM Call Me Bwana (1963)
A wisecracking fraud fights off enemy agents to retrieve a space capsule that crashed in Africa. Cast: Bob Hope, Anita Ekberg, Edie Adams. Dir.: Gordon Douglas. Color. 102 min.