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The Paleface – 1948 McLeod
- The Paleface is a great vehicle for comedian Bob Hope and former World War II pinup Jane Russell. As it would happen, it turns out she was a gifted comedienne as well.
- The film was co-written by Frank Tashlin (he would come out and say he disliked Norman McLeod’s direction of this film- and would go on to direct the sequel himself- Son of Paleface in 1952). McLeod had experience directing comedies though- including a few with the Marx Brothers in the 1930s (Monkey Business and Horse Feathers), W.C. Fields (It’s a Gift) and Cary Grant (Topper).
- Bob Hope is a known commodity in 1948 after his “Road to…” movies with Bing Crosby. These films were big successes. This is actually only Russell’s third film. Her famous/infamous debut was 1943’s The Outlaw with Howard Hughes and the ensuing scandal. She is spoofing her debut with her role here as Calamity Jane.
- Hope is such a pro- his weakling/coward schtick here is in the lineage of Charlie Chaplin down to Woody Allen. The two make for a great pair- he screams and jumps up into her arms. She is a beauty- but not a victim. Marilyn Monroe (Russell’s future co-star in Gentleman Prefer Blondes) was a strong comedienne as well but could not play the heroine side of this character Russell plays.
- Writing like “I’m going back east where men may not be men but they’re not corpses”. “Let me in- you’re too young to be a widow.” Hope’s false bravado is hilarious- “Anyone could have done it- anyone brave, courageous and who was a dead shot.” Hope wears goofy cowboy garb as he saunters into the Dirty Shame Saloon.
- This was a major production in 1948- still there were not many color films in 1948- and these are two World War II icons (Hope performing for the troops, and Russell on posters in many soldier’s bunks).
- “Buttons and Bows” song performed by Hope won the Oscar.
- Don Knotts vehicle The Shakiest Gun in the West in 1968 is a remake of this film.
- The film breezes by- it is engaging, funny, with action.
- Recommend but not in the top 10 of 1948