Where There’s Life……………(There’s Hope) (1947)
Hope as in the comedian with the ski sloped nose who goes by the name Bob.
Once again under the Paramount banner we have a Bob Hope programmer that is sure to get a laugh from Bob’s fans with his cowardly self deprecating humor. This time out he’s pegged as the heir to the throne of a far off country called Barovia that is in constant turmoil over a struggle for power within the monarchy.
After setting the plot in motion with word from a dying king that he has a long lost son in New York who is the true heir to the throne we find our would be hero as a disc jockey who loves shelling dog food over the air waves. He’s engaged to Vera Marsche who just happens to have a tough “mug” of a brother on the local police force played by the always dependable William Bendix. He’s far from excited at having Bob for his future brother in law.
Leading lady Signe Hasso doing her best Garbo imitation here actually plays a General from Barovia who along with other delegates have come to sneak Bob onto a plane and quietly into the palace. There he is expected to be the reigning King until the next assassination. That is of course if they can even get him that far. Nasty George Zucco has dispatched a syndicate of killers to take Bob out immediately. Among the hitmen we’ll find one of my favorite “faces”, Anthony Caruso.
With Hope thinking this is all one crazy mistake he soon realizes these foreigners are playing for keeps when a knife turns up in the back of one of his handlers. He’s running from the killers while at the same time is worried that big bad Bendix is going to rearrange his nose for not showing up at his own wedding leaving Marsche waiting at the altar.
On one hand Bob’s playing scared while on the other he’s beginning to fall for the icy cold Hasso. When she begins coming around to Bob he’s sure to have issues with Bendix. William Bendix is a perfect straight man to many of Bob’s wisecracks. “What a Mother in law you’d make.” The dog food quips are also a perfect match when Hope looks at Bendix’s St. Bernard type face.
Bodies begin piling up and if only Bob can get Bendix to believe his far out story of Royal kidnappers and a gang of men out to assassinate him he may make it to the final reel of this rather short programmer at 75 minutes.
No classic here but I’ll tune into any Hope film. I think his films are generally funny with his one liners and of course I am always looking for his poke at Bing Crosby and yes it’s in here. Bob had a healthy career of playing a coward who somehow comes through in the end.
While some of the gags don’t quite work out or are stretched too far it’s Signe Hasso who has no screen presence whatsoever. Give me Virginia Mayo or Dorothy Lamour with Bob and I’d be much happier.
Bendix could play it tough in gangster features but proved adept at playing straight man to the likes of Hope and Lou Costello among others. He’d even turn up in a Bing Crosby winner two years later, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court singing right along with “The Bing.” Benidx is exactly the type of character player I love to champion and while mostly a costar it’s nice to see that he went on to become a popular face in both film and later on television in The Life of Riley.
This title is out there on DVD as part of a Bob Hope series from Universal.