Bob Hope, Virginia Mayo, Walter Brennan. Dir: David Butler
I am trying to approach this from an unbiased standpoint. You see, I love Bob Hope, he was one of my earliest boyfriends, but I recognize that there are those who do not. The fact that he had his own writing team go over most of the scripts for his movies and write Bob Hope style one-liners and wisecracks doesn’t sit well with those who don’t like his one-liners and wisecracks. I have to say, however, if there is a solid plot present, the one-liners and wisecracks work just fine. The Princess and the Pirate is one of those movies.
It’s my third favorite Hope film. Of course you are asking in your mind, “Well, Jennifer, what are the first two?” I will tell you, but I don’t want to throw focus, so once I do, you must forget. Mmkay? #1 is The Ghostbreakers (which was good enough to be somewhat adequately remade by Martin and Lewis as Scared Stiff) and #2 is Casanova’s Big Night. Now we can move on.
Now, I’m not a huge fan of Technicolor. “But Jennifer, WHY?” Good grief, you’re inquisitive today. Because- and let me preface this with the fact that red is my favorite color- because of the color red. It looks weird in Technicolor, and as time went on, it was abused. The movies got redder and redder and I can hardly watch movies from the 1950’s that are in Technicolor. This, I recognize, is a personal affliction of mine, but if you happen to share this affliction, you will be pleased to know that the visual aftertaste (I just made that phrase up) is not red. It is blue and yellow, but mostly blue. And that’s a good thing because blue in Technicolor is pretty nice.
Okay, ambiguous plot synopsis: you have a princess and you have a pirate and you have a cowardly actor. Guess which one of these is Bob. Guess which one is Mayo. There’s a map and some treasure. There’s a story line about a Princess/peasant romance and running away and stuff. I’m sorry if that wasn’t vague enough, but I’m not at all sorry if it was too vague. You need to believe me when I say you should watch it.
The following is very important to note: My teenaged daughter, who does not like classic movies, saw it a couple of years ago and told me that it didn’t suck. Now, if you convert that review into regular people language and then convert that into a numerically quantifiable expression, it goes something like this: Doesn’t suck = 4.5 stars out of 5. The only rating higher than this on the teenage scale is “it was okay.”
Normally I would tell you all kinds of facts about the film, but honestly, I really couldn’t come by many. I couldn’t find any quotes from the stars regarding the film either. I will have to resort to trivia about the individual stars. I can say that Virginia Mayo, who was lovely and talented and could sing and dance in real life, had her singing dubbed in this and all of her other singing roles. And I can say that Bob Hope turned down two movie roles that ultimately went to Cary Grant (Arsenic and Old Lace, Operation Petticoat). And not much else that the average normal person would find interesting. I mean everyone knows Bob waited until he had outlived George Burns before he died. Okay, no, they don’t know that, but I believe that with all my heart. I think he was like, “George died when he was 100 years and 49 days old, so I’m going to hold off on that until I’m at lease 100 years and 50 days, maybe even 59.” That’s how old he was, you see, and that is the contest that I made up. Let’s completely ignore Arthur Marx’s (son of Groucho) assertion that Hope lied about his age and was, in fact, a year older than he said. And with regard to Walter Brennan, I have yet to meet the person who doesn’t love him.
Look, I know I’m a little scattered in this recommendation, but clearly you must have gotten the notion that you should watch the film, if by no other fact than that I have written about it in my recommendations blog, so really, just watch it.