Saturday, August 19, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Son of Paleface (1952) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Bob Hope, Jane Russell, and Roy Rogers star in SON OF PALEFACE (1952), which is being released on DVD and Blu-ray by Kino Lorber on August 29th.

SON OF PALEFACE is the sequel to Hope and Russell's THE PALEFACE (1948), with Hope playing Peter Potter Jr., son of the original film's Peter "Painless" Potter (Hope) and Calamity Jane (Russell). In SON OF PALEFACE Russell plays Mike "The Torch" Delroy, a saloon singer/stagecoach robber who's being tracked by Marshal Roy Barton (Rogers).

Peter Jr. graduates from college and heads West to collect his inheritance, after which the lovely but greedy Penelope (Jean Willes) has agreed to marry him. Peter arrives in California but finds his father left him an empty trunk. Peter brazens it out, telling townspeople owed money by his father that he's rich and will be paying off their debts soon. Then Peter Jr. and Ebenezer Hawkins (Paul E. Burns) launch a hunt for the missing fortune.

Meanwhile Peter Jr., having been dumped by Penelope via telegraph, falls head over heels for gorgeous Mike after seeing her singing. Mike and her henchmen (including Bill Williams), who have an elaborate hideaway, are being followed by Roy and his fellow marshal (Lloyd Corrigan).

Along with the comedy gags and action there's some music scattered throughout, including the Oscar-nominated "Am I in Love," plus Russell and Rogers reprising the original movie's Oscar-winning "Buttons and Bows."

In all honesty the movie is sillier than I generally like, stretching out a thin story over 95 minutes, but there are some good gags, including (of course) a cameo at movie's start by Bing Crosby. One of my favorite jokes comes at the very end, when Roy is saying goodbye and Trigger rears up on his hind legs -- followed by Peter's car rearing up on its back tires! The coda about Peter and Mike's family is pretty funny as well.

Roy, with a rifle hidden in his guitar, plays it endearingly straight and was one of my favorite things about the movie. In an unintentionally funny moment, Rogers' stuntman is clearly a different person, seen almost full face in a couple of shots. Perhaps it was thought it would go by so fast on a big screen that no one would notice -- yet with that screen being so much bigger than a TV, you'd think the stuntman's face would be even easier to spot!

Incidentally, there are some great shots of Iverson Ranch, including a "day for night" sequence early in the film. I enjoy recognizing Iverson locations since visiting the area last November.

Kino Lorber's SON OF PALEFACE Blu-ray print is spectacular and adds a great deal to the movie experience. Even when Hope was growing wearisome for me, Harry J. Wild's shots of Russell with her gowns in eye-popping Technicolor made the movie a pleasant watch.

SON OF PALEFACE was directed by Frank Tashlin, who had also directed Hope's THE LEMON DROP KID (1951) and would later direct another very colorful film, SUSAN SLEPT HERE (1954).

The Blu-ray includes a commentary track by Greg Ford and an eight-minute stop-motion animated short which was also directed by Tashlin, THE LADY SAID NO (1946). Ford's commentary track is pleasant, although he frequently falls silent for chunks of time and relies overly much on simply restating what's happening onscreen.

THE LADY SAID NO was considered "lost"; although made in Technicolor, most of the short has been reconstructed from a black and white "dupe" print. Made in the style of George Pal's Puppetoons, it's cute and tuneful; it comes with an optional commentary track.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.

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