Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Tonight's Movie: My Favorite Blonde (1942) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

MY FAVORITE BLONDE (1942) is one of a trio of Bob Hope films released on Blu-ray this month by Kino Lorber.

I've previously reviewed the other two films, CAUGHT IN THE DRAFT (1941), costarring Dorothy Lamour, and NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (1941), also starring Paulette Goddard.

I first saw MY FAVORITE BLONDE (1942) on VHS over a decade ago, in 2010, and I enjoyed circling back to it thanks to the new release. Having seen a number of Hope films in the intervening years, I think MY FAVORITE BLONDE is one of his best.

Hope plays Larry Haines, a vaudeville performer in New York whose partner Percy, a penguin (!), has just received an offer from Hollywood.

Into Larry's life -- or more specifically, his dressing room -- bursts elegant Madeleine Carroll as Karen Bentley, a British spy hiding from Nazi agents.

Larry ends up on the run with Karen -- initially reluctantly, but soon he's all in, helping Karen in her race to get critical secret documents to Los Angeles. It's a true "couple on the run" movie, as they are chased by both Nazis and police as they travel west via planes, trains, and automobiles, with a bus thrown in for good measure.

I like Hope best when he plays a more grounded character, as he does here. There's plenty of comedy, but most of it is plot-based, rather than Hope just firing off wisecracks. Along with the comedy -- and there are some very funny bits -- he has the chance to play some more serious moments, including a real love scene.

Carroll (THE 39 STEPS, THE PRISONER OF ZENDA) is lovely as the plucky spy, who bravely soldiers on despite constant threats to her life. That said, somehow she's not savvy enough to keep an eye on an airplane's gas tank, but in a way it works; otherwise she'd be almost too perfect to be believable opposite Hope's giddy yet resourceful Larry. They have excellent chemistry.

Behind the cameras, Carroll's sister had died in the London Blitz in October 1940, and as I wrote in my original review, perhaps that contributed to her looking a bit worn at times in this movie, which was shot beginning in November 1941, when Carroll was 35. She's still quite beautiful, of course, but her tiredness seems noticeable in certain scenes.

Carroll married Sterling Hayden shortly before the release of MY FAVORITE BLONDE, but the newlyweds spent much of the war years apart, with Hayden serving in the OSS and Carroll engaged in various activities in support of the war effort, including serving as a Red Cross nurse in Europe. After MY FAVORITE BLONDE she would not return to the screen until 1947, and the same was true of Hayden, whose last film before wartime service was BAHAMA PASSAGE (1941), costarring Carroll. They divorced soon after the war ended, in 1946.

MY FAVORITE BLONDE was directed by Sidney Lanfield and filmed in black and white by William C. Mellor. It runs 78 well-paced minutes.

The large supporting cast includes Gale Sondergaard, George Zucco, Walter Kingsford, Edward Gargan, Dooley Wilson, Nell Craig, and additional familiar faces. The hit-and-run victim seen briefly early in the film was played by Teala Loring, older sister of Debra Paget.

Kino Lorber's attractive Blu-ray is from a new 2K master. Sound quality is excellent. The disc includes a commentary by Samm Deighan and the trailer, plus 10 additional Hope/Carroll trailers.

I've reviewed several additional Bob Hope films released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber Studio Classics: THE CAT AND THE CANARY (1939), THE GHOST BREAKERS (1940), THE PALEFACE (1948), and SON OF PALEFACE (1952).

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


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Truly one of Bob's best and one of his finest leading ladies. I read somewhere that Bob had a serious crush on Madeleine. She didn't notice.

6:23 AM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Regarding Madeleine Carroll. I thought she had simply put on weight, apparent in some scenes and not others.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

You could be right...I perceive her face looks worn and tired at times, but it could also be I'm reading things into it and your theory is correct.

Best wishes,

8:51 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Caftan Woman, your comment came through out of chronological order -- for some reason this sometimes happens with comments from outside the U.S. -- so I'm answering these notes "backwards"!

I read somewhere Hope had been mentioning on his radio show that he liked Carroll, and that was the initial impetus for their teaming. It really does work well. I'm so glad to know you like this one too!

Best wishes,

8:54 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older