Monday, March 20, 2023

Tonight's Movie: Sorrowful Jones (1949) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Bob Hope stars as Damon Runyan's SORROWFUL JONES (1949), a bookie who unexpectedly becomes guardian to a little girl (Mary Jane Saunders).

The movie was recently released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber. This month Kino Lorber is also releasing the original version of the story, LITTLE MISS MARKER (1934) with Shirley Temple.

Sorrowful is saddled with little Martha Jane (Saunders) after her father (Paul Lees) is killed by a goon in the employ of racketeer Big Steve (Bruce Cabot).

Parenthood eventually comes to agree with the initially reluctant Sorrowful, who even upgrades his apartment for her sake. Caring for Martha Jane also reunites Sorrowful with his ex-girlfriend Gladys (Lucille Ball) -- who's recently been dating Big Steve.

The rest of the film has to do with fixed races, a horse named Dreamy Joe, and an array of "colorful" Runyonesque characters played by the likes of William Demarest and Thomas Gomez.

I class SORROWFUL JONES as a solid film but not a great one, running a tad overlong at 88 minutes. That said, Hope is nicely subdued in this, about as likeable as he ever is on screen, and he's well matched by Ball. The always-reliable Demarest and Gomez offer good support. I hadn't seen this since I was in my teens, and it was a pleasant revisit.

Saunders is pretty cute and does well as Hope's "straight man," although her high-pitched voice becomes slightly wearing by movie's end. As I've shared here before, a fun bit of trivia is that she was long married to former Los Angeles Dodger Jay Johnstone, who sadly passed away in 2020.

SORROWFUL JONES was directed by Sidney Lanfield and shot in black and white by Daniel L. Fapp.

Ball's singing was dubbed by Annette Warren, who also dubbed her in a later film Ball made with Hope, FANCY PANTS (1950). Warren also dubbed Ava Gardner in SHOW BOAT (1951).

The Blu-ray print is from a new 2K master. For the most part it looks very good; I did note a scene about halfway through which briefly had the "vibrating" look of a VHS tape, but otherwise this is a nice disc. The soundtrack is crisp and clear.

Disc extras consist of the movie trailer; a gallery of 14 additional trailers for Bob Hope films; and Kino Lorber Bob Hope promo trailer.

Update: Here is a review of the previous version of this story, LITTLE MISS MARKER (1934), also available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.

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


Anonymous Barry Lane said...

I am so glad you mentioned Jay Johnstone, I liked him, a lot, and did not know he had passed. I put up his Wikipedia page and was shocked at his demise. A good player, and enormous fun.

11:20 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Jay was very popular here in the 1981 World Championship Dodgers era. His death at 74 was very sad for me - especially learning he'd been suffering from dementia for years prior.

Happy memories for sure, and I always thought it was fun he had a personal link to the classic film era through his marriage.

Best wishes,

9:04 AM  

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