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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Romance > Crime > TV Industry > Counterculture > War > Western > Domestic > Cold War > Spy > Large Fr > The Bob Hope Collection, Volume Two (Great Lover/Cancel My Reservation/Paris Holiday/Private Navy Of Sgt. O’Farrell/Son Of Paleface/How To Commit Marriage/Shout! Factory DVD Set) + Call Me Bwana (1963

The Bob Hope Collection, Volume Two (Great Lover/Cancel My Reservation/Paris Holiday/Private Navy Of Sgt. O’Farrell/Son Of Paleface/How To Commit Marriage/Shout! Factory DVD Set) + Call Me Bwana (1963/MGM Limited Edition Collection DVD)


Picture: C     Sound: C/C+     Extras: D     Films: C+



PLEASE NOTE: Call Me Bwana is an online-only exclusive from MGM and can be purchased from Amazon.com, which you can reach through the sidebar of this side.



After all these years, it is amazing how there are Bob Hope films that still did not make it to DVD.  Though there is always Hope material on DVD, it has often been the same limited amount of titles and not always with the best prints.  Shout! Factory has tried to correct the release problem and MGM has added a title never issued before.  The Bob Hope Collection, in what turned out to be Volume One, is a set we already covered from Shout! at this link:





Now for the titles from Volume Two:


Alexander Hall’s The Great Lover (1949) is a black and white romp pairing Boy Scout leader Hope in a ship with Rhonda Fleming and murder is also happening on the ship.  Some nice moments in a decent film that is not great, but more watchable than expected.


Paul Bogart’s Cancel My Reservation (1972) is a wacky, politically incorrect romp about Hope as a TV talk show host getting arrested like he is a counterculture protester in the midst of being involved in an Indian Reservation (with stereotypical Hollywood “Indians”) in what is bad funny and also stars Keenan Wynn, Eva Marie Saint, Ralph Bellamy, Forrest Tucker, Ned Beatty, Anne Archer and Chief Dan George in Hope’s last major leading role feature film.


Gerd Oswald’s Paris Holiday (1958) is a glossy Technirama production offering an earlier pairing of Hope with Anita Ekberg in tale of movie executive Hope going to France to buy a screenplay, but there is romance and wackiness instead.  Fernadel is given the co-male lead role and they are joined by Martha Hyer, Andre Morrell, Alan Gifford, Yves Brainville, Maurice Teynac, and legendary writer/director Preston Sturges in a rare acting role.


Frank Tashlin’s Private Navy Of Sgt. O’Farrell (1968) is yet another wacky, politically incorrect Hope romp as he tries to boost troop morale (in WWII) with beer and sexy nurses, but gets stuck with Phyllis Diller!  Tashlin’s final narrative feature film shows off his bizarre humor once again and the cast includes Jeffrey Hunter, Gina Lollobrigida, Mako, Dick Sargent, William Christopher and Jack Grinnage.


Son Of Paleface (1952) is one we previously reviewed in the now-defunct HD-DVD format and you can read more about it at this link:




That disc had a better transfer of the film, yet the sound is a little better here on this lower-definition DVD for some reason.  Guess a Blu-ray is not far behind.


And Norman Panama’s How To Commit Marriage (1969) offers a mixed pairing of Hope and Jackie Gleason (whose character is involved in the music business and is sick of Rock music!) in a comedy with Hope and Jane Wyman about to divorce when their daughter (JoAnna Cameron of Isis fame) announces a baby is on the way and her and her boyfriend cancel getting married and decide to just live together instead!  Leslie Nielsen, Tina Louise, Maureen Arthur and Tim Matheson also star in dated-on-arrival flick that was barely shocking then, but is odd and strangely watchable (no matter how bad it gets) now.



As good as any of the above, Gordon Douglas teamed up with James Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman to do a Hope comedy entitled Call Me Bwana (1963), which includes most of the creative team that made the first Bond film, Dr. No, including the producers, Co-Writer Johanna Harwood (who wrote on the first two Bonds), Composer Monty Norman (who created the legendary Harwood,

James Bond theme), Director of Photography Ted Moore, Editor Peter R. Hunt and the result is a film that very much feels like the first two Bond pictures at times.


The comic story (co-written by Nate Monaster (Get Smart), longtime Hope writers Mort Lachman (later of All In The Family and Gimme A Break!) and Bill Larkin with Harwood) is a Cold War satire as a U.S. Space capsule is lost somewhere in Africa and writer Hope (who is supposedly very savvy about the continent) is asked by the government to find it, paired with the underrated Edie Adams as an agent out to help him, but the Soviets have their own agent in Anita Ekberg working with an expert played by Lionel Jeffries to get that capsule first.


Douglas (Them!, Rio Conchos, In Like Flint, Tony Rome, The Detective, Lady In Cement) handles the comedy (which was a genre he mastered on The Little Rascals/Our Gang shorts) and action well, making this an interesting films for reasons you might not expect and it had been a very long time since I had seen it.  If Douglas was not an American director, Broccoli & Saltzman would have likely had him direct a Bond film.  Percy Herbert, Paul Carpenter, Mark Heath, Mai Ling and Arnold Palmer showing up in a fun turn as himself also star in what is eventually a very politically incorrect romp.


All the films are worth seeing once, as even when they fail; you can see how Hope’s star power brought together at a time when Hollywood still knew how to make films.



The films all have 1.33 X 1 aspect ratios including Lover, Marriage (which switched from 1.85 X 1 letterbox to what is an inaccurate 1.33 cutting off the sides!), Navy, Reservation and Paleface, save the mixed transfer on Paris (goes from anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 to an inaccurate unsqueeze for the rest of the film after credits!) and MGM delivers an anamorphically enhanced 1.66 X 1 transfer on Bwana.  All the color films on the Shout! set were originally issued in dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor version of the film and you can see how good the color is on most of the 1.33 prints, though it does not mean all are always accurate all the time.  There are print flaws and some softness in all the transfers that indicate these are all older video masters.  Bwana is a DVD-R and its softness is more easily explained, including the disclaimer before the film starts, but the film is in Rank Color, though some sources have also claimed it was a three-strip Technicolor film, we have no evidence of that.


All have Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound and the films on the Shout! set are about evenly matched with some age and distortion sounding second generation, but are usually audible and the newer the film, the clearer the sound.  Bwana is the newest transfer apparently and sounds it with the cleanest, clearest sound of all in comparison.


There are no extras on any of these discs, not even trailers!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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