Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


SON OF PALEFACE (1952). Director: Frank Tashlin.

One of Bob Hope's best comedy vehicles, the sequel to his equally successful The Paleface, has “Paleface” Potter traveling from Harvard (where he took fourteen years to graduate) to the Wild West in his horseless carriage to claim his late father's fortune. Lying in wait for him are all of his father's creditors, angry Indians, and Jane Russell, a saloon owner who doubles as a highway robber known as “The Torch.” Roy Rogers amiably plays a Federal agent who just happens to act and sing like Roy Rogers. His horse Trigger, truly “the smartest horse in the West,” turns in one of the best performances as a wonder horse who can open doors, climb stairs, outfox Hope, and even steal the covers from him in a classic scene when the two wind up sharing a bed! Busty Russell is as hard and “butch” as ever in her own bizarrely feminine way and Hope is in top form throughout (he seems to go in and out of character at times but in a farce like this it hardly matters). Clever, inventive, and funny, Son of Paleface is full of director Tashlin's trademark cartoon-like humor. At the time of the film's release there were protests from Native Americans at the scenes of the rampaging Indians being shot down like tenpins even though the whole tone throughout is outlandish and not to be taken seriously. Still, you can see how it would bother them that the Indians are barely depicted as being human. NOTE: For a lengthy analysis of this film and of the career and life of Bob Hope, check out Lawrence Quirk's biography Bob Hope: The Road Well Traveled.
Verdict: Funny stuff. ***.

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