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

Thursday, February 8, 2018


Gale Sondergaard and Bob Hope
MY FAVORITE BLONDE (1942). Director: Sidney Lanfield.

Larry Haines (Bob Hope) has an act with a trained penguin named Percy. Larry is about to make his way out to Hollywood from New York -- Percy has gotten a movie contract, but not Larry -- when he encounters a blonde named Karen (Madeleine Carroll of The Prisoner of Zenda), who is secretly a British agent. With the unwitting aid of Larry, Karen tries to keep herself and a scorpion-shaped pin containing secret information, out of the clutches of nasty spies Madame Runick (Gale Sondergaard) and Dr. Streger (George Zucco of Fog Island). Meanwhile Larry and Karen are off on a cross-country chase, trying to get safely to Las Angeles where they can give the pin to a military contact. Along the way they get involved with an Irish picnic and some stubborn Irishmen, encounter Bing Crosby in his first cameo in a Hope film, wind up at a lecture for a baby doctor impersonated by Larry, and confront Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer at his most obnoxious. My Favorite Blonde begins rather grimly with the murder of more than one agent, but it is also consistently amusing, has some great and funny sequences, and Hope and Carroll -- who at first seem an odd team -- are both excellent and play extremely well together. Percy is adorable, but Sondergaard [The Cat Creature] and Zucco, although wonderful, don't get nearly enough to do. There are a host of fine and funny character actors in this as well. A top-notch comedy-thriller. Among the many great scenes in this picture is one in which Sondergaard, Zucco and their henchmen get in a staring contest with Hope!

Verdict: One of Hope's best and most entertaining movies with the comic in fine form. ***1/2.


angelman66 said...

Hi Bill - can't believe I've never seen this one, though it's a classic and looks like such fun. LOVE Gale Sondergaard, as you know; too bad her roles seemed to get smaller and smaller s the years went on...she was an original.

William said...

That's for sure! This is not to be confused with Hope's "My Favorite Spy," which is not as good.

Stop me if I've already mentioned this, but my late partner, Larry, incurred the wrath of an alleged friend of his many many year ago when he was editing fan mags and this friend INSISTED that he do a story and even have a cover photo of Sondergaard in the magazine. Larry explained that the readers wanted stories of Tab Hunter, Troy Donahue, and Jackie Kennedy, etc. and didn't even know who Sondergaard was! So this friend didn't speak to Larry for thirty years. Ridiculous but true!

angelman66 said...

No, you never shared that with me, wow. A little extreme even for a Sondergaard fan like me...