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BOB HOPE CLASSIC COMEDY

               

For Hicksflicks.com, April 25, 2014

If you remember Bob Hope only for his TV specials or the movies from the last decade of his film career (the 1960s), you don't know Bob Hope.

During his prime in the 1930s and especially the '40s, Hope made a string of financially successful and critically praised comedies for Paramount Pictures (whose pre-1950s catalog is now owned by Universal Pictures). And many of them bona fide classics.

               

Now 10 of his best films are included in the new "Bob Hope Classic Comedy Collection" DVD set that is to be released on Tuesday (April 29): "Give Me a Sailor" (1938, b/w), "Thanks For the Memory" (1938, b/w), "Never Say Die" (1939, b/w), "The Cat and the Canary" (1939, b/w), "The Ghost Breakers" (1940, b/w), "Caught in the Draft" (1941, b/w), "Nothing But the Truth" (1941, b/w), "My Favorite Blonde" (1942, b/w), "The Paleface" (1948, color) and "Sorrowful Jones" (1949, b/w).

All of these movies have been on individual or double-feature DVDs previously but this is the first time they've been culled into one box that is priced at less than each disc cost the last time around.

If you are a Hope fan or if you're just looking for a laugh from an old movie, this set will easily fill the bill.

The two military comedies are goodies, although Hope was not yet at center stage for "Give Me a Sailor," which focuses just as much on two sisters, played by Betty Grable and Martha Raye. But he headlines "Caught in the Draft," as an egocentric movie star who is unwillingly called to serve in the Army at the outset of World War II. Frequent co-star Dorothy Lamour is his love interest.

                            

                          Bob Hope and Jane Russell in "The Paleface."

Two haunted-house horror spoofs are among Hope's best work and helped make him an A-list star, both co-starring Paulette Godard, "The Cat and the Canary" and "The Ghost Breakers."

One of my personal favorites is another with Godard, "Nothing But the Truth," in which Hope is compelled to tell the truth for 24 hours. (Think "Liar, Liar.")

And considered by many critics his best movie is the Western spoof "The Paleface,"  with Jane Russell.

The rest are pretty good, too, including his first (of three) teamings with Lucille Ball, "Sorrowful Jones."