My Favorite Blonde/ B-, A-
Universal/1942/78/FS 1.33/BW

     Nazis are on the loose in pursuit of secret information being delivered by beautiful blonde British agent Karen Bentley. My Favorite Blonde cuts to the quick, introduces the villains and heroine, and by the time Larry Haines makes his delightful entrance on stage opposite a penguin, the pattern of the film is augmented by the comic's excellent patter. Yes, and you have to believe that the penguin work is some of the best on film.
    Bentley latches onto Haines to throw a curve to her pursuers, but the only curves she displays are to tempt Haines. She joins Haines on his cross-country trip to Hollywood where the Percy the penguin has been hired for a movie.

A train to catch. penguin in hand. ŠUniversal

    Larry Haines is a natural for Bob Hope. The wisecracking belongs to the character and Hope fits into Haines' skin like a tux on a penguin. Madeleine Carroll has a lot of fun with the role. Hope and Carroll play well off each other. Carroll's rapid fire changes in amorous approaches leads to some great reactions from Hope. Madeleine Carroll has been down the road of spy and road and train flicks before, most notably in the classic The 39 Steps. She's right at home dodging bad men in black and coyly seducing Bob Hope. Hope does some nice wire work in the finale of his stage act.
     The chase is entertaining, the various venues make the most of the thin script, and the filmmakers get maximum mileage out of Percy the penguin considering the bird's short stride. Perhaps the movie drags a bit stretching out it's one-trick plot. The Hope-Carroll byplay needs to be outstanding to overcome it. The villains are a great bunch if character actors led by Gale Sondergaard and George Zucco. The stare Hope down with the best of them. Not a hint of a smile crosses any of their faces. Bing Crosby makes a short cameo appearance and Hope makes the most of it. Classy production design and a well-photographed film. The score perfectly represents the era.
     A little aside: Dooley Wilson, the memorable piano player in Casablanca (Made the same year) has a minute role as a porter.
     Astounding contrast ratio. Incredibly sharp, well-preserved film elements. Even the opening fog is reasonably controlled for the most part. Deep, luscious blacks stand out, plaids, tweeds, sharp edges are all perfectly stable. Shadow detail is very good. Check out the beautiful rendering of a woven lampshade on the train as Hope gets surrounded by the bad guys. There's only one full length scratch noticeable for a short time at the Chicago apartment building.
    My Favorite Blonde is packaged on single disc with the star-studded Star Spangled Rhythm in which Hope and Crosby have roles.

Reviewed on a Sharp 9000VX DLP Projector




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