Paleface/ B+,A
Universal/1948/91/FS 1.33

     Paleface starts out as a pretty solid "B" oater, but don't let that fool you. The laughs are on their way.  With the promise of a pardon, government officials enlist outlaw Calamity Jane as an undercover agent to get to the bottom of gun running to the Indians. The comedy spurs into high gear with the introduction of Painless Peter Potter, a textbook dentist of dubious ability. The character is practically lifted from Dark Command, a John Wayne flick which co-starred Gabby Hayes as a traveling dentist.

     Russell arrives in town dressed in feminine finery to discover Painless Potter at a bath house performing dental torture. She hooks up with Painless to decoy the gunrunners and together they join a wagon train. When Indians attack, Jane does the shooting but Painless  gets the credit and when they arrive in the next town, Painless is hailed as a hero. Now the comedy takes off as Jane digs below the surface and Painless postures as a with a six shooter.
    Paleface grows colorful from Painless' first encounter with the Indians. It's truly hilarious. Some of the best humor comes through Indian interaction.  There's a wonderful moment with a candle. It's but a flicker of humor, but absolutely charming. Along the way, Hope puts over the Academy Award winning song Buttons and Bows with great charm.
     The laughs come slower in town and the jokes are somewhat drawn out. Clever patter is less frequent. One of the better moments is when Painless gets advice on how to fight gunslinger Joe. It's reminiscent of the wonderful Pestle with the Vessel bit from The Court Jester and perhaps even inspired it. Laughs pick up again in high spirits at the Indian camp, where the best moments in Paleface surface under poainof death.
     Hope's dental banter is very funny. It's Hope is at the pinnacle of his comic powers as Painless Potter. "Brave men run in my family" is a gem of a Hope throwaway line. Hope can throw away lines with such casual eloquence. Russell and Hope have instant screen chemistry. Truthfully, she's not much more of an actress than Dorothy Lamour. Russell fills the role of Calamity Jane  with a pouty mouth and ample flesh filling her tight fitting dresses.
     From the first moment of the opening titles Paleface is a sparkling colorful treat. There are some specs of dirt, but intense color saturation and overall sharpness overcome any carping complaints. Black levels are very rich with revealing details like wrinkles in jackets. Nice use of shadows in the undertaker's office. Color stability is remarkably good. Nice range on the fleshtones. Calamity Jane's dress explodes with astounding color. Details like the pine needles on the trees are beautifully rendered. I noticed a couple of digital hits, but they were very minor and fleeting and did nothing to undo the wonderful spirit of the transfer. The mono soundtrack is very clean. Very subtle dialogue distortion in the last third of the film.  Dialogue is easy to understand the the music is upbeat with decent range.
    The special features include a cute sing-along of Buttons and Bows. Just follow the bouncing ball. The Entertaining the Troops segment is a duplicate of the one on The Road to Singapore.

Reviewed on a Sharp 9000VX DLP Projector




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