The Paleface Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ February 26, 2009
Alright I know I know but you just have to love theses schmooltsy wannabe westerns.....The singing was great and Russell was a seriously gorgeous laydee....
½ March 31, 2011
The fact that it was written by cartoon guru Frank Tashlin explains a whole lot. Stupid as hell, but Bob Hope's vaguely racist antics at the end about make the whole thing worthwhile.
January 17, 2010
Bob Hope was hilarious, and Jane Russell was good at her spot. It was just a bit silly, but still enjoyable.
May 30, 2009
I have to admit that I found most of Bob Hope's vehicles lame, including all of the "Road" movies; whereas some of his other, earlier Paramount stuff from the late '30s and early '40s (The Cat and the Canary; My Favorite Blonde) are pretty good.
August 23, 2014
Bob Hope. Bob Hope? Bob Hope! That was going to be the entire review - but it's probably misleading. Instead, this pairing of Hope and Jane Russell in a spoof of Westerns is only middling at best with a few funny lines. Apart from the racist nature of the plot (par for the course at the time), the film really is so family friendly as to not really be comedy at all. Indeed, I think you could substitute Daffy Duck for Hope and the film would play the same (except perhaps Daffy is more subversive at times). Writer Frank Tashlin apparently so disliked what Norman Z. McLeod did with his script, that he opted to make the sequel (Son of Paleface) himself, before moving on to work with Jerry Lewis. I haven't seen the sequel and I haven't built up my courage for Lewis yet.
½ June 16, 2013
The West Wasn't for Everyone

American cultural mythos holds that, in the nineteenth century, the way to new opportunity was always West. It's sort of a progressive West, too--immigrants, naturally all came from Europe (we don't talk about Asians much, and when we do, they're always doing white people's laundry or building railroads), and American is West. And then all those people crowded into the cities with no hope of advancement (except for immigrants, who by nature of leaving Europe are already better off, because freedom) had the opportunity to move West into the great expanses of the Frontier. If you went West, you could move beyond whatever your past had been and really be free. This is probably at least in part responsible for the migrant workers who poured West during the Depression; we know already that the West has opportunity and the East does not, because that's what we've always believed. But not everyone was cut out for the West.

Among those who would be better in the East (or continuing until he hit San Francisco, at least) is dentist "Painless" Peter Potter (Bob Hope). He doesn't like roughing it. He likes luxury. However, he's bought into the idea that Westward lies prosperity, so he's traveling from town to town, leaving when he's chased out. He is in the process of being chased out when he catches the eye of Calamity Jane (Jane Russell). She has been released from jail on the proviso that she seek out who is selling dynamite and guns and so forth to the Indians, and she needs a partner so she can pretend to be married, which seems more innocent. The man who was supposed to have been her partner has been killed, so she fools Painless into coming along with her. He's a coward, so she knows it's going to take fooling. She knows that Painless will make himself the center of attention, letting her go on about her business of solving the mystery on her own.

Why do they always make the character Calamity Jane? Calamity Jane is a real historical figure. We know who she was and what she looked like, and this isn't it any more than Doris Day was it when she played a character called Calamity Jane. There's no point in the story or the history to having her be Calamity Jane. She's called that just because it's a name we know, but so what? There are hundreds, probably thousands, of Westerns full of characters whose names we don't know, but it doesn't matter. Some of the greatest Westerns of all time are completely fictional with no pretense otherwise, and that's fine. We don't need it to be otherwise. Would Jane Russell's character be less interesting if she hadn't been given that name? Was there something inherent to Calamity Jane that made her a plausible figure to put in this situation? I mean, I've seen pictures of Calamity Jane, and not even the wolfish character Bob Hope always portrayed would have chased her the way he does here when the dance hall girls were around.

Of course, the plot of a Bob Hope comedy isn't really the point anyway, though a Bob Hope comedy wherein he encountered the historical Calamity Jane might have been interesting. You know, though, now that I think about it, I'm reminded of Eddie Izzard talking about [i]Scooby-Doo[/i] and how Shaggy and Scooby are essentially Falstaff, because what they believe in is cowardice and sandwiches, and how that's unique in fiction. However, I'd say that Bob Hope's characters are even closer to Falstaff, because Shaggy isn't all that into girls, and Falstaff does a lot of girl-chasing in his appearances. Bob Hope's persona was all about the girl-chasing and cowardice, and he wouldn't say no to the sandwiches. He, like Falstaff, was always looking for an easy chance at making a quick buck. And, of course, there's the drinking, though not as much as in Dean Martin movies (and at least he doesn't reference any of those in this film), which is also an important aspect of Falstaff.

Not, in the end, a great movie. Not a bad one, either. It's a light, easy movie, the kind of thing to watch if you aren't all that interested in thinking. The Indians? Well, they're Hollywood enough so that one of them is good ol' Iron Eyes Cody, born Espera Oscar DeCorti of Sicilian heritage. It's also worth noting that no one ever, so far as I remember, specifies what tribe the Indians are. And while Bob Hope sings about loving Jane in buckskin or homespun, he has never actually seen her in it, even as they're crossing the . . . um, woods. Because there's no prairie. Anyway, whatever she's crossing, it's in burgundy velvet, because she's pretending, per the plot, to be a lady. And everyone knows ladies crossed the, let's say, wilderness in formal clothing. As opposed to, well, homespun. Or the buckskin that she wears when she's not pretending to be a lady, which is more practical if less ladylike. At any rate, it's a movie worth watching, and I'm not sure there's such thing as a great Bob Hope movie anyway.
½ August 18, 2011
This exceeded my expectations! No-good Calamity Jane (Russell) is told by the government that the only way she can escape jail is to help capture some bad gun carriers who are shooting innocents. Along the way she runs into bumbling dentist Painless Potter (Hope) and they get married, because she thinks it will help her job get done. Little does she know what's coming! When you mix screwball comedy, western, action/adventure, and romance all into one movie, you get "The Paleface". Here we have Bob Hope taking a break from Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, and instead teams up with the late-great Jane Russell. The tag-line for this delightful comedy was: "She Can Shoot a Gun as Fast as Bob Can Run" and they really did mean it. Her toughie role in this film is out of reach from her other movies, and wow, it was a good change of pace! Though I thought 1947's "My Favorite Brunette" was good, this one is absolutely fantastic, and proves that Bob Hope can do a little more away from cities or exotic places (hint hint). What makes this movie even better is the rich Technicolor! I watched it on TCM and never have a seen a print so bright and whole, and looks so much better than what you see in "The Wizard of Oz"! Anyhow, "The Paleface" is a wonderful movie, and any fan of Bob Hope will consider it one of his best classics.
April 21, 2007
Paleface is a good ol' classic with Bob Hope, but something just seemed... well, missing. Don't get me wrong, I laughed, but it was hit and miss much of the time. It started and had parts that were mind-bendingly slow, and there was very little plotline outside of Hope's act. I'm not a big fan of westerns, and the movie was also surprisingly racist, although I suppose it's a sign of the times.

I probably wouldn't eccommend this movie to Bob Hope first-timers, but fans are sure to enjoy it, even if they can deal with Jane Russell not changing her evil expression the whole movie.

½ July 10, 2005
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