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Friday, January 2, 2009


This first-rate wartime comedy was released in '43, but filmed in '42 when the tide of WWII still looked very grim and laughing at the enemy was at a premium. The needs of the country and timing were all but perfect for Bob Hope, then at his peak. Here, he's nicely teamed with his 'Road Pic" co-star Dorothy Lamour as well as regular helmer David Butler who shows surprisingly nice chops working through a sort of slaphappy 39 STEPS story-structure. Bob’s a reporter who lands the scoop of the year when John Abbott sells him all the details on a big Nazi organization, headed by a bewigged Otto Preminger. These Fifth Columnists are operating a sabotage ring right inside the Washington beltway. If a few wisecracks tend to serve Bob the radio comedian rather than the story, most of the film holds up better than you'd expect. It's no TO BE OR NOT TO BE, Hope never was willing to give himself up to a real director, but it retains most of its laughs compared to similar period fare and, largely thanks to Rudolph Mate's exceptionally refined noirish lensing, even gives off a bit of dramatic kick.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Doesn't Otto look oddly like Howard De Silva in that hairpiece?)

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