Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pale by Comparison: "The Paleface" (1948)

"The Paleface" is one of those films that you may have seen in the past, and it was a laugh riot, but you will have second thoughts when you finally sit down to watch it again.

Jane Russell, looking exactly like Drew Barrymore, is Calamity Jane. The government breaks her out of jail and sends her undercover to find out who is smuggling guns to the Indians in order to prompt an uprising.

Calamity Jane's original fake husband is killed, so she marries the very un-gunfigher-like Peter Potter (Bob Hope), a dentist who is constantly getting run out ot towns by his very pained patients. Potter becomes a hero after Jane covers for him in an Indian attack, and the second half of the film has Peter and Jane exposing their true feelings, and Potter becomes a real hero and saves Jane from the indians.

I am normally a fan of Hope's, but the first half of the film has no energy. The oneliners fall flat, and Russell acts as if she were not aware this was a comedy. When Potter becomes a hero, the final half comes alive but is immediately predictable. The running joke about Hope getting konked on the head every time he tries to kiss Russell is funny, but there are not enough of these moments to recommend the film.

Followed by "Son of Paleface," this film was ripe for a sequel, in order for the film makers to get things right. We shall see. (* *) out of five stars.