31 October 2005 | silverscreen888
Comedy Classic--Bob Hope, a Mysterious Castle, and a Great Cast
This I assert is one of the most-imitated films and the funniest of all time. The producers for once let Bob Hope play a real person; one whose reactions in an extreme situation involving zombies, gangsters, death threats and the need for derring-do made his sensible fears seem believably. In fact, I suggest that the complex plot works quite well. delivering a realistic background to the comedic doings. The great George Marshall did a beautiful job keeping the action going, as he almost always did. Credit for the involving and hilarious story and screenplay are due to Walter DeLeon for the screenplay itself and Paul Dickey and Charles W. Goddard for the play from which it was adapted. The storyline concerns a lovely young woman (Paulette Goddard, the sex-symbol of her era) who inherits a castle on a small island just off Havana, Cuba. Her romantic co-star in the film is Bob Hope as a radio personality, Lawrence Lawrence Lawrence. She is warned off by Senor Perada (Paul Lukas), who tells her everyone who has spent a night in the castle has gone mad. In the meantime, a gangster takes exception to Hope's broadcast and send a man to kill him. Hope believes he has shot the man, really killed by Perada; so he ends up fleeing to Cuba, and helping Goddard. An old acquaintance of hers, played amiably by Richard Carlson, and twin brothers played by a young Anthony Quinn (one of them the murder victim)complicate matters; so do some hard-to-explain zombies, and sinister accomplices of various sizes. Without a scorecard it is difficult to separate the players, but one of the most important is Hope's aide, ably played by master straightman Willie Best without a trace of racial stereotyping; he is loyal, at least as brave as his boss and a great asset to the movie. There is the usual treasure that is causing the villains to scare off the normals; and there is a surprise ending, which I will not divulge. In their parts, Hope is at the top of his considerable powers; Goddard has a merely o.k. voice but has the character strength and charisma necessary to her essentially decorative role as a young woman. Willie Best is outstanding as Hope's sidekick and straight man; Anthony Quinn is promising, young and sullen as twin gangsters; Richard Carlson does a bright job of playing off-type as a duplicitous villain; and Paul Lukas is extremely powerful as Senor Perada, a wonderfully villainous red herring. others in the large and attractive cast include Pedro de Cordoba, Virginia Brissac, Tom Dugan, Lloyd Corrigan, and minor roles by Robert Ryan and Douglass Kennedy. The film's fine cinematography was done by veteran Charles Lang; the music was supplied by Ernest Toch and Victor Young 9uncredited). Art direction by Hans Dreier and Robert Usher was outstanding and atmospheric; Edith Head did the costumes and the interior decorations were the work of A.E. Freudman. The film to my eyes is stylish, consistent and varied; from the sailing into Havan harbor to the sequences in and under the castle to the shipboard and preceding city scenes, everything is beautiful, funny and of a piece. A comedy classic.