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  • One of Bob Hope's funnier comedies was Casanova's Big Night which finds tailor's apprentice Hope exchanging places with the great Casanova who is played by Vincent Price in an unbilled cameo.

    Casanova's been down on his luck lately and he's beating it out of town owing the butcher, baker, and candlestick maker as well as his valet, Basil Rathbone. But after Dutchess Hope Emerson and her son Robert Hutton catch Hope in Casanova's outfit, Rathbone and the creditors decide to let the ruse continue.

    Emerson wants to hire the world's greatest lover to seduce her son's intended, Audrey Dalton, because she feels she's a titled goldigger. True, but that's beside the point. The proof will be if the great lover can steal a certain petticoat with a crest embroidered on it.

    The Doge of Venice Arnold Moss and his two scheming aides Raymond Burr and John Carradine also have their doubts that Hope might not be the great Casanova. What could ever give them that idea?

    By the way Cassanova's Big Night was unusual for Hope in that he went the entire film without one Crosby joke.

    The palace intrigue is as thick as a cement pudding, but Hope manages to bumble through it with the help of Joan Fontaine who is one of the creditors. As is the case in all his films, she develops as a soft spot for old ski nose.

    Paramount gave Hope an unusually good supporting cast here and they all perform well. Of course fans of the classics might well recognize that the plot was lifted from The Three Musketeers.

    But can you imagine the havoc that three Bob Hopes would have caused Venice?
  • artzau9 February 2002
    Hope was at his peak when this film was made. It has many of the same elements as his Monsieur Baucaire, a costume drama about a person above his station carrying out an impersonation, getting involved with good looking chicks, fighting comic duels, etc. Hollywood back in the late 40s and early 50s was not above recycling a hit. I love seeing these old films again with the great comedians of those times, Danny Kaye, Red Skelton and, of course, Hope. Their timing and ability to make the corniest gags work still amazes me. Also, this film has so many of the wonderful character actors that made the old studio productions such a treat. These are faces that only the most serious of trivia buffs will recognize and put the names on, but here we have Arnold Moss, Frank Puglia, John Carridine, Lon Chaney Jr., John Hoyt, Primo Carnera, Hugh Marlowe and a very young Raymond Burr. The comparisons by another reviewer with Woody Allen are interesting but, hey! Hope was first.
  • GoonerAl7 January 2003
    This is a great film for all Bob Hope fans and lovers of vintage comedy everywhere. The colour, as in a lot of these old movies, is very rich and is a real treat for the eyes. As pointed out by other reviewers, the theme is quite similar to that of Bob's earlier black and white film "Monsieur Beaucaire", but none the worse for it.

    In order to save a group of merchants from bankruptcy, Bob, as Pippo Popolino, a miserable tailor's apprentice, agrees to impersonate the great lover "Casanova". As Casanova, he is engaged by a Duchess to test the love of her son's future bride and is promised a large sum of money if succeeding in the seduction. The jokes arrive thick and fast and as usual, Bob's delivery is masterful. Ironically though, for me, one of the funniest lines comes from Basil Rathbone who, playing Lucio, the former servant of Casanova sharing in the deception of the impersonation of his former master, declares to the hapless Pippo at a particularly frustrating moment "You'll never be anyone other than Pippo Popolino and I can't think of anything more insulting!". There are excellent supporting roles from the aforementioned Rathbone and Arnold Moss as the Doge, who our hero refers to as "a snake with a beard". There are some great visual jokes too with Bob remarking while dancing with his intended victim "I have a big following in Venice" at which point his sword drags a tablecloth loaded with crockery from a table, which he then trails behind him in the dance and tries to kick away nonchalantly. What really makes the film though is the pace and delivery of Bob's stream of one-liners.

    Mr Hope at his very best!
  • What a treat to see Bob impersonate the greatest of all lovers-Casanova. This is a wonderfully entertaining movie which keeps you amused throughout the entire film.Basil Rathbone as usual up to top form. Did he ever play anything but a scoundrel in all his movies? There are so many highlights it is difficult to choose any favorites,but the best would be at the end of the movie when Hope as Casanova is to be executed and appeals to the movie audience to spare him ,is one of the funniest scenes ever done.Next time you go to the movies take some popcorn with you and we may be able to save Bob from a fate worse than death.
  • A good all-star cast in a very cute comedy film about, who else, the great lover Casanova! Bob Hope was as cute as can be as Pippo Popolino (aka Casanova's double). Casanova is actually played by the late great Vincent Price who was uncredited. Casanova ended up spending to much of his money and couldn't pay what he owed, so talked Pippo into taking over as himself which leads into some comical moments.

    Casting is superb! Bob Hope, Raymond Burr, Vincent Price, Basil Rathbone, John Carradine & Lon Chaney are the real reasons to watch this film. Story is fun, nothing heavy here - just silly comedy. The film is eye-candy in sets and costuming with rich technicolor bringing this out! 7.5/10
  • Wow, what a cast! This Bob Hope film sure sported a long list of wonderful supporting actors, such as Joan Fontaine, Vincent Price, Basil Rathbone, Raymond Burr, John Carradine, John Hoyt, Lon Chaney, Jr.and even the ex-boxing champ, Primo Carnera! It's really amazing to see so many familiar faces in a rather ordinary sort of film.

    Hope plays a tailor's apprentice who is roped into impersonating the famous lover, Casanova. It seems the real Casanova is a deadbeat and his many creditors have devised a plan to use Hope in his place. All Hope needs to do is try to seduce a young lady (Hope Emerson) to see if she is or is not virtuous--as her prospective mother-in-law wants to test her. He is assisted by Rathbone and Fontaine (who is WAAAY to old for this role). Naturally, things don't go as they all planned and soon Hope is running for his life.

    As for the film, it's pretty much a typical 1940s-50s Bob Hope film--very pleasant and fun, but not particularly outstanding--even with the excellent supporting cast. High points would include a cute prison cell scene and a cute ending. And, among the lamest moments was Hope in drag. While cross-dressing is usually a sure laugh-getter, Hope's routine is pretty poor and this good idea falters.
  • Although I haven't seen the film since the first run showing, I'll never forget the scene where Bob Hope (as Pippo Popolino aka Casanova) was in a gondola in Venice. He dips his finger in the water, sniffs it, and says "Canal Number 5."
  • occupant-14 September 2001
    Haven't seen it in awhile, but recall it as being very quotable in a Monty Python sort of way...

    (scene: prison cell) Bob Hope: "What time is it?" Prisoner: "Oh, around 1758."
  • The "words" in the "summary line" were possibly the funniest line in the Bob Hope movie CASANOVA'S BIG NIGHT. That really does not say much - but then CASANOVA'S BIG NIGHT doesn't say much either. In 1954 it was becoming more and more difficult to find any project that showed Hope to advantage. His insistence on having a quip to end his every scene, although pleasing to his fans, ruined his film scripts. He had demonstrated in "My Favorite Spy" an unwelcome jealousy towards co-worker Hedy Lamarr regarding her own scenes of comic business. Although his two best "dramatic" roles (Eddie Foy Sr. in "The Seven Little Foys" and Mayor Jimmy Walker in "Beau James") and his best comic performance ("That Certain Feeling") were still to come, he was beginning to make blunders - his co-starring turn with Katherine Hepburn in "The Iron Petticoat" and his below-par "French" comedy with Fernandel "Paris Holiday". In 1954 he decided to do a type of remake of one of his best 1940s comedies, "Monsieur Beaucaire". It would not prove to be a good choice.

    It is is not a total loss - Hope in costume pictures is as amusing to view as other comics (W.C.Fields in "My Little Chickadee" or Laurel & Hardy in "The Bohemian Girl") were. But they had funnier material in those films. It is not a total remake of "Beaucaire". First it has nothing to do with the plot of that film, dealing with thwarting the schemes of a military adventurer to start a Franco - Spanish War to seize the Spanish throne. Instead it deals with a plot seemingly lifted (for want of a better term) from Maurice Chevalier's "Love Me Tonight". Casanova (Vincent Price - reduced to a cameo, sadly enough), owes plenty of money as usual. He is taking a fast leave, avoiding his creditors (mostly tailors and small time merchants), and they include the hapless Hope. But Casanova has been offered a lucrative business deal in Venice, and Hope is forced to go in his place. It is the only way to get the money owed by the lover-adventurer to these businessmen. In "Love Me Tonight" Chevalier is sent by his fellow merchants to force Charlie Ruggles into paying his debts for clothing he bought, and ends up impersonating royalty at C. Aubrey Smith's château. But Chevalier plays the role winningly, and only reveals his real occupation by sheer accident (he repairs Jeanette MacDonald's dress too well).

    This was Hope's third costume film, after "Beaucaire" and "The Princess And The Pirate". But those had a younger Hope to play with, who looked like he could be a lover of age 35 - 40 (Hope was in his 40s at the time. Here he is in his 50s (Price was younger looking!). He just does not have the pass-ability as a lover he had a decade earlier.

    The plot line also creaks along. For some reason that is never explained, the Doge of Venice (Arnold Moss) is conspiring to assassinate or imprison Casanova. We never fully understand why. Presumably it has to do with some act of seduction that annoyed the Doge. Compare this with the scheming of Joseph Schildcraut's Don Francisco in the earlier "Beaucaire", with and without the assistance of Joan Caulfield. In the end of "Beaucaire", Don Francisco is somehow still around with Beaucaire and his girl Mimi, but reduced to a bootblack in Beaucaire's barber shop in America. There seems a good comeuppance there (though how the would-be dictator of Spain and destroyer of Beaucaire is willing to be a bootblack is never explained). Moss's antagonism never gets beyond tiresome plotting (with Raymond Burr as his assistant) and amazement at Casanova's escaping one plot after another.

    Joan Fontaine is wasted. She is in the Caulfield role - Hope really likes her but she is less than charmed by him, because she figures she can do better (ironically she thinks Basil Rathbone - Price's valet - is a better catch, only to find him far more materialistic and selfish). Fontaine's best moment is a throwaway. She has to get to palace guards out of the way. She vamps both, so they knock each other out. That is the best moment she had. But Ms Fontaine made many far better films.

    And "Farfel, Farfel, Pippick!"? Hope in desperation tries to get through the Doge's palace in Venice disguised as a diplomat (Fritz Feld's) tall, ugly wife. He keeps using the phrase "Farfel, Farfel, Pippick!" whenever he is asked a question by anyone (sort of like William Shatner's character Denny Crane on BOSTON LEGAL muttering his name whenever surrounded by reporters entering or leaving a courtroom). Finally, at the end of the scene, Feld trying to get the dress back for his real wife, kicks Hope and says "Farfel, Farfel, Pippick" to him as he does it. That particular joke was well developed and completed properly.

    This film did something unique. It offered two endings. One was Moss and his friends pulling Hope to be executed publicly. The other was him triumphing over them. Hope is somewhat disappointed at the result of his audience support on the two different endings. He shouldn't have been so surprised.
  • JohnHowardReid27 July 2017
    Warning: Spoilers
    Produced by Paul Jones. Copyright 1 April 1954 (in notice: 1953) by Paramount Pictures Corp. New York opening at the Victoria: 17 April 1954. U.S. release: April 1954. U.K. release: 12 April 1954. Australian release: 11 March 1955. 7,707 feet. 86 minutes.

    SYNOPSIS: Pippo (Bob Hope) is a tailor's assistant who poses as Casanova. The Duchess of Castelbello (Hope Emerson) hires him to test the love of Elena (Audrey Dalton), who is engaged to the Duchess's son (Robert Hutton). Pippo is aided in his quest by Casanova's valet (Basil Rathbone) and grocer (Joan Fontaine), who hopes to collect on Casanova's grocery bills. All three become ensnared in the intrigue of the Doge (Arnold Moss).

    NOTES: Domestic rentals gross: a little over $3 million. The figure for negative cost is unavailable, but I would estimate $2 million, perhaps $2½ million. Assuming overseas rentals brought in another $1 million (and that's a generous estimate) it means that the picture at best did little more than break even, after deducting print, advertising and distribution expenses.

    COMMENT: "Casanova's Big Night" boasts two melodious new song hits, both of which have the makings of hit parade greatness. One, titled "Pretty Mandolin" (Tic-A-Tic-A-Tic) is sung in the film by Bob Hope and was written by the top tune-smith combination of Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. The other, "The Gondolier's Serenade", was penned by Mack David, Bebe Blake and Joseph J. Lilley, and is heard as the picture's background music. - Paramount publicity.

    Produced on the most extravagant budget Hope was ever given, Paramount hoped that this one would out-gross "The Paleface". Unfortunately, this didn't occur for two inter-related reasons. Exhibitors were unimpressed with the film, regarding it as just another Hope vehicle; and whilst Hope's many fans turned out in their usual droves, the picture didn't attract the wider general audience that flocked to "The Paleface" and :Fancy Pants". (Hope told me that exhibitors didn't support the film mightily because they were sore at him for signing with NBC for a series of television specials).

    Despite its brilliance, "Casanova's Big Night" did little more than break even. This changed the whole course of Hope's career, deflecting him from big-budget verbal and visual slapstick, firstly into character roles, and then back to slapstick pictures that were hastily shot on very tight budgets.

    But this picture does have many things going for it. Basil Rathbone, arguably the screen's best heavy and certainly its finest swordsman, was induced to make a comeback. He had been busy in theater, television and radio since his last screen appearance in "Dressed to Kill" (1946), though he had co-narrated the 1949 Disney feature "Ichabod and Mr Toad". It was great to have him back, especially as his brilliant "Court Jester" was soon to follow.
  • Other reviewers have noted the fine cast in "Casanova's Big Night." Bob Hope was an excellent stand-up comedian, but his shtick in movies begins to wear thin rather fast. Part of it may be a lack of freshness among his writers, and part may be his performances. This film has an interesting premise, and some good comedy "action" scenes. Two things that boost it a notch or two above most of his films are the excellent costumes and sets in this film; and Hope's performance as a foreign baroness, especially his hilarious dance scene with the main villain, The Doge.

    The supporting cast are all quite good, and some big names in Hollywood of that time. Joan Fontaine, Basil Rathbone, Vincent Price, John Carradine, Raymond Burr and others. After I watched the film recently and saw Lon Chaney Jr. in the credits, I had to go back and watch his part again. The makeup was so good I still couldn't identify him clearly in Emo the Murderer.
  • Well, it's a period comedy with Bob Hope. If you like Hope, you will probably like this movie. Vincent Price, the "real" Cassanova was not even credited with his appearance in the film. As a person who is indifferent to Hope, I found this film to be generally annoying. It's a comedy and I maybe chuckled twice. I found Hope's performance to be completely consistent but ultimately tiring. It's like they thought up a 10 minute TV sketch and decided to make a full-length movie on it.

    If you're interested in 1950's comedy in a similar vein you would do much better by viewing The Three Musketeers with Gene Kelly and Vincent Price. It's funny, and has much better action and stunt work. For a straight 50's comedy, take a look at Champagne For Caesar starring Ronald Colman and Vincent Price. Both are miles ahead of this picture.
  • One of Bob Hope's last big-budget studio productions is an elaborate yet rather patchy costumer in Technicolor, with the star only impersonating the famed Venetian lothario (he's played, briefly, by an uncredited Vincent Price!). The film, in fact, has a truly imposing supporting cast (Joan Fontaine, Basil Rathbone, Hugh Marlowe, John Carradine, John Hoyt, Lon Chaney Jr., Raymond Burr and Paul Cavanaugh among others) which, however, doesn't really allow any of them to shine – while embarrassing somewhat Fontaine (an unlikely comedienne) and Rathbone (in the equally undignified role of Casanova's long-suffering valet); for the record, horror icon Chaney appears in a bit as a crazed prisoner.

    The plot has tailor's assistant Hope offering to replace the fleeing and debt-ridden Casanova; he's subsequently involved in a scheme wherein a lady is to be compromised – and in which the warmongering Doge of Venice (with the aid of advisers Carradine and Burr, who are naturally just as unscrupulous) sees an opportunity to start a war with a neighboring state. The film offers typical routines and lines for the star (he even gets to appear in drag) – which, ultimately, may be its problem as this is clearly a case of 'we've been here once too often' (even if his most obvious earlier title in this vein, MONSIEUR BEAUCAIRE [1946], I've yet to catch in its entirety); having said that, Hope did previously star in a film called THE GREAT LOVER (1949) – which I've haven't seen either – but in it he played a private eye.

    Incidentally, the character of Casanova is certainly among the more popular in cinema – a subject attracting to it all kinds of stars (not to mention a bevy of beauties) and film-makers: from Riccardo Freda and Vittorio Gassman to Luigi Comencini and Leonard Whiting, from Federico Fellini and Donald Sutherland to Ettore Scola and Marcello Mastroianni…not to mention Michael Sarrazin (under the direction of "Euro-Cult" stalwart Enzo G. Castellari), Tony Curtis, Richard Chamberlain and all the way down to the recent Lasse Hallstrom-Heath Ledger outing.
  • The jokes may be old, but the great timing of Bob Hope will keep you laughing throughout this comedy about the great romancer. Keep an eye out for Raymond Burr, who has a small role in the film.
  • The usually hilarious Bob Hope generates very few laughs in this slapstick satire that has him portraying a con man who passes himself off as Casanova so he can test the virtues of a maiden (Joan Fontaine) whose marriage is being arranged for her. Most of the scenes fall flat and it winds up being a surprising letdown considering the talent involved.
  • BOB HOPE was just over the crest of his most popular films when he made CASANOVA'S BIG NIGHT and it has to be ranked as one of his poorest despite some lavish Techicolor, vivid costumes and sets. The script is too weak and even his one-liners have little sting to them.

    Furthermore, the whole set-up of the story is so improbable, with Hope as a meek tailor forced into impersonating the great lover before he finds out what a dangerous assignment it is. JOAN FONTAINE and AUDREY DALTON are the two fetching females and it's obviously not their fault that they're given little to do. Fontaine looks distracted most of the time, probably wishing she had nothing to do with playing Francesca to Hope's Casanova impersonation.

    VINCENT PRICE has a minor role as the real Casanova and if you look closely you can see RAYMOND BURR among the bit players. BASIL RATHBONE does what he can as Hope's enemy, but his role here pales in comparison to some of the great villains of his past.

    Worthwhile only if you're enough of a Hope fan to get amusement from watching him in one of his more foolish comedies.
  • Is Bob Hope's character here the model for Woody Allen's character of Boris Grushenko in "Love and Death"?

    Both characters travel to a distant city disguised as someone above their station.

    Woody's character is praised for his "inadvertent heroism", and so is Bob's. Bob's characters are always pretty craven, from "The Cat and the Canary" right on through, but Woody's are usually just neurotic and a little timid, rather than cowardly. There is a closer correspondence here than usual.

    Both films contain a mock duel which Bob/Woody manages to win. There is also an overlapping duel joke or two.

    Woody plays Casanova with the luscious Countess Alexandrovna.

    I only saw a portion of "Casanova's Big Night" so I can't make a fuller comparison between these two costume comedies, one set in the late 18th century, the other in the early 19th.

    In general, this film seemed to me to be one of the weakest Hope vehicles that I've seen, although I've always laughed at the film's ironic title.