25 September 2007 | bkoganbing
The Foys Are Hopeful
Interesting that the generally considered high point of Bob Hope's career has him essaying roles of famous celebrities of the past. Hope played Jimmy Walker, the mayor of New York during prohibition and the famous vaudevillian Eddie Foy who as we learned in Yankee Doodle Dandy gave his country seven children. Hope acquits himself well and you almost, but not quite forget that you are watching Bob Hope.
Eddie Foy (1855-1928) was one of the most celebrated acts of vaudeville in the golden age of vaudeville in the 19th century. Completely eliminated from the story are his first two wives, both of whom died and a fourth wife whom he married after the action of this story is over. Milly Vitale and her sister Angela Clarke however were quite real.
Eddie Foy, Jr. partially made a career of playing his celebrated father in many films, on stage, and in television. He did such a good job of bringing him to life, that whoever played Foy if his name wasn't Foy was going to be hypercritically judged. It's a great credit to Bob Hope that the public accepted him in the part with no reservations.
The story is familiar enough material, widower raising a large brood of children with the usual problems without mother in the picture. It just so happens that this family was in show business, a lot like the Cohan family so shown in Yankee Doodle Dandy.
Eddie Foy, Jr. played his dad in Yankee Doodle Dandy in that one celebrated exchange of one liners with James Cagney right before the You're A Grand Old Flag number. The highlight of this film is Cagney reprising his role as Cohan and doing a soft shoe routine at a Friar's Club dinner with Hope. Both Cagney and Hope did their turns in vaudeville before they were names and there was no need of any character preparation for their parts. The dance routine yes, but the acting no.
The Seven Little Foys is a heartwarming family film, a bit more serious than the usual Bob Hope fare, but still charming and entertaining.