VCI Entertainment, the home video company that’s been catering to the eclectic tastes of classic movie and nostalgia fans over these many years with bodacious releases of movies, serials, cartoon collections and vintage TV shows, introduced a series of DVD’s under the aegis of “Nostalgia Film Factory” in September this year. The first six releases spotlighted such vintage classics as The Most Dangerous Game, A Star is Born,
Back in 2010, I mentioned that My Favorite Brunette was second only to Son of Paleface as my favorite Bob Hope comedy. It’s a first-rate send-up of film noir conventions: Bob plays a baby photographer who’s mistaken for a private eye by damsel-in-distress Dorothy Lamour (the titular dame), and she asks for his help in dealing with some bad guys who are holding her uncle prisoner. Bob’s a little reluctant at first; the villains—which include Charles Dingle (channeling his scoundrel in The Little Foxes) and John Hoyt—convince him that Dottie’s off her trolley…but Hope changes his mind when he snaps a photograph that the baddies desperately want back. In the running time of 87 minutes, Bob ends up framed for a murder and tangles with henchmen Peter Lorre and Lon Chaney, Jr. before arriving at the happy ending. (There are two other cameos in this film that I’m going to spoil for you in the next few paragraphs, so if you haven’t seen the picture you might want to stop here.)
RONNIE (Bob): You know, Willie? I like you, too…
WILLIE (Lon): Y-Y-You do?
RONNIE: Yes, sir! What a physique! Boulder Dam with legs! And look at those shoulders…and that arm! Mmm…like a sack of doorknobs… (Willie flexes his arm, trapping Ronnie’s fingers underneath) Oh! Recess! Recess! Recess! (Willie unflexes) I’m just kidding…huh…
WILLIE: Hey, Chummy…d-d-do you care if I feel your muscle, too?
RONNIE: No! Go ahead… (Willie feels his arm) Look around…it’s there someplace…
WILLIE: Oh—there it is!
RONNIE: That’s it…
WILLIE: I-It’s just like a woman’s…
RONNIE: Yeah… (He shoots him a look, and then Willie squeezes his arm) Easy! Easy! Easy! (As Willie lets go) Every thing you touch turns to rigor mortis!
Willie is goaded by Ronnie into showing off and bending the bars outside the window…but just when Willie says his goodbyes he stops…and puts the bars back into their previous position. “Y-Y-You gotta be neat, you know,” he explains to his “chum.” Chaney’s performance is one of my very favorites, and he worked so well with Bob that he appeared with the comedian again in another top-notch Hope comedy, Casanova’s Big Night (as Hope’s dungeon cellmate in that one).
this in a piece on the film back in 2010). Though there are a gazillion versions of the movie available on all kinds of home video, a nice print of the movie can be found on a 2010 Shout! Factory set entitled The Bob Hope Collection (which also features two of the Road films,
Rio and Bali, as well as The Lemon Drop Kid and The Seven Little Foys) which was taken
from the original negative stored at Sony.
And yet…the print of Brunette
showcased on the VCI-Nostalgia Film Factory disc is in amazingly good shape; it’s
definitely the best one I’ve ever seen on a P.D. release at any rate. If you’re looking for an inexpensive disc
that will deliver the goods—and includes a short or two in the bargain—you’ll
want to throw it in your online shopping cart.
(The SRP is $9.99, but DVDPlanet currently has the best price.)