For Reel

The Princess and the Pirate (1944)
December 6, 2013, 4:19 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: David Butler
3.5 Stars
The Princess and the PirateBob Hope was loaned out to the Samuel Goldwyn Company in 1944 for The Princess and the Pirate, his second feature for Goldwyn and among his most likable. Director David Butler, who directed Hope and frequent co-star Bing Crosby in Road to Morocco, helms the swashbuckler spoof that features an A-budget and lavish Technicolor. Hope plays Sylvester the Great, a lousy actor known for his many disguises. When the ship he is performing on is attacked by a vicious band of pirates led by Hook (Victor McLaglen), he and a princess on the run (Virginia Mayo) escape with the help of a bitter, toothless sailor named Featherhead (Walter Brennan). The bits that follow transpire in the way that one might expect–Hope wears a number of disguises as he ineptly attempts to evade his pursuers, all the while delivering one-liner after one-liner. What makes the picture memorable is the production design, memorably illustrated in a menacing tavern titled the Bucket of Blood and in the opulent chambers of the corrupt governor La Roche (Walter Slezak). McLaglen plays it straight as the head pirate (save for one humorous but familiar gag in which he is face-to-face with Hope), while Brennan is off-the-rails as the frenzied old coot who proves to be surprisingly heroic. The picture’s final scene includes a tremendously satisfying cameo in which a “bit-player from Paramount” steals the spotlight from the dismayed Hope.

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