For Reel

My Favorite Brunette (1947)
June 21, 2016, 2:24 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Elliot Nugent
3.5 Stars
My Favorite BrunetteOne of Bob Hope’s great genre spoofs came in 1942 when he directly satirized Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps in My Favorite Blonde. The film became such a hit that it was turned into a trilogy of similarly themed spy thrillers, pairing Hope with an attractive leading lady and a supporting cast who play things deadly straight. My Favorite Brunette, the second picture in the series, doesn’t quite reach the heights of its predecessor but it is amusing nonetheless. Hope has now found himself in a typical hardboiled detective film, with elements somewhat reminiscent of the previous year’s Notorious (including a McGuffin that involves uranium). That Dorothy Lamour is his co-star loses some of the luster of the previous film (which paired the bizarre team of Hope and Madeleine Carroll), but she provides the usual fine work as foil for the comedian. Still, the great juxtaposition is Hope himself in the context of a standard issue noir—the underrated comedian was among the most experimental artists of the 1940s in terms of playing with genre. He becomes the audience surrogate, a “fish out of water” struggling with the tropes of an all-too-familiar entertainment. If My Favorite Blonde positioned him better as an everyman (this quasi-sequel is winking even by Hope’s standards), they both show his ability to seamlessly integrate his persona within drastically different filmic universes and keeping the narrative stakes in tact.

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