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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Fancy Pants
Fancy Pants
Paramount // G // June 29, 2004
List Price: $14.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted June 25, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Bob Hope and Lucille Bal, two great comedians who made many wonderful movies and TV shows, team up in this musical remake of Ruggles of Red Gap:  1950's Fancy Pants.  With talent like that the movie has to be funny, right?  Not necessarily.  Though the two try, and the movie does have some splendid moments, it doesn't shine like you would expect it to.

The plot to this movie, like a lot of the musical comedies form the 40's and 50's, deals with mistaken identities and misunderstandings.  Effie Floud (Lea Penman) is a nouveau riche lady from New Mexico.  She's taken her daughter Agatha (Lucille Ball) to England in an attempt to turn her offspring into a refined lady.  She has little success, so Effie hires Arthur Tyler (Bob Hope,) a proper British butler, to return to New Mexico with them and tame Agatha.  The only problem is that Tyler isn't a British butler; he's a 3rd rate American actor who was playing the part of a butler.  But Tyler needs the money and so he heads out to the old west.

When he gets there he runs into trouble with Cart Belknap (wonderfully played by standard tough guy Bruce Cabot.)  Cart wants to marry Agatha and has gotten it into his head that Tyler is an Earl who has come to take Agatha away from him.  Soon the whole town thinks that Tyler is an illustrious Earl, and they even manage to lure President Teddy Roosevelt to town to meet their distinguished visitor.  Can city boy Tyler manage to avoid Cart's ire while maintaining the fiction that he has royal blood long enough for him to sneak out of town?

There were some good sections throughout the film, but this movie just didn't fit together very well.  Each individual scene was okay, but when you put them all together the whole was less than the sum of its parts.  The beginning of the movie seemed a little slow and was a tad confusing.  The movie begins with Ball in London flirting with an English gentleman, but then the narrative changes to the US without resolving any of the plots that were built up in the first 20 minutes.  The middle section had some humorous bits, but they didn't seem to flow together very well, it seemed like they took scenes from different movies and strung them together.

The ending was also not very satisfying.  I was expecting a bigger wrap up.  When it was announced that there was going to be a foxhunt at the end, I immediately recalled the uproarious foxhunt in Lucille Ball's film Mame.  But the star, Bob Hope, wasn't even involved in this hunt.  While some of the chase he was involved in was amusing, it felt more like a middle-of-the-movie chase and not the big finale.  The last scene was an unsatisfying way to end the picture.

Lucille Ball wasn't used to her full potential either.  Less than a year away from starting I Love Lucy, Ball was already an established radio comedian.  But in this film she doesn't give her the chance to ham it up very much.  For playing a rough and tumble woman, her role is rather sedate.  She gets to make a little noise, but doesn't have any really funny lines.  Ball plays the straight guy to Hopes comedian, which is too bad because she could surely hold her own.
 
While this wasn't a bad film, it had some problems that made it less than spectacular.

The DVD:


This DVD has something I haven't seen before:  a new security device.  In addition to the clear and white label on the top of the case, this DVD also has two tabs on the side of the case sealing it closed.  Acording to the notice on the side sticker, you are supposed to break the tabs while opening the case, thereby leaving evidence that the DVD has been accessed I assume.  The only problem is that it doesn't work.  It was very easy to open and close the case without breaking the tabs off.  As a mater of fact, I actually had to apply a little force to get them to break.  I view this new security device as being more of a nuisance than anything else.  I can't see it stopping anyone from committing fraud or theft.

Audio:

The two channel mono sound was not outstanding.  There was some distortion in some high-pitched parts, and the dynamic range was rather limited.  The musical numbers especially suffered from these defects.   This isn't a horrible sounding DVD, the dialog is always intelligible, but it isn't as good as I was hoping for.

Video:

The video looked very good on this disc, with the movie being presented in its original full frame aspect ratio.  The Technicolor image is beautiful.  The colors were bright and forceful and the detail was excellent.  Blacks were solid throughout and there was good contrast.  There were a couple of minor print imperfections, a little dust and a torn frame in one spot.  Overall this is a nice looking movie.

The Extras:

There weren't any extras on this DVD.  I wish they had included at least a trailer.

Final Thoughts:

While there are a lot of good moments in this film, the movie itself doesn't work as well as it should.  The acting was good, but the script just wasn't the quality that these two stars deserved.  The film just didn't flow smoothly, and the big ending didn't feel very big at all.  It left me wanting something more.  This movie makes a good night's entertainment, but I can't see watching it over and over.  That makes the movie a good candidate for a rental.

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