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