"You see, I wanted to be a detective, too. It only took brains, courage, and a gun...and I had the gun."
For any baby boomers or gen Xers who grew up in the sixties and seventies, Bob Hope is mostly remembered as a smarmy "insert name of current president in this joke" kinda comedian, touring some war zone or another to "entertain" the troops, golf club and bimbo props in tow, or schmoozing on some TV special with similar relics from our parents' generation. Which is why My Favorite Brunette, made way back before most of us were even born, is such a revelation and a treat! Who would think Bob Hope could ever star in something this cutting and funny?
Right in the middle of all those classic hardboiled private eye films and gritty noirish B flicks, this must have come as some sort of cool breeze. This highly-entertainly spoof, in true noir fashion, is all told in a flashback, as bumbling and disillusioned baby photographer and P.I. wannabe RONNIE JACKSON, facing a murder rap, biding his time on San Quentin's Death Row, is interviewed by reporters.
Bored with snapping photos of crying kids, Ronnie confesses that "All my life, I've wanted to be a hardboiled detective like Humphrey Bogart or Dick Powell -- or even Alan Ladd." He gets his chance (and more than he bargained for) when the gumshoe in the office next to his, Sam McCloud (played by Alan Ladd, of course!), is called out of town, and asks Ronnie to watch the office. He's only supposed to answer the phone, but it doesn't take long for Ronnie to step into Sam's gumshoes, taking on a case for the mysterious femme fatale Baroness Montay (Dorothy Lamour) to find her missing husband. There ensues a confusing, cockeyed caper full of double and triple crosses, gloomy mansions, evil doctors, deadly villians, hulking thugs, and more double crosses, with every plot twist skewering thriller cliches.
Smart gags and dead-on performances make this one of the most satisfying parodies of the hardboiled detective film ever. It's full ofgreat lines, wink-wink in-jokes and screwball spoofs. The cast is first-rate, with Peter Lorre, Lon Chaney Jr., and Charles Dingle as the bad guys, Lamour as the babe, and Ladd and Bing Crosby ("He'll take any kind of part!") making small but hilarious appearances.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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