Princess and the Pirate, The (1944)

“If you don’t tell anybody I’m not a gypsy, I won’t tell anybody you’re not an idiot.”

Synopsis:
A traveling minstrel (Bob Hope) and an undercover princess (Virginia Mayo) escape from the clutches of a vicious pirate (Victor McLaglen), in possession of a treasure map given to them by a wily tattoo artist (Walter Brennan); soon the corrupt governor (Walter Slezak) of a town overrun by pirates is on their trail, desiring both Mayo and the map.

Genres:

Review:
If you’re a Bob Hope fan, you’re sure to enjoy this genial costume comedy, co-starring Virginia Mayo in her first substantial role as the object of Hope’s romantic yearnings. Hope (as usual) essentially plays a variation on his standard cinematic presence, flinging droll one-liners at a fast and furious pace, and overcoming his cowardly nature just in time to help save a damsel in distress (who may or may not really be interested in him). Hope is almost immediately upstaged, however, by Walter Brennan, giving a truly demented performance as a tattoo artist determined to embroil Hope in treasure-map shenanigans; he’s missed when he’s not on-screen. Indeed, other than Brennan (and a nicely villainous turn by typecast Slezak), there’s not much here that’s particularly memorable — but it’s a finely mounted production if you’re in the mood for just this kind of fare.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Walter Brennan’s delirious turn as the pirate Featherhead

Must See?
No, though it’s recommended for fans of Hope’s unique comedic style.

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One Response to “Princess and the Pirate, The (1944)”

  1. Ultimately tiresome.

    I had higher hopes for this one on a revisit (my first since childhood) – perhaps because I somehow recalled it as something along the comedic period-piece lines of ‘The Court Jester’. Alas, nothing so clever is available here.

    Yes, it is mounted quite well; it very much has the Goldwyn-production touch and is colorful. It is competently directed by David Butler.

    It also, unfortunately, has the standard Bob Hope (forced jokes) humor. What’s truly bizarre is that almost the entire supporting cast comes off better than Hope does. That’s not good. Hope does have the occasional saving grace: the scene in which he attempts to procure food for a captive Mayo is not bad; and Hope’s best scene comes late – when he and McLaglen trade off on who, in fact, is ‘The Hook’ (a scene which includes a not-so-subtle homage to ‘the mirror scene’ in ‘Duck Soup’). But when your supporting cast is upstaging you overall…? That’s what drags the film down. A lot.

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