Monsieur Beaucaire (1946)

“Listen to me, Beaucaire — your life is in danger!”

Synopsis:
During the reign of Louis XV (Reginald Owen), a French barber (Bob Hope) who has recently been spurned by his ambitious girlfriend (Joan Caulfield) is forced to impersonate a duke (Patric Knowles), whose upcoming marriage to a Spanish princess (Marjorie Reynolds) will supposedly stop imminent war between the two countries.

Genres:

Review:
Based on a novel by Booth Tarkington, this farcical costume drama is a classic Bob Hope feature, featuring the beloved ski-nosed star bumbling his way through numerous semi-dangerous scenarios — all while keeping an eye on the girl he hopes to win (in this case, an enjoyably feisty Joan Caulfield), and spouting characteristically snappy come-back lines:

Count D’Armand: Go on! Help him!
Monsieur Beaucaire: Who me?
Count D’Armand: Yes, you! You’re a man. You’ve got blood in your veins.
Monsieur Beaucaire: I wanna keep it there. It’s the squirty kind.

How much you’ll enjoy Monsieur Beaucaire depends precisely on how funny you find this kind of exchange. For myself, I find that a little of Hope goes a long way — and having watched soooo many of his films in recent months, I’m feeling a little weary at this point. In fact, now that I’ve finished reviewing all of the Bob Hope titles in Peary’s book, I think I can safely say that you only need to a see a couple of his films (one of the Road To… flicks with Bing Crosby, and what I consider to be Hope’s best satirical vehicle — My Favorite Brunette) to get a sense of what his enduring popularity was all about. If you’re a fan, rest assured that there are plenty of other competent Hope films out there — like this one — to enjoy.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Plenty of Hope’s typically light-hearted humor

Must See?
No, though naturally Hope fans will want to check it out. Listed as a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.

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One Response to “Monsieur Beaucaire (1946)”

  1. Fun exchange:
    “…but then, Don Francisco has already warned me of your whimsical proclivities.”
    “Oh, your majesty, my whimsical proclivities are nothing much; they can’t compare with my ludicrous ineptitudes.”

    First viewing. Not exactly must-see. However, though I wouldn’t call Bob Hope one of my fave performers…considering the percentage of absolute crap that dominates his acting career, it’s a relief to come across a film like this. ‘MB’ largely succeeds because it is built on one of the better scripts by writing team Norman Panama and Melvin Frank. About 10 years later, the team would concoct an even better period-piece script – ‘The Court Jester’ – for which this film serves as a sort of set-up, dealing as it does in mistaken identity and clever, farcical complication. ‘MB’ is not quite as funny as ‘TCJ’ – but it is still very amusing and entertaining indeed.

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