Beau James: The Life and Times of Jimmy Walker (1957)

“There’s his one true love — the cockeyed city of New York!”

Beau James Poster

Synopsis:
New York’s flamboyant, song-writing mayor, Jimmy Walker (Bob Hope), has an open affair with a showgirl (Vera Miles) while dealing with charges of political corruption.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this biopic of New York’s “dapper mayor” (who served in office from 1925 to 1936, until his resignation) is “brave in not overlooking Walker’s loveless marriage and infidelity or the corruption in his administration” — yet it ultimately doesn’t do justice to either issue. In one of his few non-comedic roles, Bob Hope looks “ill at ease” playing it straight, and is, as Peary notes, too “laid back”. Alexis Smith does a fine job playing Walker’s wife-in-name-only (as in Night and Day, she’s once again cast as the ice-blonde “trophy wife” of a famous man), but her character isn’t on-screen enough for us to learn anything significant about her. Similarly, Vera Miles is stunning and winsome as Walker’s mistress, but adds up to little more than a cliche. While movie audiences in 1957 may have been curious to learn more (however fictionalized) about the infamous “Beau James”, most viewers today won’t have the faintest clue what all the fuss was about.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Alexis Smith as Walker’s long-suffering wife

Must See?
No. This one is only must-see for Bob Hope fans.

Links:

One Response to “Beau James: The Life and Times of Jimmy Walker (1957)”

  1. Not at all a must.

    I don’t think Hope looks “ill at ease” – in fact, he seems to be enjoying his chance to do something relatively against the norm for him.

    But the film is abysmal on various levels (even if there’s the sense that the project has been compromised). Essentially, it’s over-written – and not written well, at any rate. There’s the omnipresent feeling that the jokes do somehow have to keep flying because Hope is the lead. But the jokes either aren’t good or haven’t aged well – or both.

    Alexis Smith comes off best and, surprisingly, she’s been given the best lines – which come from the most believably written character.

    But, I hate to say it, this is pretty much a waste of time.

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