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Monday, August 05, 2013

Bob Hope At Beginnings


Vitaphone Misusing a New Personality: Shop Talk (1936)

A Bob Hope nightmare where he's the goat and everyone else's quips get the better of his. None like this would happen again --- chalk Shop Talk off to early career uncertainty. Did Warners know or care how best to utilize Bob? He's here a two-reel variant on George Burns besieged by a dozen Gracie Allens, lost in a live-action Wackyland not unlike what Porky Pig visited a few years later. The story, for what it's worth: Bob leaves school to run his (unseen) father's department store. Bizarro gags ensue amidst fall down roughhouse unsuited to the Hope who'd emerge later in features. Guess Bob used Shop Talk as caution of how not to present himself in movies, if indeed anyone brought the subject up. Vitaphone shorts were too many and lacked (prep) time to best exploit talent. Better comics could survive them and flourish elsewhere, as did Hope. There's none like these to satisfy curiosity re careers at beginning (or end), however, so Shop Talk comes high recommended as an extra on WB's Charge Of The Light Brigade disc.

2 Comments:

Blogger Kevin K. said...

Yes, a remarkably terrible short -- as were most of the Warners comedy shorts I've seen -- as was Hope's first movie, "Going Spanish" from Educational Pictures. The only thing educational about it was how it took so long for Hollywood to realize what a great comedic actor Bob Hope was when you just let him be himself. I wonder what would have happened if "The Big Broadcast of 1938" hadn't come along, and Hope never sang "Thanks for the Memory." It would have been back to Broadway.

10:44 AM  
Blogger rnigma said...

Bob Hope said of "Going Spanish" after its release: "When they catch Dillinger, they're gonna make him sit through it twice." Reportedly, Earle Hammond did not appreciate Hope's joke and fired him.
Bob's adventure in Los Poachos Eggos got plenty of TV (and home video) exposure after falling in the public domain.

I saw one of Hope's other WB shorts, where he and Rags Ragland posed as sailors to pick up women, and it was... bleh. Not horrible but it could have been much funnier.

10:35 PM  

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