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Universal Studios Home Video presents
The Paleface (1948)

"I'm not a mouse, and I'm not a man. I'm a dentist."
- Painless Peter Potter (Bob Hope)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: March 11, 2002

Stars: Bob Hope, Jane Russell
Other Stars: Robert Armstrong, Iris Adrian, Robert Watson
Director: Norman Z. McLeod

Manufacturer: Panasonic Disc Services Corp.
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence)
Run Time: 01h:30m:46s
Release Date: March 05, 2002
UPC: 025192121227
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B-A+D+ C+

DVD Review

After the success of My Favorite Brunette, Bob Hope was paired with Jane Russell in this comedy western. She had made a name for herself five years earlier in Howard Hughes' The Outlaw, but that film was so heavily censored that few saw it until years later. Thus, this pciture was where she first received significant exposure.

Russell stars as Calamity Jane, who is broken out of prison by the federal Indian Affairs folks. They offer her a pardon for a little work: namely, finding out who is running guns to a group of hostile Indians. When her contact turns up dead, Calamity turns to the next best thing available: correspondence-school painless dentist Peter Potter (Bob Hope). A hasty marriage and some not so subtle encouragment send them west with a wagon train, where Jane uses the dentist as a patsy and encourages everyone looking for the federal agent to believe that it's him. Hijinks ensue, winding up in a furious chase sequence.

Hope is pretty good in this, his highest-grossing picture. The script is rather predictable and he doesn't have a lot to work with, but what there is he delivers in his patented wiseguy aside style. Russell, on the other hand, turns in a completely one-note performance that is quite unappealing. It's hard to see exactly how this movie made her career. The supporting cast is mostly wooden and not worth much, although there's an amusing little cameo featuring frequent Hope sidekick Jerry Colonna.

Gorgeously shot in no-holds-barred Technicolor, the picture looks great. It takes a while to get going, though, and the pacing is pretty loose. This could have been a much better movie with eight or ten minutes judiciously trimmed. The climactic chase sequence is quite well done, and here the pacing is excellent. Some unfortunately poor matte painting, back projection and dummy work mar it a bit, though.

For those wanting to see Hope sing, he comes out from Crosby's shadow here and croons the Oscar®-winning tune "Buttons and Bows," complete with concertina solo. Remade several decades later as The Shakiest Gun in the West, this is not bad for those who might be looking for old-time period comedy. Those sensitive about cinematic treatment of Native Americans are gently encouraged to look elsewhere.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Nothing looks better than 3-strip Technicolor, and the transfer here lives up to it beautifully. Colors are brilliant and gorgeous, blacks are richs and deep, and there's plenty of fine detail. Indeed, in several sequences fine print on posters in the background can be made out easily. There are a few random speckles here and there, but this looks absolutely great. The high (8 Mbps) bit rate helps, I'm sure. Using the dual-layer format for a movie only 90 minutes long allows for the detail to really come out. Universal should be proud of the results here. In no way does this look like it's over fifty years old.

Image Transfer Grade: A+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 English mono track has some difficulties. There's hardly any hiss and the dialogue sounds fine, crisp and clear, as do the foley effects and the main titles. However, in the middle of chapter 3 on the disc, the background music suddenly gets warbly and murky, as if the source tape had been at the bottom of the sea since the late 1940s. It's a bit hard to listen to. The effect comes and goes, but occasionally is very prominent.

Audio Transfer Grade: D+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Production Notes
2 Featurette(s)
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Scanavo
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:03m:57s

Extra Extras:
  1. "Buttons and Bows" sing-alongPhoto gallery
Extras Review: While not exactly a special edition, there are a nice assortment of minor extras here. In addition to a nice-looking (though noisy) trailer, there is a sing-along for those who care to croon along with Bob and his concertina. There's also a photo gallery comprised of an insert, 2 lobby cards and several dozen black & white stills from the picture. Along with these materials are the same featurette on entertaining the troops that appears on the Ghost Breakers disc, as well as a 1945 set of excerpts from a Command Performance film shot for the troops in the waning days of WWII.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

A mildly amusing Western comedy that mostly rides on Hope's performance. The Technicolor is eye-popping, but there are some unfortunate problems with the musical background.

 


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