Friday, March 20, 2015

Lumpy and the Dentist

Lumpy was Bob Hope's nickname for co-star Jane Russell during the production of their top grossing 1948 movie, "The Paleface." It was screen writer Frank Tashlin's parody of practically every Western cliche. This movie has all the Western basics, from the beautiful heroine to the shootout on main street. But in this film, the gal is handy with a gun and the hero is a cowardly dentist. This is the last film of the current season of the "Classic Movie Series" in Bigfork with the popular Bob Hope as the goofball in this classic, and is our annual “April Fool” comedy.  "The Paleface" will be shown by host Jack Nachbar at the Edge Center Theater in Bigfork on Thursday, April 9 at 6:30, free of charge. Jack will introduce the movie and show a cartoon from the same era.

The rather clueless dentist Painless Peter Potter, played by Bob Hope, was a rather cowardly character, who often "fanaticized" that he was a crack shot and fearless Indian fighter. Calamity Jane was a fearless undercover government agent needing a cover story. The Bob and Jane characters filled the bill perfectly, and she even got Potter to marry her. How he got to be sheriff and ended up in a main street shootout is the rest of the story.

“I discovered that my role was...dry and flat. When the critics later said I was ‘expressionless,’ I knew I managed to hit it: a stone face”.

Born Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell (1921 – 2011), Jane Russell was one of Hollywood's leading sex symbols in the 1940s and 1950s. She was a Minnesota native born in Bemidji and her stage/singing tradition came from her mom who was an actress with a road troupe. Relocated to California, Jane got her first film role in 1943 in “The Outlaw.” Her career included music and film work appearing in over 20 films. Off stage she founded the World Adoption International Fund.  Her accomplishments were recognized with Grauman’s Chinese restaurant hand and foot prints plus a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.

Jane’s favorite co-star was Bob Hope.  They had an amazing “chemistry” on screen that made her the perfect foil for Bob’s humor. Bob once introduced her as “the two and only Jane Russell” and once quipped, “Culture is the ability to describe Jane Russell without moving your hands.”

Once Jane said she was disappointed in most of her films but she liked making “The Paleface.” "This picture was a complete package," she said, "No lines were changed, one director, always on schedule, and no sweat. What a pleasure! I thought, 'So this is how movies are made? I can't believe it.' It was fun from morning till night." and

Jane thought “Bob Hope was a ball...He's even funnier off screen than on, and everything's relaxed except his chocolate eyes, which never stop darting, never missing a thing.”

Leslie Townes "Bob" Hope, (1903 – 2003) is an American legend.  In his career he was a vaudevillian, actor, singer, dancer, athlete, and author with a career spanning nearly 80 years. And off-screen, sharing his talents with troops around the world makes him personally memorable to millions and an icon to the public. He was in over 70 films and shorts, including the "Road" movies co-starring Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. He hosted the Academy Awards fourteen times (more than any other host) and authored fourteen books. He was married for 69 years.

Many feel his long career serving the United Service Organizations (USO) to entertain active service American military personnel was his most endearing legacy. He made 57 tours for the USO between 1941 and 1991 being declared an honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces in 1997 by act of the U.S. Congress. Above is Bob entertaining military in 1944.

He was willing to go anywhere to entertain the military.  The list includes WW11, Korean War, the Vietnam War, the third phase of the Lebanon Civil War, the latter years of the Iran–Iraq War, and the 1990–1991 Persian Gulf War. Above is Bob entertaining military at the Lackland Air Force Base in 1990.

"The Paleface" won an Oscar for "Best Song," "Buttons and Bows". The picture got mixed critical reviews when it was released, but the public had the last word. "The Paleface" was one of the top five top grossing movies of the year, and proved to be Bob Hope's most popular film. Come and see for yourself if the 1948 public was right. "The Paleface" will be shown FREE at the Edge Center Theater on April 9 at 6:30. Everyone who enjoys a good laugh is cordially invited.

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