Friday, December 30, 2011

Fractured Flickers :: Bob Hope Tosses the Perfect Strike in The Paleface (1948).

As with most Bob Hope comedies, the premise of The Paleface is a little -- okay, a whole lot -- convoluted; but, eh, who the hell cares as long as Hope gets to run amok and do his thing, no matter what the character, consequence or setting. And to get to this particular favorite cinematic scene is gonna require some set up first. Here, Hope teams up with Jane Russell in a crackling wild west tale of mistaken identity, gun-fights, and Indian attacks. 

Here, Russell plays Calamity Jane, who, in an effort to get pardon from the governor for past crimes, agrees to help infiltrate a gang of no-goodniks who are smuggling guns and dynamite to a tribe of hostile Indians. But when her partner is killed, needing someone to take his place as "her husband" Jane tabs "Painless" Peter Potter, a frontier dentist and a cowardly doof of the highest order, as her dupe. But as the film progresses, thanks to Jane's clandestine sharp-shooting skills, Painless soon garners himself quite the reputation as a gunslinger, bringing them both into contact with the gunrunners. However, when their duplicity is discovered, the couple is captured and turned over to those Indians for disposal -- just when the blossoming romance between Painless and Jane finally reached full bloom.

And so, Painless faces a horrible death, with each leg strapped to a different sapling -- think of two catapults, sharing the same load, only firing in opposite directions.

But thanks to a loose boot, something goes wrong with the launch, and instead of getting wish-boned, Painless (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) flies off into the wild blue yonder...

Where, luckily, he lands in a tree.

But Painless best get down quick and act fast with a rescue, or his true love will meet a similarly gruesome fate -- of the permanent hot-foot variety.

Working fast, once out of that tree, Painless bumps into the disgraced Medicine Man, banned from the tribe for botching a certain paleface's execution. Unaware of that fact, and needing a disguise to sneak back into the camp undetected to save Jane, Painless commences with the fool-proof plan to make 'em trade, duds for duds.

But a fool and his plan are soon parted, for the kooky savage wants no part of it and heads for the hills, leading to what I think is the best scene in a whole movie full of great ones, where Hope gives chase, takes up a rock, draws a bead on his fleeing prey, and lets it fly...



Bob Feller would have been proud!
That scene just cracks me up. Every. Damn. Time!

Ah, but even with his perfect/imperfect disguise gained, will Painless be able to save his lady fare? Sorry. For that you'll have to track down and tune into the hilarious and somewhat "explosive" conclusion of The Paleface for yourself -- because there's no way the written word, or any amount of vid-caps, could do it justice. Trust me.

The Paleface (1948) Paramount Pictures / P: Robert L. Welch / D: Norman Z. McLeod / W: Edmund Hartmann, Frank Tashlin / C: Ray Rennahan / E: Ellsworth Hoagland / M: Victor Young / S: Bob Hope, Jane Russell, Robert Armstrong, Iris Adrian, Jackie Searl, Chief Yowlachie

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