Without a doubt, Bob Hope was one of (if not) the best comedic actors of his era. During a time after Charlie Chaplin had peaked in silent films, Hope picked up the comedic torch, and during a time where actors consistently appeared in 3-5 films a year, and an early recognizable title was 1940’s Road to Singapore, the first of several Road To films with him and friends Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour.
The Princess and the Pirate, made in 1944, was made during this …ime, and Hope plays Sylvester the Great, a magician/actor on a ship that we quickly find out also has a woman on board named Margaret (Virginia Mayo, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), a princess who has decided to flee from her father. The ship that Sylvester and Margaret is on is taken by pirates, including “The Hook” (Victor McLaglen, Rio Grande).
With the help of a pirate named Featherhead (Walter Brennan, Rio Bravo), Sylvester and Margaret are given a map to some hidden treasure before they go, and they arrive in a tough port town, where Margaret is kidnapped by a town official (Walter Slezak, Heidi) and Sylvester does what he can to rescue her.
The film has got some chuckles in it and it’s worth watching to enjoy Hope at the top of his game, and it really is an encouraging sign to see MGM release older films like this on DVD.
The Dolby Mono track doesn’t really add too much to the viewing experience, but sounds very clear and reproduces the score clearly without any issues.
The fullscreen 1.33:1 looks very good, reproduced from the Technicolor format and looks excellent for a 60 year old film. The colors look vivid and are not saturated, but the overall picture still looks dark and subdued, even during the scenes shot in daylight, so there’s a mixed bag.
All that’s here is the trailer, which makes for nostalgic viewing seeing as how the trailer pays a lot more attention to Goldwyn than it does to Hope.
At a very cheap price, you can pick up a decent comedy by one of the most well-loved comedic talents of the 20th century. The performances are very good and entertaining, and the film looks much better than you would expect. Those curious about older-era films should rent this one and look at what all the fuss was about.
Special Features List