Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Movie Post

Ready? I am -- I'm going to try to revive this feature, only slightly because the great Seth Masket has been putting me to shame lately with a few great posts.

So: while Seth is up to date and all with a post on a movie currently in theaters, what I watched for this...well, it's not recent. It's Louisiana Purchase, a Bob Hope movie from 1941 (from Paramount).

Okay, here goes. First the movie...I don't know. I really don't get Bob Hope -- that is, what all the fuss was about. I sort of get him as an Oscar host, or something like that, but as a major movie star? So this is a silly little comedy/romance/musical with really very little going for it, as a movie. At least unless you love Bob Hope, I guess. Well, there are Irving Berlin songs, but to tell the truth they didn't do much for me. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood.

As far as the's about a crooked scam that Hope is the inadvertent front man for, and the US Senator who comes to New Orleans to expose it. As regular readers know, I love stuff about corruption, but I'm not really seeing much of interest here. I suppose the obvious hook, however, is that it ends with a Jimmy Stewart type filibuster, by Hope (who is in the Louisiana legislature), I have no idea whether LA had filibusters then or now, but if you want a (slightly) comic take on the classic Jimmy Stewart filibuster, here's your movie. Again, it's a 1941 movie, just two years after Mr. Smith.

What I actually found interesting were two jokes. I have no idea how to properly interpret them, but (and again, 1941) I thought they were worth the trip. My transcription, if I get any of it wrong:

Marina von Minden (a refugee from Vienna):
  I have my first citizen papers already.
  In a few years, I get my second papers.
  And then I go on...relief.
  Heil Roosevelt!

Republican US Senator Oliver Loganberrry:  
  ...ah, Coolidge and Hoover.
  Well, in those days it was still legal for a Republican to be President.
Yvonne Bordelaise:
  Why, isn't it legal anymore?
  It hasn't come up recently.
  But if it ever does, I don't think the new Supreme Court would declare it Constitutional.

So: I can't really recommend this one, but as I said I'm just not a huge Bob Hope fan, so perhaps others would like it more than I did. It's fine, but just not something that I'd go out of my way for at all. As for the politics...mostly if you're really interested in popular representations of filibusters. But still, I thought the FDR jokes were interesting, so that made it worth it for me.

I have a few things stacked up to watch, so perhaps I'll get back to making this feature more regular for a while, at least during the off-season.

1 comment:

  1. I think Hope was so popular back in the day because he was doing something that people couldn't get in media at the time. No television, no internet. Hope was (for his day) a snarky character who chewed scenery and broke the fourth wall with abandon. Something like Groucho, only 20 times more prolific.

    The first quote I can't begin to guess at, beyond my recollection of Hope being a fairly staunch Republican, politically. So it may have just been a before-its-time shot at the welfare state and immigration.

    But the latter certainly made me think of FDR's "court-packing" effort. Only I looked it up, and that came from 1937 (and failed a few months later). So that seems a bit dated a reference, even for Hope and his writers.

    However, (and with due caution advised as I quote Wikipedia) there's this passage discussing the aftermath of the failure of Roosevelt's bill:

    "With the retirement of Justice Willis Van Devanter, the Court's composition began to move solidly in support of Roosevelt's legislative agenda. By the end of 1941, following the deaths of Justices Benjamin N. Cardozo (1938) and Pierce Butler (1939), and the retirements of Van Devanter (1937), George Sutherland (1938), Louis Brandeis (1939), James Clark McReynolds (1941), and Charles Evans Hughes (1941), only two Justices (former Associate Justice, by then promoted to Chief Justice, Harlan Fiske Stone, and Associate Justice Owen Roberts) remained from the Court Roosevelt inherited in 1933."

    So it appears that FDR had at least a majority on the court by 1940. From there you can see where Hope would project that the court would be a rubber stamp for FDR and the Democrats. At least so far to get a laugh, I don't really think Hope was a historical teahadist.


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