An above-average Bob Hope costume comedy, Monsieur Beaucaire borrows its title and inspiration from a silent Rudolph Valentino romance-drama (which was in turn based on a novel and play by Booth Tarkington), but transforms the original premise of a duke disguised as a barber into a farce about a real barber and a duke who switch places.
Beaucaire (Hope) is barber to Louis XV of France — until the former’s romantic altercations with a chambermaid named Mimi (Joan Caulfield) inadvertently result in banishment for both Mimi and himself. At the same time, the king finds it expedient to rid the court of the Duc le Chandre, a renowned swordsman and celebrated ladies’ man, by making a political marriage between le Chandre and Princess Maria of Spain (Marjorie Reynolds).
Romantic and political intrigues collide as sinister forces conspire to draw Spain and France into war. As with the romantic comedies of Shakespeare, the plot involves parallel "upper-class" and "lower-class" storylines — the difference being that here the upper-class romance is in the background and the lower-class one in the foreground. Even so, the real duke provides a typical swashbuckling model of honor and heroism, contrasting nicely with Beaucaire’s churlish buffoonery.
Seven years ago, after nearly six decades of marriage to an active Roman Catholic, Bob Hope was received into the Catholic Church, and became a frequent communicant. His funeral Mass was celebrated on July 30 at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in North Hollywood, and on Sunday, August 3, he was remembered at a memorial Mass celebrated by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C. at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
This time out the boys take their Road act to Arabian Nights territory, where, as usual, they sing (especially Bing), crack wise (especially Bob), and vie over Lamour, who again has an agenda of her own. The story, which is taken about as seriously as the plot of a typical Looney Tunes cartoon, has Bing and Bob shipwrecked and washed up on the road to Morocco.
One of Bob Hope’s best comic-thriller vehicles, My Favorite Blonde benefits from its semi-serious spy-thriller ambiance, tolerably cogent plot, scene-stealing penguin, and above all one of the more human, less caricatured, less one-dimensionally narcissistic characters in Hope’s movie oeuvre.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.