‘Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection’ brings the best from an icon

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has knocked it out of the park! Bringing 21classic comedies by a beloved American icon with “Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection.”

Bob Hope (aka Leslie Townes Hope) spent 80 years in the business with a career that included television, films and entertaining on the road. Appearing in more than 70 films and hosting the Academy Awards a record number of times, he also managed to write a few books.

He began his career in the 1920s with stage work and then became a voice on the radio before acting around 1934. Hope worked with several studios, actors and some of the time’s leading ladies including Katharine Hepburn, Hedy Lamarr, Jane Russell, Lucille Ball and Rosemary Clooney.

One of the most iconic pairings of singing and dancing, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby made several pictures that are still a thrill to watch today. Now, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment brings some of Hope’s best work with comedy, song and dance.

“The Big Broadcast of 1938” is Hope’s first appearance on-screen opposite W.C. Fields in this comedy on the ocean. “Thanks for the Memory,” also released in 1938, has Hope as a stay at home writer husband dealing with a working wife and a former love.

In the 1945 film “Road to Utopia,” directed by Hal Walker, Hope and Crosby play something they both are familiar with — vaudeville performers, except in Alaska. Before they even get there, a treasure map sets them on another course with others hot on their snowy trail!

Larry Lawrence, played by Hope, is a radio broadcaster who is checking out a Cuban haunted castle. Along for the mayhem is Paulette Goddard and Paul Lukas to make sure everything goes as crazy as spiritually possible in the 1940 film “The Ghost Breakers.”

The next year, “Road to Zanzibar” brings Hope and Crosby together again but this time in Africa as Chuck and Fearless bring hilarity to the jungle. Of course, they aren’t about to ignore the fact that the beautiful Dorothy Lamour is also part of the cast.

“Road to Morocco” brings the band back together as Hope and Crosby manage to drift to the Mediterranean landing where the Arabian Nights introduces them to Princess Shalmar of Karameesh. The Princess is the lovely Dorothy Lamour once again and Anthony Quinn is Mullay Kasim.

Hope is Sorrowful Jones in this 1949 film of the same name as a freewheeling man who enjoys his life. That is all about to change when a bet is placed and Jones gets a little girl as a marker. When the father doesn’t come back Jones gets a real life lesson! The film also stars the red-headed beauty Lucille Ball, William Demarest and Bruce Cabot.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us all to experience and re-experience in our own home theatres. There are films of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer, go to www.uphe.com.

“Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection” also includes an all-new documentary, “American Masters: This is Bob Hope.” It explores Hope’s life with unprecedented access to personal archives, film clips, radio and television shows. Billy Crystal reads excerpts of Hope’s writing and interviews with Dick Cavett, Linda Hope, Leonard Maltin, Tom Selleck, Kermit the Frog as well as writers Sherwood Schwartz and biographer Richard Zoglin.

Also included is “Bob Hope and the Road to Success,” “Entertaining the Troops,” “Command Performance 1944,” “Command Performance 1945” and “Hollywood Victory Caravan.”

It is equally important to mention the work that Hope did for our troops. Between 1941 and 1991, Bob Hope would pack up his own duffle bag and head out entertaining military personnel in over 57 USO (United Service Organizations) tours. It began in 1939 when Hope volunteered to perform for the passengers on the RMS Queen Mary.

Two years later, his first official USO performance was at March Field, Calif., and that’s practically in his own backyard. Hope would go global and travel during World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, the Lebanon Civil War, Iran-Iraq War and the Persian Gulf War.

That is what an amazing human being does for his fellow human beings. For his service, Hope was awarded the Sylvanus Thayer Award by the United States Military Academy in West Point in 1968. President Bill Clinton signed an act of Congress in 1997 giving Hope Honorary Veteran status.

“Thanks for the Memory” is a song Hope became famous for on that first volunteer gig and made the tune iconic on every tour and to this very day.

This is an extraordinary collection of Hope’s film performances and I have to say it is a pleasure to sit back and watch films that make me laugh, delight the eye and remember the reason we still celebrate Bob Hope.

The music is worth celebrating, the cinematography is stunning and yes I am partial to black and white films of all kinds. There are songs that have become part of the musical fabric of America and dance moves that inspired generations to come to put on their shoes and show us how far it could all go.

“Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection” is such a must-have for anyone who wants to truly expand their home entertainment library. What is also amazing is that these are films that families can sit together and enjoy. For me that’s important in showing the new generation the origins of good filmmaking and the music that created the stunning musicals we have on film today.

In the end — 21 classic comedies worth every moment to watch!

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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.