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Bob Hope (1903-2003)

  1. Cary Grant, Arsenic and Old Lace, 1941.  
    Frank Capra is one of the great Hollywood directors.... and liars!  He told Grant that he was the only actor in America who could do justice to the screwball role of Mortimer Brewster. So what did Capra tell  Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan (!) and Richard Traviis (who?). Hope was keen, Of course, he was! It was a screwball comedy for Frank Capra. Paramount, however, would not loan him.  For all the usual (financial) r. What if it was a hit - and he became even  bigger, more expensive  star?  What if it wasn’t  a hit - and it  ruined him  at the box-office? ?  When (all) Hope was lost, Jack Warner borrowed Grant and had Mortimer beefed  up for him . Shot in 1941, the release was delayed, as per contract, until after the play closed… in 1944. Cary Grant felt his Mortimer was say over the top.  So did the scriptwriting Epstein twins.  Capra agreed.  He’d solve it in the final edit Except  he went to film WWII  for  his superb  Why We Fight series.  Hope took over two future Grant vehicles:  They Got Me Covered, 1943;  The Iron Petticoat, 1956 - so Grant took over Hope's Operation Petticoat  in 1959!

  2. Eddie Bracken, The Fleet’s In, 1941. Paramount first viewed the sailors-ashore comedy-musical as a Hope and Crosby vehicle. Instead, the suits decided to boost its new talent - William Holden, Dortohy Lamour, Betty Hutton and Bracken. Bing ’n’ Bob were better.
  3. Franchot Tone, True To Life, 1943.  The old firm of Hope and Bing Crosby were first due as radio writers trying to save  their failing show. They turned into Dick Powell and Tone.
  4. Bud Abbott, Abbott & Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff, 1949.   After the triumph  of Bud Abbott & Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein in 1948, Universal ordered more of the same...
  5. Lou Costello, Abbott & Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff, 1949. … and found it in what had been written as Easy Does It for Hope and glory, Universal had the solo role re-tailored for the suddenly hotter comic duo… opposite Karloff in a role orignally penned for a woman!
  6. Marlon Brando, Guys and Dolls, 1956.  Jumping the gun, thinking it had won the rights battle for the Broadway hit musical, Paramount unveiled its ho-hum-yawn casting of Hope, Betty Grable and Jane Russell.
  7. Tony Curtis, Some Like It Hot, 1958.    Co-writer and director Billy Wilder’s first thoughts for “the impossible comedy” (cross-dressing, homosexuality, dead bodies, gangsters, the St Valentine’s Day massacre) was Bob, Danny Kaye and little Mitzi Gaynor! Ironically, the perfect comedy’s title came from Hope’s sixth feature, circa 1938.
  8. Cary Grant, Operation Petticoat, 1959.  Regrets, he had a few and this was a biggie!
  9. Tony Curtis, Who Was That Lady? 1959.  Old mates Hope and Bing Crosby saw the comedy as a kind Road to Quantico  as Bing helps Bob to concoct a story that he’s an FBI agent and the girl that his wife saw him kissing was… a Russian spy!  No, didn’t work any better with Martin and Tony Curtis. (Hope and Crosby made their seventh and last Road movie, The Road To Hong Kong, in  1961 - and shouldn’t have). Mr Shell Oil Junior talking like Cary Grant was all Curtis’ idea.
  10. Ray Walston,  Kiss Me Stupid, 1964.   Director Billy Wilder had to find a rapid replacement for Peter Sellers after the UK star had several heart  attacks and  died... eight times!   (He survived). Almost everyone turned Billy  down:  Hope, Tom, Ewell, Danny Kaye, Tony Randall.
  11. Cyril Ritchard, Half A Sixpence, 1967.   Paramount didn’t quite understand what it had in the musical based onHG Wells’ very British Kipps - wanting Bob, Ann-Margret and Dick Van Dyke for the top roles!Why Bob? “Because,” said veteran director George Sidney, “he’d been born in England.”
  12. George Burns, The Sunshine Boys1975.
  13. George Burns, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1977.     Director Michael Schultz, said Rolling Stone critic Paul Nelson, “would seem to need direction merely to find the set, let alone the camera.” Which explains why he saw Hope, Elton John or Barry Manilow as Mr Kite! The mindless morass of most Pepper and Abbey Road songs formed, said Newsweek’s David Ansen, “a dangerous resemblance to wallpaper.”

 





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