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Saturday, March 5, 2016

THEY GOT ME COVERED -- Movie Review by Porfle

Bob Hope's cowardly, vain, wisecracking persona is given quite a workout in the snappy 1943 wartime comedy THEY GOT ME COVERED, which finds him as a not-too-successful newspaper reporter on the trail of Axis spies in the very heart of Washington, D.C.

Bob plays Robert Kittredge, who has been right on top of several big breaking stories and missed every one of them.  Given one last chance by his extremely exasperated boss Mr. Mason (Donald MacBride doing one of his great "nerve-wracked" routines) to come across with a big story, Bob stumbles right across one when a key informant named Vanescu (John Abbott) sells him information on a saboteur ring in the city right before they're attacked by enemy hitmen on Vanescu's trail.

Following the slimmest of clues, Bob and his beautiful gal-pal Christina (Dorothy Lamour), a reporter for the same paper, find their way into the secret haunts of the bad guys while dodging knives, bullets, and other dangers at every turn.

This sets us up for endless scenes of Bob either trying to fast-talk his way out of sticky situations or engaging in slapstick bits of business that border on the cartoonish.

Lenore Aubert plays another femme fatale not unlike her character in the later film ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, and Hope's scenes with her are a nice contrast to his more lighthearted banter with lovely Lamour. 

The Axis powers are further represented by Otto Preminger as German spymaster Fauscheim, Edward Ciannelli as Baldanacco, and Phillip Ahn ("Kung Fu") as Nichimuro.

Other familiar faces that pop up here and there include Donald Meek, Arnold Stang, Gil Perkins, George Chandler, Anne O'Neal, Frank Sully, and Mary Treen.  (Hope crony Bing Crosby's voice can be heard coming out of a music box in one scene, prompting an appropriately withering crack from Bob.)

Being that this is wartime and all, there are a couple of surprisingly grim murders of characters that we've come to like, including the intrepid Vanescu and a cute blonde exotic dancer (Marion Martin) whom the bad guys set Kittredge up with in order to discredit him.  (Although after she belts out the awful Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer tune "Palsy Walsy", you might want to kill her yourself.) 

The combination of light comedy with darker, more noirish qualities is both disquieting and oddly compelling.

Otherwise the film is pure fluff, not all that dazzling but not at all hard to take, either.  The chemistry is nice between old pals Hope and Lamour, and Aubert as a sexy seductress is always welcome. 

Director David Butler (CALAMITY JANE, YOU'LL FIND OUT, BRIGHT EYES) stages a slapstick finale inside a swanky beauty salon that brings it all to a frenetic finish.

If you're a fan of Bob Hope, of course, chances are you'll love THEY GOT ME COVERED.  I'm always reminded that Hope is one of Woody Allen's main inspirations, and it's fun imagining Woody's classic dweeb character from such films as BANANAS or SLEEPER performing this role.  Still, Bob was one of a kind, and this is a fun vehicle for his distinctive comedy style.

Read our review of the SAMUEL GOLDWYN COLLECTION VOL.2


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