Fancy Pants Reteams Bob Hope, Lucille Ball

Fancy Pants artwork. Courtesy of Paramount.

Fancy Pants is newly available on Blu-ray after being remastered in HD from a 4K scan of the original YCM Three-Color Technicolor Elements.

After feeling let down by Sorrowful Jones, I decided to make Monday night a Bob Hope/Lucille Ball double feature. Hope and Ball team up in this Western and it’s very hysterical. It’s not just that the comedy is way better in this movie but we see the duo at their full comic potential. Slapstick comedy is a must in any comedy starring either of the actor. Music, too, but that’s more so for Hope than Ball, who–once again–does not sing her own songs. In any event, this film is a musical adaptation of Leo McCarey’s 1935 film, Ruggles of Red Gap. Both films are based on the Harry Leon Wilson novel.

Humphrey aka Arthur Tyler (Bob Hope) is an American actor who is broke and stuck in London. When he first meets Efflie Floud (Lea Penman) and her daughter, Agatha (Lucille Ball), he really makes an impression. He puts on some of his best acting skills after George Van Basingwell hires his company to act as an aristocratic family. Next thing you know, Effie hires him to work as her family’s butler. Unfortunately, Agatha’s boyfriend, Cart Belknap (Bruce Cabot) is having none of it. Moreover, Efflie’s telegram also gets lost in translation because Big Squaw residents think Humphrey is royalty! Here’s an actor pretending to be a butler for the family and now an Earl for their town. If this is not enough, President Theodore Roosevelt (John Alexander) comes to town, which also ups the stakes and comedy antics.

Behind the camera, George Marshall is no stranger to comedy or Western films. He is certainly able to get the best of both his stars, let alone the ensemble surrounding them. There are some hysterical sequences in this film, be it jumping on a horse or a chase through a saloon. But really, it’s a joy to watch Bob Hope and Lucille Ball in a picture together. I’d be remiss if I did not point out that John Alexander played a mentally ill character that thought he was Theodore Roosevelt in Arsenic and Old Lace.

Not many filmmakers are able to say that they were working during the first six decades in Hollywood history. However, Fancy Pants director George Marshall is one of the few. Among the many films in the Chicago native’s filmography are films like Destry Rides Again and How the West was Won. In any event, the guy knew how to direct comedies especially as Hollywood started transitioning to sound in motion pictures. I mean, here’s a guy known for his work with Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, W.C. Fields, Jackie Gleason, and Will Rogers. By the time that the 1940s come around, Marshall is known for working in Westerns as much as comedies. Paramount gave him a long-term deal in the 1940s and the rest is history. You can find his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

George Marshall directs Bob Hope and Lucille Ball to their fullest comic potential with laughs that never cease in the hysterical Fancy Pants. As of press time, Fancy Pants is also available to stream on Paramount+. It is definitely worth your time if you want to laugh up a storm.

Bonus Feature

  • Theatrical Trailer

DIRECTOR: George Marshall
SCREENWRITERS: Edmund Hartmann and Robert O’Brien
CAST: Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Bruce Cabot, Jack Kirkwood, Lea Penman, Hugh French, Eric Blore, Joseph Vitale, John Alexander, Norma Varden

Paramount released Sorrowful Jones in theaters on July 19, 1950. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.