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  Louisiana Purchase Filibuster VigilantlyBuy this film here.
Year: 1941
Director: Irving Cummings
Stars: Bob Hope, Vera Zorina, Victor Moore, Irène Bordoni, Dona Drake, Raymond Walburn, Maxie Rosenbloom, Phyllis Ruth, Frank Albertson, Donald MacBride, Andrew Tombes, Robert Warwick, Charles La Torre, Charles Laskey, Emory Parnell, Jack Norton
Genre: Comedy
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: A script of a movie adaptation of the musical Louisiana Purchase is sent to a lawyer by the studio to ensure it is fit for filming, but he has great reservations. Then he hits upon an idea: that they state very clearly at the start of the picture that this story is in no way based on truth or any real people, so as to avoid being sued; they even go to the extent of having this disclaimer sung by some Louisiana Belles at the beginning, just to make certain. Once the legal stuff is out of the way, we can watch the plot unfold, and the head of the Louisiana Purchasing Company, Jim Taylor (Bob Hope), returns to the office after a few weeks away to find trouble brewing...

This was Hope's first Technicolor film, and of its time in that the producers must have surmised that nobody was especially bothered whether they saw him in black and white or otherwise, so instead packed in as many attractive women as they could - they even introduced the whole thing with a bevy of beauties. But it's no show without Punch, so in amongst all this is our star firing off his one liners like the trouper he was, and in this case there's a political cant to the proceedings, though little that could be mistaken for actual satire as once the scheming has been set up, this owed a lot more to farce.

The problem Jim finds is that his colleagues have been illegally securing funds from the government for building work that they have already been paid for, and as he is the chairman of the company then it's Jim who will end up with his head on the chopping block. Not looking forward to a good few years behind bars, he works out a plan to discredit the senator who will be investigating them, but he turns out to be the teetotal, straightlaced, confirmed virgin Oliver P. Loganberry (Victor Moore). How to ensnare this pillar of society in a scandal is what troubles the company men, but Jim has an idea: photograph him in a compromising position and sell that to the press. What could possibly go wrong?

Hope was a Democrat at the time he shot this, so his character is on the same side of the political divide, but in truth he doesn't do them any favours with the character he plays here. Moore is playing a Republican, but one who seems far more fair minded and just than his opponents, giving the impression his lot are less likely to resort to subterfuge as Jim and his colleagues are. Whether this was intentional is unclear, but Hope has one advantage over his opponents, and that is his way with a wisecrack as he wittily runs rings around the Loganberry character. The female lead was Vera Zorina as Marina Von Minden, an Austrian noblewoman forced to emigrate to the States and start her life again.

It is Marina who is the girl who is hired by Jim to pose as the woman in the photograph, but when she gets to know the Senator she gets to like him, so even though they get the snaps, she decides she wants to marry him and in doing so, bring her mother over from the Europe in turmoil she has fled from. Although you'd be hard pressed to work it out, Louisiana Purchase was an Irving Berlin musical, but when nobody sings for about forty five minutes you can see that the tunes were largely ditched in favour of Hope and his gags. He doesn't sing, and there are only three or four songs that make it to the soundtrack in a limited form, but at least Vera gets to dance her ballet for a bit. For a few of those jokes you need a knowledge of American culture circa 1941, but while this isn't top drawer Hope, he is on very good form and there's a nice spoof of Mr Smith Goes to Washington for the finale.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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