Cinemagraphe

Review: Here Come the Girls – 1953

Bob Hope Here Come the Girls 1953

"In the year 1900, there lived a chorus boy named Stanley Snodgrass, who worked his way up from the gutter... only to discover that he had a round trip ticket."

Stanley Snodgrass (Bob Hope) is convinced he belongs on the theater stage, an ambition he gets from his mother (Zamah Cunningham) who has groomed him for stardom despite the objections of her husband (Millard Mitchell) and also despite a complete lack of demonstrable ability in the son.

Here Come the Girls starts off with a musical-ersatz-comedy (which is also titled "Here Come the Girls") playing with lines of showgirls on parade and snowfall tumbling down outside the theatre building. The costumes are historical to an older era, but the lack of skin-covering is purely 1950s America, and these ladies on display look California-tanned despite the season and the prevailing styles of the turn of the century we're supposedly looking at.

Amid the hub-bub of the stage swirling with bodies, Arlene Dahl and Tony Martin are center stage and singing, but we soon spot a certain chorus boy on the sidelines starting to malfunction, stepping out of time to everyone else and then not hitting his marks on the stage, finally gumming up the production completely and sending the star actress falling from a high perch during the song climax.

The malfunctioning chorus boy is of course our star Bog Hope. Though he gets fired and thrown out of the theatre into the falling snow, he is soon integrated back into the workings of the stage because a maniac killer (Robert Strauss) has escaped prison and will be targeting for murder whoever is the boyfriend of Irene Baily (Arlene Dahl) the stage actress and singer that the murderer is obsessed with. Therefore, her actual boyfriend (Tony Martin) gets out of the way and stage producer Harry Fraser (Fred Clark) elevates the rehired and unsuspecting chorus boy Bob Hope into a starring role so that he will be the probable victim instead of the expensive and popular leading man. By this point this satire of gay-90's musicals has modulated strictly into Bog Hope comedy-land.

There are a lot of musical numbers featuring many chorus girls in costumes meant for exploitation via the sharp Technicolor, and though the eight songs (by Jay Livingston for the music and Ray Evans are for the lyrics) are not our main reason for the film, some of the touches are given nice showcases, such as the dancer Inesita doing a mock-flemenco piece for the song It's Torment before Hope and Dahl take over singing the lyrics, ending with Hope careening around the stage and falling off into a kettle drum in the orchestra pit (which reminded me of a similar disaster on stage in the "Academy Awards" sequence from Naked Gun 33 1/3 released 1994). Because of Hope's character's lack of stage talent the cast resorts to writing Hope's lines on their hands, backs and anything else that's handy because he is constantly forgetting his lines. For a funny portrayal of the backstage functioning of a stage production, Here Come the Girls provides plenty of anecdotes.

Unsurprisingly, Bob Hope's character expands his cracks like a peacock when he is engulfed with an outsized celebrity ego when stardom hits, and combined with the trademark cowardice that Hope's characters usually exhibit whenever danger is near, we've got Hope begging to be let off the stage and then pushing his way back on in equal measure.

The stage antics, due to Hope's incompetence as a stage performer, which both horrifies and produces laughter out of the dignified audiences dressed in 1900's tails and coats, is maybe the best part of the humor in Here Come the Girls since so much of it is physical like something that could have been drawn out of the silent era or put in front of any 21st audience will the same clarity.

Because of the seen-then-disappeared presence of Strauss's maniac killer, Hope is fired and then rehired repetitiously so that we get more stage-wrecking scenes while the stage producer played by Fred Clark is chomping at the bit to finally fire for good the theater-trashing ham he has to play up to and beg to get back onto the boards. Meanwhile William Demerest, as a police detective Logan, keeps trying to entrap the sneaky killer and needs Hope out in front and as obvious to the audience as possible.

Here Come the Girls is a Bog Hope picture in just about every sense, produced by Hope Enterprises for Paramount, has the requisite Bing Crosby joke, and features Hope through most of the story, though Fred Clark, Tony Martin and Arlene Dahl get some time to be on their own with the camera.

The only truly mystifying element of the tale is how unbelievable Rosemary Clooney (as Daisy Crockett, who belts out what seems to me to be the music centerpiece of the film "Be my baby, Ali Baba") is shown to us as not just a singer but she is also inexplicably Hope's character's long-suffering girlfriend. She weathers his ego-saturated obnoxiousness without registering a normal reaction to it at all, a completely broken link to reality that is probably necessary for a Bob Hope character to survive the full runtime of a movie like this and is, intended or not, hilarious or cloying depending on your point of view.

This is a well-produced stage-musical-disaster-comedy with Bob Hope doing a lot of what he does best with a good supporting cast. I've seen the music of r this film dismissed as "forgettable," but that's too harsh. Tony Martin and Arlene Dahl are fine and Rodemary Clooney's voice is a precision instrument for the goofy self-satirizing "Be my baby, Ali Baba."

Related:

Bob Hope in Here Come the Girls - 1953

Bob Hope and Jane Russell in The Paleface - 1948

Bob Hope and Jane Russell in Son of Paleface - 1952

Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard in The Cat and the Canary - 1939


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Original Page Sept 20, 2015 | Updated July 3, 2017, Jan 2018