Bob Hope was always one of my favorite entertainers.
He was hammy on screen, funny on TV, and pretty much a lead pipe cinch to entertain the troops both literally overseas and figuratively at home with his USO specials.
Bob Hope typically played a cowardly hero to perfection as a wise-cracking king of the fast retort in most of his roles. He was a G-rated movie with R-rated innuendo during an era when mainstream movies fell under heavy censorship.
In 1961, Bob appeared in a comedy that centered around the misadventures of a confirmed bachelor/writer who ends up in a new suburban California neighborhood on a research project about the lifestyle of the local residents.
The urban sprawl meant an explosion of these styles of brand new neighborhoods throughout North America. It also meant the rise of the commuter because of the distances between suburbia and work.
That meant an explosion of cars to handle commuter roles and domestic responsibilities, in other words two cars. One was a commuter car and the other family vehicle was used for local duties such as trips to the newly built shopping centers in suburbia.
Before you slip into a coma from acute boredom generated by my urban sprawl history lesson, I will get to the point: ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ had some of the most incredible period car footage ever filmed in a movie not about cars. Start with Lana Turner was behind the wheel of a 1961 Plymouth convertible, Bob in an even rarer ’61 Dodge convertible, throw in a period hot rod, and add a nearby neighbor with a flashy 300 G drop top.
The neighborhood street scene had a variety of vintage iron that included a ’58 Chevy hardtop, along with an early 50s Ford cutting off a ’57 Chevy.
One freeway gridlock scene had too many vehicles to even comprehend, but it was an amazing look at a bygone era when these vehicles were as common as Elvis hit songs.
For me, it was the perfect storm: Bob Hope at his wisecracking best in a movie with adult overtones (during a time when that angle required seriously creative writing to get by the censors) and a tremendous array of Detroit’s finest from the 50s and early 60s. Two antennae up for this one.
How could a movie possibly get any better than that?