The fine folks at Kino Lorber continue to produce great Blu-ray discs for Bob Hope’s filmography. Case in point the screwball comedy Thanks for the Memory.
Thanks for the Memory is the type of romantic comedy this reviewer adores. Sharp witty dialog. Funny lovable characters beyond the main characters. A keen plot that does not need to make characters into lying sociopaths to create drama. Because as anyone knows that’s been in a marriage the financial responsibilities alone are enough to be an antagonist in a film.
Steve and Anne Merrick (Bob Hope and Shirley Ross) are a down-on-their-luck but happily married couple. Steve is a writer with dreams of publishing his first novel. After a visit to Anne’s friend and former flame, the very rich publisher Gil Morrell (Otto Kruger), suggested Steve quit his job to work full-time as a writer. With Steve doing just that Merrick’s life is turned topsy turvy, so much so, it could end it all.
Part of the fun of the compact and fast-paced Thanks for the Memory is how it at every turn surprises an audience with gems of dialog, performance, or story. It’s always fleet-footed enough to have one be delighted by the twists and the quick-witted nature of the entire enterprise. It moves so fast that it has time for a musical number or two or three. Even when one sees the twist the film is winding up for, it is done in a way that’s smarter than the average modern-day rom-com.
The film is equally aided by the charm of Shirley Ross more than Bob Hope. Hope is fine here but it’s Ross that has to do all of the heavy lifting. Her performance is so winning and charming that you’d have to be foolish as Hope’s Steve to think that Ross’s Anne was anything but smitten with her husband and no one else. In fact, the film’s entire structure is based on the male jealous ego and assumptions men make. Ross helps this part of the story seem organic and not just some plot machination.
One will find the brevity of the entire film part of the charm. Thanks for the Memory manages to tell a convoluted plot (is there any other kind in a Screwball Rom-Com?) from A to Z with the skill and style that many modern Rom Comscouldn’t even muster with all the money and star power in the world.
Universal has provided a marvelous transfer for this Blu-ray release. The sharp and wonderful black-and-white image has very little in the way of blemishes, scratches, or any defects.
They include the following;
- NEW Audio Commentary by Filmmaker/Historian Michael Schlesinger
- Theatrical Trailer
The all-new Audio Commentary by Filmmaker/Historian Michael Schlesinger begins by confirming that this was the fourth Bob Hope film. Some of the details include the fact this was based on a play and was a hit song; this is a reteaming of Shirley Ross and Hope; the songwriters behind both songs; a discussion about the career and personal history of Shirley Ross; a discussion of the original play and the pre-code film this is based on; a discussion about the career and personal history of Otto Kruger; a discussion about the career up until this point of Bob Hope – a larger discussion of the films he did post-release of this film, which was not a success and wouldn’t have a huge hit until Cat in the Canary; a larger discussion of the various supporting actors that populate the film – including the various films they appear in; and much more. Schlesinger does a great job of giving us a detailed and informative track on the film.
KLSC Bob Hope Promo (4:18) – Kino Lorber has put together a wonderful long-form trailer for all the Studio Classic Releases featuring Bob Hope.
Rounding out the special features are trailers for Thanks for the Memory (2:07); Never Say Die (0:55); The Cat and the Canary (3:40); Road to Singapore (2:38); The Ghost Breakers (2:15); Road to Zanzibar (2:16); Caught in the Draft (2:21); Nothing But the Truth (2:02); My Favorite Blonde (2:17); Road to Morocco (2:13); Road to Utopia (2:15); Where There’s Life (1:57); The Paleface (1:50); Sorrowful Jones (2:19); Fancy Pants (2:13); Alias Jesse James (2:13)
The Final Thought
Thanks for the Memory is Bob Hope at his Rom-Com best. Kino Lober has put together a nice Blu-ray for this release. Recommended.