My Favorite Brunette

My Favorite Brunette is a 1947 movie spoofing movie detectives and the film noir style.


Starring Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour, it also features Lon Chaney, Jr. playing Willie, a character based on his Of Mice and Men role Lennie; Peter Lorre as Kismet, a comic take on his many sinister roles; and cameo appearances by Alan Ladd and Hope’s Road Movie partner, Bing Crosby.


Bob Hope was born in 1903 as Leslie Townes Hope in England, the fifth of seven sons.The family emigrated to the United States through Ellis Island in 1908, and settled in Cleveland, Ohio.


One story of why he changed his name from Leslie to Bob was that in school they would call the roll as - Hope,Leslie - and classmates shortened it to “hopeless”.


Another story is that he changed it because he liked racecar driver Bob Burman. No one knows which one is the true version.


From the age of 12, Hope worked at a variety of odd jobs at a local boardwalk. He entered a lot of dancing and amateur talent contests and won prizes for his impersonation of Charlie Chaplin. He also boxed briefly under the name Packy East, once making it to the semifinals of the Ohio novice championship.


Hope made his first film in New York in 1934, an Educational Pictures studio short-subject comedy called Going Spanish. Hope didn’t think much of the film and when interviewed about it, he cracked, "When they catch John Dillinger, they're going to make him sit through it twice."


Educational Pictures fired him soon after that. Paramount Pictures signed Hope for the 1938 film The Big Broadcast of 1938. It was in that film that Hope introduced the song that would become his trademark, Thanks for the Memory.


He became one of Paramount’s biggest stars and stayed with the studio through the 50s.


Dorothy Lamour was born Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton in New Orleans, Louisiana. After she won the 1931 Miss New Orleans beauty contest, she and her mother moved to Chicago, where she worked as an elevator operator for the Marshall Field department store.


She began singing with various bands and in 1936, moved to Hollywood and began appearing regularly in films for Paramount Pictures. The role that made her a star was Ulah (a sort of female Tarzan) in TheJungle Princess in 1936.


She wore a soon-to-be-famous sarong and captivated viewers with her sensuous and exotic appearance. A lot of people thought she had adopted her last name Lamour, from the French word for "love", as a box-office ploy.


In fact, the name was close to a family name; she adapted it from Lambour, which was the last name of her stepfather.


During WWII, Lamour was largely responsible for starting up the Hollywood war bond tours , where movie stars would travel the country selling war bonds. Lamour alone promoted the sale of over $21 million dollars worth of war bonds andother stars promoted the sale of a billion more.

She will probably be remembered most for her roles in the “Road” pictures with Bob Hope & Bing Crosby. Of these she said, “I was the happiest and highest-paid straight woman in business.”

 

Peter Lorre, playing Kismet tonight, was born in Hungary as Laszlo Lowenstein and worked as a bank clerk before making his acting debut in Switzerland.

 

But he remained largely unknown, acting in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, until Fritz Lang cast him as the psychopathic child killer Hans Beckert in 1931’s M .

 

After making several more films in Germany, Lorre left just as the Nazis came topower.And reportedly, it was Josef Goebbels himself who warned Lorre to flee Germany because of his Jewish heritage. He went first to Paris and then to London.

 

When he arrived in Great Britain, his first meeting with a British director was with Alfred Hitchcock. By smiling and laughing as Hitchcock talked, the director didn’t realize that Lorre had a limited command of the English language.

 

Hitchcockcast him in 1934’s The Man Who Knew TooMuch and Lorre learned much of his part phonetically. He left England and arrived in Hollywood in 1935. His first year in Hollywood, he appeared in Crime and Punishment and in a series of Mr. Moto movies during the late 1930s.

 

He appeared with Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon (1941), and again with Bogart in Casablanca (1942) and seven other films during the 1940s. He and Bogie became good friends and he convinced Bogart to marry Lauren Bacall, despite the age difference, telling them,"Five good years are better than none!"

 

Lorre was the very first on-screen James Bond villain; he played Le Chiffre in a 1954 version of Casino Royale on a TV show. During the Communist Hollywood witch hunt of the 1940s and 1950s, Lorre was interviewed by investigators and asked to name anyone suspicious he had met since coming to the US.

 

He responded by giving them a list of every single person he knew.

 

In 1977, his daughter Catharine Lorre was almost abducted in Los Angeles by the serial killers known as the Hillside Stranglers. She was stopped by Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, who were impersonating policemen but they let her go when they realized she was PeterLorre's daughter.

 

Turned out, the killers were big fans of Lorre for his serial killer role in the movie M. Catharine Lorre didn't realize how close she came to becoming one of their victims until after they were arrested.

 

Lorre was also a favorite characterization for Warner Bros. cartoonists, and he tangled several times with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. He is also said to be the inspiration for the ghost mascot of the General Mills cereal, Boo Berry. And the creator of the cartoon The Ren &Stimpy Show said that Lorre had inspired the character of Ren.

 

James Collins is played by Reginald Denny, who had a 50 year career that included silent film, theater, movies and TV. He also loved model airplanes and embarked on a surprising second career as something of an aviation pioneer in drone technology. He formed a company during WWII that made radio-controlled drones for targetpractice.

 

The company, Radioplane, made thousands of drones during the war and was later sold to Northrup. Near the end of the war, Denny gave permission for a war industry photo shoot at the Radioplane plant.

 

The event would have passed without notice except for a pretty young employee who became a magnet for the photographers. Recognizing her potential, she was brought to the attention of some Hollywood types, who agreed to give her a try.

 

It was then that Norma Jean Mortensen was able to leave what she called "the hardest work she ever had to do" to begin a Hollywood career.

 

We know her today by her screen name, Marilyn Monroe.

 

Bob Hope and Bing Crosby had an arrangement to help each other by taking turns doing unpaid cameos in each other's movies. Bing had already done a cameo in Bob's last movie, so it wasn't his turn.

 

But Hope wanted Crosby to do this cameo so badly that he offered to pay him $5000, which Bing took and donated to charity. So Bing Crosby walked on the set, skipped makeup because he was already made up from another movie he was shooting on the same lot, stopped at wardrobe and put on a prison guard shirt, and did his bit in one take.

 

His total time involved was 5 minutes and, at the time, that set a Hollywood record for the most money per minute paid to an actor.

 

This was one of the three films that Bob Hope did for Paramount with the theme of 'favorites': blonde, spy and brunette.

 

He was at one of the best moments of his career when this spoof went into production and it’s one of his best.