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Larry Haines, a mediocre vaudeville entertainer, boards a train bound for Los Angeles. Is Hollywood waiting for him with open arms? Not really as the one he signed a contract for is Percy, his roller-skating penguin partner! But, as the proverb says, the shadow of glory is better than no glory at all! Anyway, doesn't Larry meet a woman on the train? And a blonde one! And a British agent into the bargain! The delicious creature who is carrying a coded message hidden in a brooch and is being pursued by Nazi agents. She will need Larry (and Percy)'s help to elude her pursuers and to get the secret information to destination. The mission will be accomplished, although in an eventful and hilarious way... Written by
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by MCA ever since. See more »
Very funny comedy with just enough serious spy movie elements
A good spy thriller: British agent Madeleine Carroll attempts to transport a scorpion-shaped brooch that conceals microfilm holding key military information. She is chased by Nazi spies led by George Zucco and Gale Sondergaard. Two agents are killed in the first ten minutes.
Cut to Bob Hopeor rather, his penguin. Hope and penguin are Haines and Percy, a sort of vaudeville act. The penguin has just gotten the call from Hollywood; Hope would like to think that he is the real star. Paths cross when Carroll, hoping to shake the Nazis from her trail, ducks into Hope's dressing room. And the fun begins.
Needing cover and hoping to conceal her true identity, Madeleine feigns romantic interest in Bob, and plays it up good. He is surprised and mystified by her attentionand soon by attention from Zucco and gang, who want the scorpion and know he is somehow involved. The scene where spies surround and stare him down on the train's club car is classic Hope, as his nervousness starts slowly but gradually bubbles over.
The scenes between Hope and Carroll are even better she plays it fairly straight and he plays it goofy and the interplay just works like a charm. One especially funny scene in the train compartment: having pressed up close to him with a kiss and retrieved the brooch from his lapel, she stands up and moves away; not having a clue, Hope grabs her and tries to kiss her againand she slaps him indignantly. "Take your hands off me!" she snaps. Poor Bob.
The dialog is bright and funny throughout, with Hope naturally getting the best lines, including some vintage Hope gems: "I've given up kissing strange women." "What made you stop?" "Strange women."
Zucco and Sondergaard have only small roles, but they sure can play the baddies. Talk about sinister!
However, Bob and Madeleine are pretty much the whole show here. The relationship between the two leads develops nicelywe have a pretty good idea how it's going to turn out, but it grows at a careful pace, not too fast or too slow or too sudden.
Top notch and full of great laughs.
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