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The Paleface (1948)

1:48 | Trailer
Calamity Jane is dispatched to find out who's smuggling rifles to the Indians, and winds up married to a hapless correspondence-school dentist as part of her cover.


Norman Z. McLeod


Edmund L. Hartmann (original screenplay) (as Edmund Hartmann), Frank Tashlin (original screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Bob Hope ... 'Painless' Peter Potter
Jane Russell ... Calamity Jane
Robert Armstrong ... Terris
Iris Adrian ... Pepper
Bobby Watson ... Toby Preston (as Robert Watson)
Jackie Searl ... Jasper Martin (as Jack Searl)
Joseph Vitale ... Indian Scout
Charles Trowbridge ... Gov. Johnson
Clem Bevans ... Hank Billings
Jeff York ... Big Joe
Stanley Andrews ... Commissioner Emerson
Wade Crosby ... Jeb
Chief Yowlachie ... Chief Yellow Feather
Iron Eyes Cody ... Chief Iron Eyes
John Maxwell ... Village gossip


Someone is selling guns to the Indians and in order to find the culprit Calamity Jane and a secret agent go undercover posing as man and wife. When the agent is killed Jane recruits a new husband -- none other than innocent dupe "Painless" Peter Potter, a totally inept dentist and confirmed coward who's main goal is to leave the barbaric west far behind. When their wagon train is attacked by the Indians it's Jane's sharpshooting that saves the day, but she gives the credit to Potter making him an instant hero to the townspeople and instant target to both the Indians and the gunrunners. Written by A.L.Beneteau <albl@inforamp.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She can shoot a gun almost as fast as BOB can run ! See more »


Comedy | Family | Western


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


"Screen Director's Playhouse" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on March 3, 1950 with Bob Hope and Jane Russell reprising their film roles. See more »


When the gunrunners arrive in the Indian village they are seen to be travelling in a covered-wagon in one shot, and on an open buckboard covered with furs in the next shot. See more »


[last lines]
'Painless' Peter Potter: What do you want, a happy ending?
See more »

Alternate Versions

Remade in 1968 as The Shakiest Gun in the West, starring Don Knotts and Barbara Rhoades. See more »


Followed by Son of Paleface (1952) See more »


Meetcha Round The Corner
Written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
Sung by Iris Adrian (dubbed by Annette Warren)
Then danced by Bob Hope and Iris Adrian
See more »

User Reviews

A Hope Romp
6 November 2011 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

The movie, as I recall, was a smash hit, along with the catchy "Buttons and Bows" musical number. It's also one of Hope's best roles. He's Painless Potter, dentist extraordinaire; just don't let him anywhere near your teeth, or anything else, for that matter.

As bumbler-in-chief of about everything, Painless muffs one funny challenge after another, as fashioned (in part) by the imaginative Frank Tashlin. There's also a couple of Bob's gag writers credited, so the one-liners fly as fast as Tashlin's sight gags (for example, the occasional comic strip blurbs cartoonist Tashlin was noted for). At the same time, the complicated plot is just a handy rack for Hope to hang his polished shtick on. And catch that final gag with Bob's breaking character with an aside to the audience that just about sums things up.

But instead of Crosby to pair up with, Bob has the luscious Jane Russell, and while she may not be as funny as Bing, I love it when Painless mistakes an Indian for her on their wedding night. (Note how the screenplay marries them early on, thereby avoiding censorship problems. Note too how her buxom measurements are downplayed, likely a concession to the expected family audiences.)

I don't know if there's a downside since it's a funnyman romp all the way. Maybe, for me, a downside is finding out from IMDb that Iron Eyes Cody, such a great Indian, is not an Indian at all, but was instead born in Italy. Oh well, it's all Hollywood make-believe anyway, so who cares since it's a darn amusing movie, Italian Indians or no.

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Release Date:

17 December 1948 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

The Paleface See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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