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The French Surete and private eye Higgins are after a killer who uses innocent young Americans in a crooked gambling racket, and who sets sail on an ocean liner that also carries inept scoutmaster Freddie Hunter and his troop of boys. Freddie, who's been a "boy scout" too long, has designs on gorgeous Duchess Alexandria. The boys, far better organized than Freddie, are determined to save him from himself. But who will save Freddie from being the killer's next victim?Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Bob Hope is once again somebody's patsy in The Great Lover. Though this time it almost proves fatal to him in the case of murderous Roland Young. Young's a con artist and card sharp whose modus operandi is to take in two people, a rich mark and a naive doofus and get them into a poker game. Young makes sure the doofus wins in the end, but then they play a bit of two handed poker where Young takes the winnings. And if they object as George Reeves does in the initial scene, Young strangles them and takes the money anyway.
The mark in this case is Roland Culver who seems to be carrying over his part from The Emperor Waltz, a titled noble who in this case is in a state of genteel poverty. He's got two assets, a valuable necklace and his daughter Rhonda Fleming. Young covets the former and Hope's attracted to the latter.
To get Culver into the game, Young introduces Hope as a millionaire from Ohio. What Hope is actually doing is babysitting a group of Boy Foresters on a trip to Europe for an international gathering. Some of the best comedy in the film comes from Hope trying none to successfully to live up to their clean living creed.
In that vein young Richard Lyon proves to be one gigantic pill to be saddled with. He's the head of the Boy Foresters and the nephew of Hope's employer in Zanesville, Ohio. Lyon is the adopted son of Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels and does a very good job of playing straight for some of Hope's best lines. The rest of the Boy Foresters fall in line like good little fascists, except for Gary Gray who likes Hope.
Instead of Bing Crosby making an unbilled appearance, Hope is blessed with that other legendary radio comedian Jack Benny who brings his miser act on board. But maybe it wasn't Benny as Hope remarks, no way he'd be traveling first class on the ship.
The Great Lover has a lot of good scenes and while it's not at the top tier of films for Bob Hope it's at the top of his second tier of film comedies. Definitely for fans of the man who in fact was raised in Ohio.
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