Earnest students of new directions in comedy films have long since come to expect only pre-tested, well-worn situations in Bob Hope pictures. Yet "Monsieur Beaucaire," though moving through the old familiar paces with the thoroughly-shredded plot of the Tarkington satire as a vague backdrop, manages, like most of its siblings, to be pretty funny. This is due, as usual, to Hope's exertions--here as a craven barber trying to fill a French Duke's shoes as swordsman, lover, and bridegroom.
Between the idea and the reality, of course, falls a large shadow--one of the many that Hope shies away from throughout. Most of the fun derives from his attempts to extricate himself from tight spots with cracks like, "I gotta go now--just remembered I left my horse outside double-parked." In addition, Paramount manages to overwhelm Hope with Joan Caulfield, Marjorie Reynolds, a Mme. Pompadour whose personality is on view only briefly, and a Hollywood-version Spanish Court filled with blondes.
"Gallant Journey," the second feature, is a tribute to the pioneer of glider flight that makes him seem much too slogging and dreary a person to have envisioned flight, or to have enchanted Janet Blair so consistently.