I went into this collection with fond memories of watching the Road movies as a kid on late night TV with my mom. I remembered them as being pretty funny, but I can say that going back to these oldies is a bit different, as the times have really changed and so has my humor. While I enjoyed the bulk of films in this collection, I certainly enjoyed some more than others, preferring his mysteries or espionage films like The Ghost Breakers, The Cat and the Canary, and My Favorite Blonde, to his musicals like The Big Broadcast of 1938 and the utterly ridiculous comedy, College Swing with George Burns and Gracie Allen. The Road movies are still funny, but it's absurd comedy and it did get to be a bit much watching them back to back, so I suggest switching between movies in each collection. The exception is Road to Morocco where the film mocks itself, it's cookie-cutter format, and the expected cast of Hope, Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour. Also, be aware that these films aren't politically correct and things were quite different when these films were made. Just a caveat that some of the jokes might make social warriors cringe a bit, but you have to take it in context of the era.
You've got your standard Hope collaborators throughout the films, such as the aforementioned Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, but you've also got Martha Raye, Paulette Goddard, and Jane Russell, plus Lucille Ball in the collection's only drama, Sorrowful Jones, which has a touch of humor, but is very much a drama for these two comedic icons.
Bob Hope's particular style of comedy is well known and stems from his time in vaudeville, because he combined singing, dancing, and acting and he displays these talents throughout the films. Thanks for the Memory, Bob's famous song used as his intro throughout his long career, can first be heard in The Big Broadcast of 1938, although the context there is a divorced couple walking down memory lane. I especially enjoyed Variety Girl because it had a really sweet story to it, in addition to the cavalcade of stars present in the film.
As much as Bob is remembered for his movies, he is probably better remembered for his devotion to the US troops and for all of the performances he brought to them around the world and over the years. There is one really good documentary on Bob Hope's career and life, focusing heavily on his USO performances, and there are also five other featurettes, three of which are classic programs that were recorded and sent to troops around the world. I knew he entertained the troops, but I had no idea he had a radio show where he took requests from them, such as hearing Lana Turner joke back and forth with Bob and listening as she grills a porterhouse steak, just so the troops overseas could hear the sounds of home as presented by a blonde bombshell. It was truly heartwarming and gave me a whole new level of respect for Hope (although his philandering ways throughout his 67 year marriage took a few of those points away, I must admit).
I can't really see kids of today appreciating this set, because the comedy of yesteryear is so drastically different than what we have today, and quite frankly, some of these films are just too slow. However, I can say this - every time I watched one of these films and my husband would come in, he'd end up sitting down and watching with me and laughing his head off. I mean, seriously, this is apparently his brand of silly comedy and he laughed hard at every joke and gag, even the ones that made my eyes roll. In retrospect, I realized that the people that were going to the movies at the time these films were released were looking for an escape - from the war, from The Depression, and from everyday life. They didn't have TV and Netflix to turn on, they had to go the movies as a form of escape and they probably really needed this silly, slapstick humor to put a big, ole grin on their faces and that's just what these moves do.
If you have a Bob Hope fan in your life, or really, anyone who is from this era, they will appreciate this set as it truly is a slice of life from yesteryear. And 21 movies for around $42 is crazy cheap. Sure, a bunch of them are black and white, but regardless, this is classic comedy from a legend who knew how to become a star with his cowardly, bumbling goofball routine. Some films are better transfers than others, but none are bad. It's obviously not a complete set, as Hope made many more films, and be aware that it doesn't have all of the Road films, or even the other My Favorite films, but it's still a good collection and all in one neat little package. There's even a sing-along in one of the Road movies. Recommended. Here's a list of the films included: