Monsieur Beaucaire, Booth Tarkington's novel about an 18th-century French barber who poses as a swashbuckling aristocrat, was the surprising source for this Grade-A Bob Hope comedy. While in the original novel the tonsorial hero pretended to be someone he wasn't by choice, in this 1946 film Hope is coerced into posturing as a nobleman on the threat of death. It's "out of the frying pan" time here, since Hope will be a target for execution the moment he weds a Spanish princess in place of genuine noble Patric Knowles. Bob's actions will prevent a war between Spain and France, but it's likely he won't be around to celebrate the Peace. Hiding his cowardice by cracking wise at every opportunity, Hope manages to save both the day and himself; he even rescues Joseph Schildkraut, the film's nominal villain, from the guillotine. The female contingent is represented by Joan Caulfield as Bob's covetous girl friend, Marjorie Reynolds as a princess, and Hillary Brooke as a haughty schemer (who is given her just desserts in an early slapstick set-piece). Woody Allen has long expressed his affection for Monsieur Beaucaire, an affection made doubly obvious in "homage" fashion by Allen's 1975 costume comedy Love and Death.
by Hal Erickson synopsis