Bob Hope's Technicolor western spoof The Paleface was one of the comedian's biggest box-office hits. Hope plays Painless Potter, a hopelessly inept dentist who heads west to seek his fortune. Meanwhile, buxom female outlaw Calamity Jane (Jane Russell) is engaged in undercover work on behalf of the government, in the hopes of earning a pardon for her past crimes. Jane is on the lookout for notorious gun-runner Robert Armstrong. To put up an innocent front, Jane marries the befuddled Potter, then keeps the criminals at bay by convincing everyone that Potter is a rootin'-tootin' gunslinger (actually, it's Jane who's been doing all the shooting). Armstrong, who has been selling guns to the Indians, arranges for Jane to be captured by the scalp-hungry tribesmen, but Potter comes to the rescue. Somewhere along the way, Bob Hope and Jane Russell get to sing the Oscar-winning Jay Livingston/Ray Evans tune "Buttons and Bows". There are many hilarious moments in The Paleface, but screenwriter Frank Tashlin felt that director Norman Z. McLeod failed to get the full comic value out of his material. To prove his point, Tashlin directed the side-splitting sequel, Son of Paleface (1952), which once more teamed Hope and Russell.
by Hal Erickson synopsis