Beau James (1957)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Docudrama  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - G
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Review by Craig Butler

Bob Hope is given a rare dramatic role in Beau James, playing a character that is not just Bob Hope with another name. Hope is not totally successful in his portrayal, and he's not ideal casting as the legendary Jimmy Walker, but it's interesting to see the famed comedian playing against type -- and to see how he can't quite make the leap and totally give up his Hope persona. Of course, the role has been re-tailored to fit Hope a bit more, which wreaks a little havoc with the facts and, not so coincidentally, dulls the dramatic impact of the film. This Walker is not the sly, corrupt politician of legend, one whose personality was so winning that the public forgave him many of his sins. This Walker is more of a dope and a dupe -- more, in other words, like the Hope character audiences know and love. Still, even with these changes, Beau James remains a mostly entertaining and quite diverting little piece of entertainment. It's not very valuable as biography, but it makes for a very nice way to pass a couple of hours -- especially when the contributions of supporting players Paul Douglas, Alexis Smith, and Vera Miles are added in.