Bachelor in Paradise is a comedy about sex in the way that only the early 60s could create. They were bold enough to suggest that people have sex, but this was still very much a film made by adult children. How so? Well, Bob Hope plays a famous author going undercover in a community of affluent married couples. This invasion is meant to find out if he can sex someone up in such an arena.
Bob Hope is a comedian who dabbled outside of his comfort realm on super rare occasions. But even when he did that as in Bachelor in Paradise, the man quickly retreated back to the realm of warm comedy. Having watched this film four times now, I’m still stunned by how a bold 1961 film like this quickly retreats to normalcy. I wasn’t expecting radical diversions for a 1961 MGM film, it’s just that last act is a neck snap.
Lana Turner does her best in a role that could’ve been played by 20 other actresses. All she has to do is brush up against Hope and fake disinterest until she loves him. What’s crazy about Bachelor in Paradise is how it could play as a straight drama with very little tampering. But, that complicates things even further. It’s not funny enough to be a Hope comedy and it pulls back from being serious enough as a drama.
Lana Turner in movies outside of her peak years is fascinating to watch. At this point in her career, she was past the Homicide Scandal and was riding high off of Imitation of Life. Yet, she didn’t still have that initial pull of her early career. She was aging out of what MGM wanted her to do and the second time with Leo the Lion wasn’t going as smooth. It’s pretty crazy, but it is what it is.
For those readers that like hidden classic gems like Bachelor in Paradise, I’d recommend it to study the film. As a straight-up romantic comedy, it didn’t work in 1961 and it doesn’t work in 2021. It’s just that you still want to understand what went wrong. If that sounds interesting to you, then I recommend it picking up Bachelor in Paradise.
Warner Archive continues to keep selecting the best pieces out of the Archive every month. Honestly, I appreciate any studio that doesn’t go for the obvious big hitters and carefully crafts month long dives into the underseen and unappreciated. How many other outlets are dropping Bob Hope deep cuts in 2021? The answer is none, because they are all cowards unlike Warner Archive. Support classic titles today!