Coming to PBS’s American Masters in an unabridged director’s cut tomorrow, Friday, December 29:

John Scheinfeld

American Masters (Nov 2017, abridged version)

An in-depth look at the life and eight-decade career of the comedian and performer.

Popular across a broad spectrum of entertainment, from his early years in vaudeville through popular music, radio, stage, and screen, Bob Hope happily lived most of his 100 years in the public spotlight before his death in 2003. Once a cutting edge comic talent, he was viewed as old-fashioned by the 1970s, and fell out of favor. Scheinfeld’s affectionate portrait reminds audiences of his prodigious comic abilities and showmanship, drawing from Hope’s personal archives as well as a wealth of performance footage and interviews with family members and celebrity friends and fans like Billy Crystal, Conan O’Brien, and Margaret Cho. The well-constructed and comprehensive film details Hope’s rise to stardom, buoyed by his popular song “Thanks for the Memories,” and his lasting contributions to comedy, including his development of the topical monologue and conversational humor that influenced generations of stand-ups. In addition, Scheinfeld explores Hope’s charity work and long association with the USO, providing entertainment to military audiences for decades – and, in the case of his appearances during the Vietnam War, painting him as a hawk politically, further underlining that he was out of touch with younger audiences. Still, as demonstrated in the ample examples here, there’s no denying Hope’s talent.

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