For the longest time, I didn't properly give Bob Hope his due as a comic legend. I saw him as some kind of old guard goofball jokester that was just trotted out on talk shows to make a quick pun or two and that's it. I just remembered his cameo bit in SPIES LIKE US for the most part and that was really it. I had little to no knowledge of his ROAD movies with Bing Crosby or his other cinematic comedic greatness. I think I read an interview with Woody Allen at some point wherein he was speaking about his huge fandom for Hope and that finally got my attention. I think Woody mentioned a couple of Hope's films that I had never heard of before like MONSIEUR BEAUCAIRE and THE GREAT LOVER how how they had informed some of his own comic persona. Soon after that, I sought out those films and though I didn't quite see what Woody saw in them, I could certainly see the stuff he was stealing from Hope in those roles. After that though, my appreciation for Bob Hope began to rise sharply as I went after and watched some of the ROAD movies and eventually came across stuff like BACHELOR IN PARADISE and ALIAS JESSE JAMES (which is still my favorite I think). There's just something about the characters that he cultivated that really amuses me. It's been done to death, but the self deprecation and cowardice that he portrays so well is really, at it's core, the roots of what many people associate with Woody Allen (especially in his 70s comedies). Bob Hope also has one of the remarkably expressive faces that resonates goofball humor all the time. I love his double takes as well - he was a master of the comic double take. BOY, DID I GET A WRONG NUMBER is by no means Hope's funniest film, but it has some moments of fun. He plays a happily married real-estate salesman whose life is thrown into a whirlwind when a loopy switchboard operator accidentally connects him to the room of a hot starlet (Elke Sommer) who has run away from Hollywood and the movie she's working on. In an odd twist of "not being able to call room service", the starlet begs Hope's character to bring some sustenance at her hotel room where she is hiding out. Of course he can't resist and brings her some grub and that leads to her staying in his cottage and so forth and so on. The highlight of the movie is a wild-haired Phyllis Diller who plays Hope's nosey housekeeper who oddly wants to help keep his marriage from breaking up over this crazy turn of events. As with any movie Bob Hope does, he has some pretty funny throwaway lines periodically. Thankfully, he also has Diller to play off of and they have a decent repartee. I've often found myself easily annoyed with her, but she's enjoyable here. The best part of the movie is the climactic chase at the end, which finds Madame Diller riding a motorcycle and throwing mustard into the faces of cops in pursuit.
Buy BOY, DID I GET A WRONG NUMBER on Blu-ray here:
THE BEAT GENERATION (1959; Charles F. Haas)
"..the world is full of moldy figs -- the squares who go to work, eat, sleep, vegetate..and while they vegetate, I swing."
This one starts out like it's going to be another HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL (even stars Mamie Van Doren), with some an angsty beatnik dude (Ray Danton) giving some girl an apathetic breakup line as she's about to depart. It quickly becomes another thing altogether though as the beatnik dude ingratiates himself into the home of of some poor married woman under the guise of him being a friend of her husband. He beats her up pretty good (and more) and afterward gets a ride from a passing cop (Steve Cochran) who unwittingly gives the psycho his address. So the cop and his partner (Jackie Coogan - aka Uncle Fester) are soon assigned to investigate the case and the whole movie spins towards being more of a police procedural with the beatnik stuff playing as more of a backdrop. There's still a decent amount of ridiculous beat-y colloquialisms and turns of phrase to be found within this one - PLUS the aforementioned Mamie Van Doren to give this one a little kick though.
Buy THE BEAT GENERATION on Blu-ray here: