I’LL TAKE SWEDEN—-you’ll take North Korea after sitting through this pathetic 1965 comedy. Bob Hope’s movies took a nosedive in the 60s, with failures of junk like this eventually driving his sputtering golf cart of lazy scripts, lamely directed and performed, out of feature fodder fairway, right-hooking into the sandtrap of lucrative TV gigs, glibly hosting obligatory specials or strolling on talk shows as a guest. Honed skill became T-boned shill.
‘Bob Holcomb’ (Hope), is an oil company exec (somehow fitting) who grabs a posting in Sweden in order to drag his daughter ‘Jojo’ (Tuesday Weld) away from marrying ‘zany’ free-spirit ‘Kenny Klinger’ (Frankie Avalon). But, hold your moral outrage over the Watusi and the Frug, Bob, ain’t Sweden where them fun-accented furriners practice that Commie “Free Love” stuff? Faster than you can say “Latest troop increase to Vietnam” Jojo falls for Nordic lothario ‘Erik Carlson’ (Jeremy Slate), who employs ‘culture’—art galleries, Byron and the opera—to log Jojo out of the American virgin wilderness into the sex sauna of Scandinavia. Widower (thank God for script surprises) Bob goes toupee-over-smirk for ‘Karen Granstedt’ (Dina Merrill), a divorced interior designer (see if you can open that friggin’ futon without breaking your wrist). When Bob sees Erik’s game, he summons all-American Kenny to fly over and break a guitar on Erik’s blond noggin.
Flow-chart directed by Frederick de Cordova on sets that scream Studio Fakes, horribly written by Nat Perrin and Arthur Marx (Groucho’s son), with gags so feeble they’d draw yawns from Calvin Coolidge, its gross of $3,700,000 tanked at 70th place for the year. Frankie (extra aggressive here) puts suicidal energy into several gawd-awful songs, worse than the wankers he was saddled with in the Beach Party flicks, five of which he figured in during ’65. All of those silly items had a more accurate representation of “youth” than the hootenanny shenanigans outed in this dopus opus.
Jeremy Slate was talented (and a very interesting guy) but this wasn’t his finest hour. Pretend Normal Person slummer Dina Merrill (E.F.Hutton/Post heiress was the World’s Richest Actress) requires acquired taste. Tuesday Weld—what the heck was she doing here?—is actually watchable, but knowing the by-then-way-past-innocent adventures of Tuesday at 20, seeing her in this goop, pretending to be scandalized by premarital sex, is the biggest joke in the movie.
With Rosemarie Frankland (Miss World 1961, Hope’s mistress for two decades–gee, Bing, how’d she land the part?), Walter Sande, Roy Roberts, Frank Wilcox, John Qualen, Roger Torrey, Peter Leeds, Beverly Powers/Hills. 97 minutes that likely helped bring on LSD and semi-sanity to part of the population beginning to see stars past Hope.
* Thanks for the Memories (well, some of them)—-co-scripter Arthur Marx later wrote “The Secret Life of Bob Hope”, a decidedly unflattering biography. Always provocative Tuesday Weld’s one-off in this lame mainstream drivel is odd, considering she’d been in viable projects for years. She balanced ’65 with The Cincinnati Kid, and went on to subversively funny 60s comedies Lord Love A Duck and Pretty Poison, plus the later fave satire Serial, as well as much fine dramatic work. Renaissance man Jeremy Slate,1926-2006 (I met him when I was six!) nailed good parts in The Sons Of Katie Elder, The Devil’s Brigade and True Grit. Energetic to this day, Avalon, then 24, kept at it, though his movie career peaked in ’65. Welsh co-starlet Rosemarie Frankland was 21 at the time. Even with Hope’s “assistance”, she later ended up one of those tragic show biz-related casualties, dying from a drug & alcohol overdose brought on by depression.