Feb 3, 2008

DVD Review: The Bob Hope MGM Movie Legends Collection

Covering a fairly long span of the legendary comedian’s career, this recently issued Bob Hope box set offers several titles of interest to spy fans. In addition to classic comedies like The Princess and the Pirate, Alias Jesse James and I’ll Take Sweden, it includes Hope’s never-before-available-on-DVD 1942 spy spoof They Got Me Covered (which sends up Hitchcock thrillers of the time like Foreign Correspondent and Saboteur, among other things) and his final collaboration with Bing Crosby, The Road To Hong Kong (1962). Coming almost a decade after the previous Road instalment, that movie feels kind of weird, with one foot firmly in the 1960s (complete with Peter Sellers cameo and spy spoofery galore, including lots of surprising Bond connections) and the other steadfastly attached to the 1940s! Full reviews of each of those films follow below; unfortunately there are no extras to speak of in this set, not even trailers.

Also worth a look for espionage afficionados (and also making its DVD debut) is Boy, Did I Get A Wrong Number, Hope’s 1966 team-up with that luscious face of Sixties spydom, Elke Sommer. Ms. Sommer gets another chance to demonstrate her deft comic timing (as seen previously in A Shot In the Dark), as well as display her famous figure (as showcased to great advantage a year later in Deadlier Than the Male) as a European actress known best in Hollywood for her bubble bath scenes who would rather display her deft comedic timing than reveal her famous figure! Coincidence and crossed lines (courtesy of a drunk operator) insert her into the lives of Hope and his family after she storms off the set of her latest bubble bath movie, and comedy ensues, largely of the farcical door-slamming "I’m hiding a beautiful Hollywood actress in my basement but it’s not what it looks like!" variety.

It’s all pretty sexist, and despite her character’s defiance of such labels, Sommer is so much treated as "just a body" (includ-ing four bub-ble bath scenes in the course of the film!) that for a good chunk of the movie she’s exactly that, unconscious (having taken sleeping pills) and subjected to all sorts of manhandling (by Hope and the supremely annoying Phyllis Diller as his hopeless housekeeper) and physical gags. But the truth is, she’s great at the physical stuff, whether playing conscious or not, and seems to revel in it. It’s a meaty role for her, and well worth checking out for her fans, even if one has to fast-forward the bits with Diller dancing or racing her motorcycle. The movie plays very dated today (moreso than those reviewed below), but it’s funny and Elke Sommer is fantastic, as usual. There’s a moment early on when Hope, thinking he’s speaking to his wife on the phone, but really connected to Sommer, taps into the zeitgeist of the time by saying, "I’m Secret Agent 007 3/8 who tracked you down, so get your lovely little chassis down here fast or I’ll paint you gold!" Which serves as a nice segue into the real spy movies in the set...

Review: They Got Me Covered (1943)
Review: The Road To Hong Kong (1962)

1 comment:

Rogue Spy 007 said...

Just looking at those beautiful pictures of the sexy Elke Sommer made my day. I've never seen that movie, but I'll have to. I always thought she was so great in spy movies.