Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Review - Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962 - Dir. Henry Koster)



So James Stewart didn't get one of his powerhouse films in his random selection then (Vertigo, Anatomy of a Murder). I wouldn't be too happy going into the semi-final of the FA Cup of Actors with Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, especially being up against Émilie Dequenne. But that's what he's been given so we better get on with it (even though it sounds like some kind of Chevy Chase film).


Banker Roger Hobbs (James Stewart) plans on taking his wife on a lovely holiday, just the two of them (kinky devil). She has other plans and he ends up on a month long holiday with his whole family. Roger is not too pleased. He turns things around by seeing it as a chance to get his family back together and get them to see the true importance of family. Good luck with that mate.


Everything about this film screams the sixties: the supporting cast, the oh-so-polite teenage dance, and the music by Henry Mancini. Not necessarily a bad thing, but this has the feel of an American sitcom from that period where everyone claps when someone enters the room. The comedy for the most part is smile worthy at best. Apart from one moment which had me rolling about laughing (it's a shame that no-one else will).


The scene in question is when Roger goes out on a bird watching trip with his son-in-law's prospective boss, Mr Turner (in a strange interview process, the boss man spends three days with the family on holiday to get a feel for their moral fibre). When Roger begins to tire, Turner picks him up (not literally) on his walking style. He demonstrates how to walk with the knees bent, keeping the head parallel to the ground in a walking version of the economy run. Roger does this walk for a fair while, which had me chuckling away no end. (I did say that no-one else will probably find this funny due to the vastly obscure nature of the 'economy run' reference.)


One worrying aspect of the film is the casting of Lauri Peters as Roger's daughter who is in her early teens. For starters, she was in her late teens when she made this, but far worse is the plasticky quality of her skin and the fact that she has to do this strange gurning smile (all as part of the script admittedly). She ends up looking like a deranged toothless auton.


One of my favourite sequences involves Roger taking his son on a boat trip and getting lost in the fog (you know I can't resist a good mist.) It adds a much needed slice of variety in the middle of the film and although everyone in the whole universe knows that they're going to be fine, it's still enough to be engaging.


But it's got James Stewart in it so it can't be all bad. He's got the amazing super power of being able to raise any film that he's in up to at least average. He does so here, yet sadly it's not enough to knock out the lovely Émilie Dequenne, who only managed 6/10 herself with her entry
5/10
evlkeith

If you like this you could also try:
Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House, Magic Town.


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