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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I'LL TAKE SWEDEN -- DVD Review by Porfle

In the 60s, middle-aged comics like Bob Hope made what I like to refer to as "old fogey" comedies in which they and their same-generation viewers could commiserate about the wacky state of "these kids today." 

The 1965 "so bad it's good" romp I'LL TAKE SWEDEN (Olive Films, Blu-ray and DVD) is a prime example of Bob not quite getting what was going on with the youngsters right after Beatlemania, still seeing them in a wacky 50s rock-and-roll sort of way--only more freaky and frenetic what with the twistin' and the fruggin' and whatnot. 

Nat Perrin, who wrote for guys like the Marx Brothers and Eddie Cantor back in the day (DUCK SOUP, KID MILLIONS), and Groucho's own son Arthur, who would later give us the quintessential "old fogey" comedy THE IMPOSSIBLE YEARS, pack the script with tired one-liners for Bob to throw away left and right without much enthusiasm or comic inspiration.  (Don't get me wrong, though--I still love that Bob.)

One of the funniest things about the movie, in fact, is seeing Hope and company trying to create a hybrid between the old-fashioned screwball comedy and the modern "beach party" farce without ever really understanding where to go with it or how to make it seem in any way relevant to either generation except by adding a part naughty, part quaintly-puritanical sexual element. 

Hope plays Bob Holcomb, a widowed oil company executive who comes home from a business trip to find that his daughter JoJo (Tuesday Weld in full blonde-babe mode) is on the verge of marrying a rock-and-roll-crooning party boy named Kenny Klinger (Frankie Avalon).

In order to separate them, Bob accepts an extended assignment in Sweden, but then JoJo falls for a Swedish lothario (Jeremy Slate as "Erik") who only wants to have you-know-what with her.  With Kenny suddenly looking good in comparison, Bob invites him to Sweden for a series of what we movie watchers like to call "comic complications."

When Bob and his new Swedish flame Karin (Dina Merrill) end up in the same scenic hotel where JoJo and Erik are debating the pros and cons of premarital sex (he's pro, she's con) and Frankie Avalon is running around being Frankie Avalon, we get one of those situations where everyone just misses bumping into each other and the chaste young girl comes THIS close to throwing away her virginity to a (gasp) sex maniac!

The chintzy technical aspects of I'LL TAKE SWEDEN add to its off-kilter appeal--for me, anyway--with its TV sitcom-level production values and sets, lots of cheesy rear projection, and a "Sweden" that exists only on soundstages and backlots with ample stock footage (much in the way "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." did all of his globetrotting without ever leaving the studio.) Longtime "Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" producer Fred De Cordova directs in staid fashion.

Dina Merrill joins the cast once Bob and Tuesday arrive in Sweden, with her "Karin" character going from interior decorator to Bob's love interest faster than he can toss a bad one-liner at her.  Seeing them make out is one of the freakiest things about the whole picture.

Familiar faces that pop up along the way include John Qualen, Walter Sande, Maudie Prickett, and lovely burlesque dancer Beverly Hills.  Jeremy Slate, who was perfectly fine in Westerns such as TRUE GRIT and THE SONS OF KATIE ELDER, displays little comic skill and a really bad Swedish accent in his thankless role as Erik.  Dina has little to do besides grin constantly and giggle at Bob's jokes to make up for his not having a laugh track. 

Tuesday is winsome as always, while Frankie gets to do his beach bum character without the beach (although there is a lake and some bikinis at one point) and with a kookier and somewhat more obnoxious attitude.  In fact, the film is at its most enjoyable when he's on the screen doing his own giddy brand of slapstick or belting out one of the rock-song parodies that have been written for him. 

The DVD from Olive Films is in 1.85:1 widescreen with mono sound.   Subtitles are in English.  A trailer is the sole extra.

I'LL TAKE SWEDEN is the sort of movie I used to watch on TV as a kid and think of it as a "grown-up" comedy.  Now that I've experienced what was then known as "the generation gap" from both sides, I still can't relate to this movie and wonder who the heck it was aimed at.  But that doesn't matter since it has become such a wonderfully oddball and delightfully dated artifact of its time, and half the fun of watching it is just trying to figure the damn thing out. 

Buy it at

Release date: June 21, 2016


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