Cast & Crew
Frederick De Cordova
Widowed oil company executive Bob Holcomb is appalled that his teenaged daughter, JoJo, plans to marry Kenny Klinger, who has just been expelled from school and spends much of his time playing the guitar. To separate them, Bob provokes a quarrel and then eagerly accepts a new assignment with his company's Stockholm office. He is relieved when JoJo becomes attracted to his handsome Swedish assistant, Erik Carlson. Meanwhile, Bob becomes romantically involved with interior designer Karin Grandstedt. Erik convinces JoJo that a "trial honeymoon" is a proper Swedish custom, and Bob in desperation sends to California for Kenny. Rebuffed in his attempt at reconciliation, Kenny finds consolation with Marti, supposedly a cousin of Erik's but actually his ex--girl friend. Pretending a business trip, Bob and Karin visit a mountain resort for a trial honeymoon of their own, and they meet the two young couples at the same hotel. Though Bob tries frantically to save his daughter from succumbing to Erik's advances, it is Kenny, warned of Erik's philandering by Marti, who saves JoJo's honor by knocking out Erik with his guitar. On their homeward-bound voyage, Bob and Karin and Kenny and JoJo have a double wedding with the ship's captain officiating.
Frederick De Cordova
Fay De Witt
Siv Marta åberg
Daniel L. Fapp
Frank [a.] Tuttle
I'll Take Sweden
During the 1920s, Hope's stint in vaudeville established his comic persona, brought out his talent as an emcee, and honed his sense of timing for one-liners and verbal banter, all of which prepared him for any avenue of show business. From Broadway musicals to radio to film to television, Hope successfully adapted his comedy from one entertainment arena to another. On radio and television and in live USO shows for servicemen, Hope excelled at breezy monologues, one-liners, and ad libs that exploited his verbal dexterity. His quips were often corny or stale, but his delivery was so light and smooth that the lines were funny regardless. Hope's movies, which peaked creatively with the Road series with Bing Crosby, featured his persona as the cowardly smart-mouth, likable con man, comic dupe, or ineffective pretender who could crack wise with exquisite timing. He could banter with his costar with astonishing rapidity, or slow the momentum down with a calculated pause or double take. While Hope's talent was primarily verbal, he could milk the effect of a ridiculous costume, spryly handle a prop, take a decent pratfall, and react with just the right expression to his costars' dialogue or actions. Even the way he strolled into a scene could be funny, especially in his early films. Like his fellow actors who had also been vaudevillians or burlesque comics-Jack Benny, George Burns, Milton Berle-he knew the value of making an entrance.
Released in 1965, just after Hope's 62nd birthday, I'll Take Sweden represents the tail end of his film career, though he continued to make television specials, host the Academy Awards, and tour army bases for over two decades. Hope's films from the 1960s, which lack the magic and energy of the Road series, are universally panned by critics and film historians. Yet, they are still enjoyable to the comic's fans while serving as interesting artifacts of a remarkable social era.
In I'll Take Sweden, Hope stars as Bob Holcomb, a widower raising his teenage daughter in sunny Southern California. Tuesday Weld costars as JoJo Holcomb, a typical teen who likes to dance, listen to rock 'n' roll, and spend her days at the beach. When JoJo becomes engaged to beach bum Kenny Klinger, played by a hyperkinetic Frankie Avalon, Bob accepts a new position with his company in Sweden to keep JoJo and Kenny apart. In Sweden, JoJo matures into a sophisticate as she falls under the spell of Erik Carlson, a smooth-talking, well-dressed ladies man who uses charm, culture, and Sweden's more permissive view of sex to seduce young girls. Bob is aghast when JoJo and Erik consider going on a "pre-honeymoon" at a nearby resort without benefit of marriage. He quickly realizes that while Kenny may be a guitar-playing dropout adverse to work, he at least wants to marry JoJo before embarking on a honeymoon. Bob sends for Kenny in the hopes of distracting JoJo from Erik.
In the meantime, Bob woos interior designer Karin Granstedt, played by Dina Merrill. While pursuing Karin, he plans to take full advantage of Sweden's modern perspective on sex and relationships, not caring that his position is hypocritical when compared to his attitude toward JoJo and Erik. When JoJo discovers that her father has slipped off for a pre-honeymoon of his own, she agrees to Erik's proposition. Both couples end up at the same hotel, along with Kenny and his Swedish date, for a hectic sequence reminiscent of a French bedroom farce.
Because Hope is playing a parent in I'll Take Sweden, his character is more reserved and conservative than usual, and he also has less screen time. Yet, Bob Holcomb clearly fits into Hope's comic persona. Though not exactly a con man, Holcomb does maneuver his daughter away from Kenny, and he almost fools her into thinking he's away on business when he's really enjoying his illicit weekend with Karin. And, while Holcomb is not a comic dupe, JoJo does make a fool of him for comic effect by showing up at his hotel for her liaison with Erik. Most familiar to Hope's fans is the way in which Bob Holcomb is quick with the wise quip and comic aside. In the beginning, when Kenny shows an exasperated Bob his tiny trailer with the low ceiling, where he and JoJo plan to live, Bob grumbles, "Who designed this thing? Toulouse-Lautrec," in Hope's signature question-and-response style.
The film also includes the type of visual humor typically found in a Hope vehicle. In a dream sequence, Holcomb envisions JoJo as an impoverished, rag-wearing mother scrubbing the laundry on a washboard while lazy Kenny peters around the tiny trailer and a half-dozen dirty kids look on. Tinny piano music accompanies the sequence, which is artificially sped up, making the bit look like a silent film projected at sound speed. Elsewhere in the film, Hope - as usual- is the victim of many of the physical gags as when he lies down on Kenny's sofa bed, which quickly folds up, trapping dear old Dad inside.
I'll Take Sweden differs slightly from Bob Hope's usual film fare because of the topical nature of the content, particularly the focus on premarital sex. By the early 1960s, the Production Code had lost its control over onscreen morality just as the social mores of the era were changing as the result of the birth control pill and other influences. Youth-oriented movies from the first half of the decade were obsessed with the moral quandary of premarital sex. From Where the Boys Are (1960) to Palm Springs Weekend (1963), female characters debated on whether to give in to the boys, or hang onto being a good girl. I'll Take Sweden folds this issue neatly into the comic plotline via JoJo and Erik while pointing out the hypocrisy of a bed-hopping older generation too quick to condemn the changing morality (Bob and Karin). The subtext suggests that changing mores or not, children still model their behavior after their parents.
In hindsight, several critics who reviewed the DVD release of I'll Take Sweden referred to the story as reflective of the generation gap of the 1960s, but the movie's 1965 release date precedes the widespread adoption of that term by the mainstream public. There is no generational clash in I'll Take Sweden - only the exasperation of dealing with teenagers in a sexually active society and a parent's endurance of teen culture, which older generations generally find tasteless and alien. The latter theme has been part of youth-oriented movies since the rock 'n' roll musicals of the 1950s. In I'll Take Sweden, this idea is illustrated in the opening sequence when Bob Holcomb arrives home to find a houseful of teenagers dancing to some Hollywood executive's version of rock 'n' roll. Bob is bewildered as he watches the teens dance to a manic version of the Watusi in a spoof of the dance crazes that were part of the early 1960s. Because the viewer understands the scene through an adult's point of view, the exaggeration in the teens' music, dancing, and slang make them seem ridiculous. The exaggeration is magnified when Frankie Avalon as Kenny launches into a dismal song called "Would You Like My Last Name?" The lyrics are intentionally repetitive and vapid, and Avalon overworks the syncopation of the words in a comic imitation of Elvis Presley's original rockabilly style. While singing and banging on a guitar, he continuously shakes all over, echoing but not copying Presley's 1950s performing style. Avalon steals this send-up of contemporary music and dance crazes, which is the only scene of sustained comic energy in the entire film.
Hope prided himself on reaching out to all audiences. Whether he achieved that goal is debatable, but the casting of Avalon and Weld in this film represent Hope's desire to entertain all ages, much like his television specials included young performers such as Ann-Margret. Avalon had costarred with Annette Funicello in five Beach Party movies by the time I'll Take Sweden hit the big screen. Beach Blanket Bingo, which had been released in April 1965, was still in the theaters when I'll Take Sweden debuted. His popularity as a teen idol had probably peaked by this time, but he was still an icon of youth culture. At this time, Tuesday Weld specialized in portraying wayward teenagers or sex kittens, and in this film, her character references that image without entirely embracing it. Hope steps back in this film to let Avalon, Weld, and Jeremy Slate, who plays Erik Carlson, dominate several scenes in a bid to appeal to young viewers.
A weak screenplay by long-time Hope writers Nat Perrin, Bob Fisher, and Arthur Marx and lackluster direction by television veteran Frederick De Cordova prevent I'll Take Sweden from being a truly funny comedy. Because the storyline involves premarital sex, the potential existed for the dialogue to crackle with double meaning along the lines of French farces or bedroom comedies, but the writers apparently lacked the gift for sexual banter and double entendres. Instead, the forgettable dialogue stumbles along until Hope offers his trademark one-liners, which are fewer and farther between in this film. Likewise, the film's conclusion at the hotel, where Bob Holcomb madly dashes in and out of every room on his floor looking for JoJo, is a strong set-up for running gags or physical humor that might tease the viewer with a touch of the risqué. Instead, the methodically paced sequence lacks the energy or imagery to live up to its potential.
Bob Hope starred in five more comedies after I'll Take Sweden, ending his feature film career in 1972. By that time, Hollywood was actively recruiting a new generation of directors, stars, and screenwriters who embraced the counterculture and used popular film as a medium of personal expression and social change. It was a generation that the comedy of Bob Hope did not reach.
Producer: Alex Gottlieb, Edward Small
Director: Frederick De Cordova
Screenplay: Nat Perrin, Bob Fisher, and Arthur Marx
Cinematography: Daniel L. Fapp
Editor: Grant Whytock
Art Director: Robert Peterson
Music: Jimmie Haskell, 'By' Dunham
Cast: Bob Holcomb (Bob Hope), JoJo Holcomb (Tuesday Weld), Kenny Klinger (Frankie Avalon), Karin Granstedt (Dina Merrill), Erik Carlson (Jeremy Slate), Marti (Rosemarie Frankland), Olaf (John Qualen), Spinster (Maudie Prickett), Electra (Beverly Hills).
C-97m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning.
by Susan Doll
I'll Take Sweden
THE ROAD TO HONG KONG, THE FACTS OF LIFE and Other Comedies Are Featured in Bob Hope: MGM Movie Legends Collection
This is plainly visible in the sampling of his films on the DVD set Bob Hope: MGM Movie Legends Collection. Ranging over three decades, the films show Hope in full Hope mode whether he's rushing merrily through some trifling story or trying to heat up a script that somebody should have rethought. His film career started with several shorts in the mid-30s before moving to a few supporting spots and finally graduating to lead roles in 1938's Give Me a Sailor. (He gained a theme song in that February's The Big Broadcast of 1938 and then used it for a film title before the year was out: "Thanks for the Memory".) In 1940 he was teamed with Bing Crosby in Road to Singapore and Hope's place on the silver screen was assured. He consistently found time for a string of starring roles until 1972 and then settled into cameo appearances after that.
The earliest film here, 1943's They Got Me Covered, is also one of the best. Hope plays a hapless reporter in wartime Washington DC who blunders into a spy ring, dragging girlfriend Dorothy Lamour along with him. The film looks like it was shot quickly and has a charming disregard for reality: the Nazi spy base is an improbably large fashion salon and their safe house has--for no apparent reason--Donald Meek who believes he's protecting President Lincoln from the Confederates. But reality hardly matters. Hope is in fine form tossing off sharp gags and standing up to the spies when his first impulse is to flee in panic. Lamour matches him move for move and provides a solid foil for Hope's antics, not just a straight person to play against but a full and smarter partner.
Two more efforts toss Hope into genre films. The Princess and the Pirate (1944) imagines him as one of the world's worst touring actors accidentally captured by pirates and eventually rescuing disguised princess Virginia Mayo. In Alias Jesse James (1959), Hope is a New York insurance agent who unknowingly takes out a life policy on Jesse James and then has to head out West to be sure nothing happens to his client. Among the sagebrush, he gets tangled up with saloon girl Rhonda Fleming. You see the pattern of pairing him against beautiful leading ladies though neither Mayo nor Fleming are up to Lamour's standard, which could be due to the scripts. Both films are lively though Princess is clearly the funnier and more inventive of the two. Western fans will definitely want to see an inspired sequence at the end of Alias Jesse James that can't be revealed here without ruining the gag.
Moving into the 60s, studios seemed to have less idea of what to do with Hope. His comic approach never completely went out of style, just changed forms. Still, it was easy to see Hope as outdated when surrounded by the dissolving studio system, TV's challenges and the new breed of comics (Lenny Bruce, Nichols & May, Bob Newhart). Hope no longer fit into a clear position, something the later films in the set show. Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! (1966) imagines Hope as a bland, devoted family man who gets tangled up with Elke Sommer as a European sex kitten running away from the set of her latest film. Probably envisioned as a classic farce, this is really the type of film whose story would fall completely apart if Hope only revealed to his wife that Sommer was hiding in their cabin. Like many films of the period, it plays at being "naughty" or "free spirited" but is utterly conventional (even Hope's gags are more restrained). At least Phyllis Diller is on hand as an assertive housemaid to spark up the proceedings.
The same faux naughtiness can be seen in 1965's I'll Take Sweden where single father Hope packs teenaged daughter Tuesday Weld off to Sweden to keep her out of the hands of her layabout, quasi-beatnik boyfriend. It's an example of how far out of touch the film is that the layabout boyfriend is Frankie Avalon. There are a few halfhearted moves toward unmarried hankypanky and several jokes at the openness of Swedish romantic life as Sweden drifts among the same realm of supposedly free-spirted farce as Wrong Number. In the end nothing out of the ordinary happens unless you count Avalon's stop-the-story and never-campy-enough songs. The film does close with a classic door-slamming, in-and-out of room sequence but overall is pretty dreary despite the best efforts of Hope and Weld (but almost nobody else).
One highlight of these later years is the seventh and final "Road" film, Road to Hong Kong from 1962. Dorothy Lamour, co-star of the previous films, was replaced by Joan Collins, probably because Collins was two decades younger but also due to a British production company wanting to showcase their own talent. As it turns out, Collins didn't showcase impressively and Lamour's brief cameo appearance proves she was smarter, funnier and simply more attractive. Nevertheless, while Hong Kong is the weakest in the series (the spies and space travel plot was barely enough for a TV skit and has dated badly) it shows why Hope and Crosby were such a good team and doesn't completely deserve its reputation as a stumbling end to the series. The duo's gags come across as actual dialogue rather than bits of something the writers concocted and both create a feeling of relaxed humor that many more aggressive comics would do well to emulate (if they can). Peter Sellers appears as an Indian doctor in a small segment that's a mini-masterpiece of double-talk. The film does have a couple of misguided sequences (one involving a feeding maching in the space capsule is particularly humiliating) and some comments about Asia are a bit dubious today but overall Hope and Crosby still displayed enough charm that you almost wish they could have done one more film.
The anomaly here is 1960's The Facts of Life, Hope's attempt at a more-or-less straight dramatic role. There are still jokes-Hope wasn't about to leap into a void-but this time they come from his character and even bring out criticism from others. Most notably that's Lucille Ball as a friend's wife who can't stand the humorous commentary and good-fellow cheerfulness in a critique, however mild, of Hope's usual persona. During a group vacation to Mexico where most of the group gets waylaid, Hope and Ball follow the Hollywood rule that opposites attract and start an affair. Played mostly straight, The Facts of Life is fairly reliable melodrama with a smear of comedy (one sequence where Hope gets lost among identical motels is clever) but never quite pulls together. The big problem is that Hope either didn't have this type of acting in him or needed more firm guidance from the director. Ball on the other hand is completely plausible as a lonely wife, almost single-handedly keeping the film from feeling by-the-book. Viewed today it's odd to think this gathered five Oscar® nominations, winning one for best black-and-white costume design.
Bob Hope: MGM Movie Legends Collection has each film on a separate disc in a slim clase. There are no extras beyond trailers though a couple of the later films have a choice of full-screen or letterboxed (but none are fully widescreen). The transfers are solid though there are a few moments in The Princess and the Pirate where it appears as if the Technicolor strips were briefly out of registration. Nothing major and a lot of viewers won't even notice. The set On The Road With Bob Hope And Bing Crosby which collects the first four "Road" films is still the best place to see Hope in action but this is a good if uneven follow-up.
For more information about Bob Hope: MGM Movie Legends Collection, visit MGM. To order Bob Hope: The MGM Movie Legends Collection, go to TCM Shopping.
by Lang Thompson
THE ROAD TO HONG KONG, THE FACTS OF LIFE and Other Comedies Are Featured in Bob Hope: MGM Movie Legends Collection
Maybe we had better put the car in our luggage.- Holcomb
Released in United States 1965
Released in United States 1965