Sunday, April 17, 2011

(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Bob?

Good old Dave Kehr, I love him so much. Today his column in the New York Times deals with Bob Hope's late "questionable period" as a film star in some detail, finding something good even there: "Funny they are not, but these last efforts are unexpectedly moving. Hope does his unflappably professional best to pick his way through a cultural landscape that had irreversibly shifted beneath his feet." Just what I have been saying... sort of? And McNeil has long been fascinated - perhaps unduly! - by the way in which HOW TO COMMIT MARRIAGE (one of the films under consideration) has Bob saying things like (I will paraphrase McNeil's paraphrase) "These kids today may dress funny, but when it comes to talking about peace and love, maybe they're onto something." (Bob is probably saying it right here in this very scene to his costar and Ronald Reagan's ex-wife Jane Wyman - think about it!) Or as Kehr puts it, "There’s none of the fearful, anti-hippie humor that had come to dominate his television specials; instead, he seems to be doing his best to keep up, adapting the point of view of a concerned, confused but not wholly unsympathetic parent." And here's Kehr on PARIS HOLIDAY (!): "It’s all brisk and unaccountably entertaining until the film suddenly achieves an almost religious intensity." Exclamation points all around! See also.