“Cancel My Reservation” (1972)
Bob Hope’s last starring film role is so wince inducing, audience members may be in danger of developing permanent facial tics. This would-be murder mystery, based on a novel by Louis L’Amour, but here intended for laughs, imagines stars Hope and Eva Marie Saint as a sort of modern day Nick and Nora Charles, but without any visible effort to replicate the chemistry, sophistication, wit or actual sense of mystery of the “Thin Man” series.
Hope plays a 42 year old (now, that’s funny) television talk show host Dan Bartlett who, after an on-air tiff with his co-host/spouse Sheila, is medically advised to take a solo vacation to their house in Arizona, where he discovers the dead body of a young Indian woman and even though the bodies begin to pile up, there never seems to be a particular immediacy on the part of the bumbling police (Keenan Wynn and Doodles Weaver doing their best to elicit snickers with material that’s dead on arrival), thus allowing for Dan and his newly arrived wife to play amateur sleuths. However, it might have occurred to someone during the shoot that a mystery comedy should, at a minimum, contain a fair amount of laughs and a trace of intrigue, as when neither objective is reached, the results must be professionally dispiriting; as evidenced by the only notable killing in the film: the protracted 99 minute death rattle which signifies the end of the star’s career in the movies.
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