Where There's Life - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Where There's Life Reviews

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December 2, 2011
review coming soon ...
½ November 21, 2011
Why Let a Few Jurisdictional Errors Stand in the Way of a Good Story?

I have no idea why the man has an airport named after him nor why it's the airport that is. Not that I generally refer to it by name; it's been a whole bunch of different things over the years, and all anyone back home actually calls it is "the Burbank airport." I don't dispute that he did a lot, over the years, but none of it seems particularly airport-oriented or have much to do with the City of Burbank. Personally, that would by my qualification before I named an airport after anyone, but I know of three named after movie actors, and the only one I know had anything to do with airports, it wasn't in a positive way. What's interesting is that neither the Wikipedia pages for man or airport nor the official page of the airport itself is willing to provide me with an explanation. It's the thing I'm most curious to know about, more even than why they chose him to host the Oscars so many times, and no one will tell me.

The king of Barovia (William Edmunds) has been shot by the Mordia, a secret society. He tells his cabinet that, years before, he lived in New York, where he married and had a son. That son is now a radio announcer named Michael Joseph Valentine (Bob Hope), who is engaged to be married to Hazel O'Brien (Vera Marshe), who is herself related to about half the New York Police Department. Because the king is determined to keep his people from knowing that the wound appears mortal, his people decide that the solution is to kidnap Mike. Who is to be married that day. The officials of Barovia have him under wraps, and NYPD is after him, because Hazel's brother, Victor (William Bendix), wants Mike to marry Hazel no matter what. Oh, and let's not forget that the Mordia plans to kill him, because they are determined to wipe out the lineage completely in order to make them pay for past wrongs. Though what the point of that is, I do not know, especially given it's supposedly for banishment but it turns out some of them live in-country.

There's also a lot to do with diplomatic immunity that no one ever talks about. Half the cast ought to have it. Probably more than. But not only is it never mentioned, people are eventually hoping the NYPD will show up to arrest people in the actual Barovian consulate. I realize, of course, that asking for help from consulate security has its difficulties by that point in the story, but no one even suggests that there might be jurisdictional problems for NYPD. It's not as though they didn't have time to cover that; the movie is all of seventy-five minutes long. There is also far more chasing people around than needs done. Most of the characters in the movie are major government figures or else police, the latter of which almost certainly spend a lot of time grousing about how they can't even give parking tickets to cars with diplomatic plates. That last may be more modern than the story, but diplomatic immunity and the laws it's built on is not.

Interesting, really, that Bob Hope was cast as a character who self-identifies as an American but in important ways is not. After all, how many people realize that he was five before he set foot on US soil? He has, largely because of his work with the USO, become totally identified with the United States and with American causes, but by birth, Bob Hope was British. London-born. He first became important to the US troops during World War II, of course, which was fought by British troops first. But Hope was really best known for his tours to entertain US troops, which he kept up for many years. Actually, by the end of his days, he was a knight, which--while not quite a king--isn't bad for the son of a stonemason. He also had every award the Academy could give except for an actual Oscar and pretty much every award a civilian could get from the US government as well. And all sorts of honourary ones from the military. He was American and not-American all at once.

This came paired on the DVD with a slightly older movie, [i]Monsieur Beaucaire[/i], apparently a remake of a Rudolph Valentino flick, itself an adaptation of a Booth Tarkington novel. It, too, is the story of someone suddenly trapped inside a life which is different from any they might have previously expected. If the theme of every true Hitchcock movie is the innocent in peril, the theme of Bob Hope movies tends to be the snakrer in over his head. Whether it's battling the courts of France, Spain, or Barovia, whether it's in love with a chambermaid, a policeman's sister, or a general, the point is that Bob Hope is more clever than anyone concerned but not aware of the situation enough to get out of it. It's unusual that, in both cases, he not only gets the girl but manages to have more than one girl interested in him. Though in both cases, to a greater or lesser extent, aristocracy equals desirability, and it's certainly true that not everyone interested in the noble variant would be interested in the commoner.
½ August 10, 2005
I very much enjoy Bob Hope's brand of humor, and this is one of his better films, and for some reason it's one that is often overlooked. It also has Martha Raye in a hilarious role and great support from William Bendix. Fun and very entertaining.
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