The final big screen pairing of Bob Hope and Lucille Ball, two indomitable performers and towering icons, is not worthy of rafter-shaking comedic talents. It plays not dissimilarly to an episode of I Love Lucy where she writes a questionably autobiographical novel and Ricky disapproves, only completely lacking in laughs and charms.
The premise is ripe for an Adam’s Rib style battle of the sexes, but no one’s interested in dynamic sparks or likable characters. Bob Hope is a self-important theater critic who’s quick to tarnish a production and takes glee with getting them closed, only to find his wife has taking up to writing a play. He thinks she might be a hack, she might be having an affair with her younger director (Rip Torn, looking hunky and too dangerous for this toothless comedy), and, oh, who cares. It starts middling but passable and quickly dissolves from there.
Not even appearances from reliable supporting players like Jessie Royce Landis and Jim Backus can save this thing. Part of the problem is that no matter how valiantly Hope tries to make his character human or saw off some of the edges, he’s an irredeemable bastard from start to finish, cruel to Ball, and possessing questionable journalistic standards when we watch leave one play early that he’s reviewing and showing up stinking drunk to the second. This tanks much of the drama, and the sloppily sentimental ending doesn’t add any favors. At least there’s a few good jokes sparsely thrown in to keep our interest during the sagging pace (a verbal cat fight between Marilyn Maxwell and Landis is particularly funny for the politeness of their sparring). Oh well, at least we’ll always have Ball and Hope’s funny skits from their numerous television specials together.