Friday, September 18, 2015


In this Cold War rehash of the Greta Garbo classic NINOTCHKA, Katharine Hepburn plays a Russian pilot who is forced out of the sky when she violates American air space in Germany. The Americans hope that she's a defector, but she claims she left Russia in a fit of pique because a man was promoted over her. She's not interested in being part of any anti-Communist propaganda (she despises the superficiality of American women who are only interested "only in nail polish and false bosoms"), but the Air Force would like to change her mind, so a major (Bob Hope) is put in charge of taking Hepburn to London and softening her up so she'll be a good little defector. Of course, as he tries to convert her, she tries to convert him to socialism, and slowly, despite the presence of Hope's fiancée, they start to fall in love.

Let me repeat that: Katherine Hepburn and Bob Hope fall in love. That is the main gimmick behind this movie, and it plays out as badly as you would expect. Though both actors are professionals and seem to be trying as hard as they can, they both seem very uncomfortable, with the picture above epitomizing their on-screen chemistry. Hepburn's accent is grating (and varies occasionally) and she looks dreadful; Hope mostly acts like he's in a Road movie with Bing Crosby—when someone insults him by calling him a "dog nose," Hope replies, "Oh, you got a little Crosby blood in ya!" Apparently, Hope brought in some of his own gag writers to "polish" the dialogue, and the screenwriter, the legendary Ben Hecht, had his name taken out of the official credits. Hepburn wasn't too happy, either, and the two had a frosty relationship. It's not quite a disaster; if nothing else, I like to tell friend that I've seen a romantic comedy with Hepburn and Hope, and watch their reactions. If you're expecting a Bob Hope comedy, you’ll probably like it, but if you want a Hepburn comedy like The Philadelphia Story or Bringing Up Baby, avoid it like the plague. [TCM]

No comments: