Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962)

“Jimmy takes a vacation … You have all the fun!” In this hilarious if somewhat dated comedy directed by Henry Koster (Harvey), Midwest banker Roger Hobbs (James Stewart) unwittingly takes his entire extended family on the summer vacation from hell—in this case a decrepit beach cottage near San Francisco. As Hobbs, Stewart brings to the role just the right mixture of haplessness combined with an unabashed cynicism about everything and everybody (he even narrates the action occasionally throughout the movie). For example, when Hobbs first arrives at the dilapidated beach house (which looks like the Munsters’ summer home), he remarks, “If this house was good enough for Edgar Allan Poe, it’s good enough for us.” Maureen O’Hara is perfectly cast as Hobbs’ wife “Peggy.” Highlights include Hobbs’ never-ending battle with the water pump, Hobbs trying to explain War and Peace to the rather vacant bikini-clad blonde neighbor “Marika” (Valerie Varda), Hobbs’ bratty grandkid who hates him and calls him “Boompah,” Hobbs and his son “Danny” (Michael Burns) getting lost in the fog while sailing, Hobbs reluctantly taking a birding excursion with Mr. Turner (John McGiver) and Hobbs getting stuck in the bathroom with the naked Mrs. Turner (Marie Wilson). However, my favorite scene is when the Turners first arrive and it becomes apparent that they have absolutely ZERO interests (with the exception of birding that is!). Look for Herb Alpert as the trumpet player in the yacht club band. Warning: As “Joe,” Fabian sings a duet with Hobbs’ teenage daughter “Katey” (Lauri Peters) at “Pizza Heaven.” Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation was scripted by Nunnally Johnson and based on a 1954 novel titled Mr. Hobbs’ Vacation by Edward Streeter (Father of the Bride). The film also features John Saxon (Enter the Dragon), Lili Gentle, Natalie Trundy, Josh Peine, Minerva Urecal and Reginald Gardiner (as yacht club douchebag “Reggie McHugh”). Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation would make a good double feature with Summer Rental (1985), which starred John Candy as the hapless vacationer. Useless Trivia: Stewart and O’Hara would co-star once again in the 1966 Western The Rare Breed.

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