Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


MacMurray gets lost in the sewers of Paris!

BON VOYAGE! (1962). Director: James Neilson.

Indiana native Harry Willard (Fred MacMurray), his wife, Katie (Jane Wyman), his teenage son, Elliott (Tommy Kirk), and daughter, Amy (Deborah Walley), plus youngest son, Skipper (Kevin Corcoran), travel by boat to Paris and the Riviera and have a series of misadventures. It's a question why the Disney studio often took light fare for the whole family and made such films over two hours long [at least In Search of the Castaways, which was loaded with incident, was under two hours]. In any case the movie does have some surprises even though much of it is predictable: Harry and Elliott both encounter the same French hooker [in a sixties Disney movie!], and Harry gets good and drunk at a party. Amy has an on-again/off-again romance with a wealthy young man named Nick (Michael Callan of Mysterious Island) but it's a question what such a sophisticated fellow with gorgeous French girlfriends would see in a sweet but virginal "drip" like her. When Katie tells hubby that "it's important Amy find out she's a vital, warm-blooded young woman" due to her hormonal reaction to Nick, it's almost as if she were afraid her daughter was gay. Many of the sequences go on for too long, and some discussions about the children are repeated too often, but at least there are some genuinely funny moments, especially a sequence at a casino. Katie is pursued by a middle-aged Lothario; Elliott pursues various young females [the mother of one of whom wants to extort money from Harry]; and Harry gets lost in the sewers of Paris during a tour [during which young Skipper has to take a pee -- at least an appropriate place!]. MacMurray and Wyman are old pros who know just now to handle this material, and the others, particularly Callan, are all on the mark. One admirable thing about the movie is that it doesn't knock Europe or make traveling to other countries out to be some terrible, dull thing; the Willards appreciate the art, culture, and beauty of Paris.

Verdict: Amiable if distinctly minor comedy with some funny sequences. **1/2.

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