DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
FACTS OF LIFE, THE (director/writer: Melvin Frank; screenwriter: Norman Panama; cinematographer: Charles Lang; editor: Frank Bracht; music: Leigh Harline; cast: Bob Hope (Larry Gilbert), Lucille Ball (Kitty Weaver), Ruth Hussey (Mary Gilbert), Don DeFore (Jack Weaver), Louis Nye (Hamilton Busbee), Philip Ober (Doc Mason), Marianne Stewart (Connie Mason); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Hal C. Kern/Norman Panama; United Artists; 1960)

 
"A mild satire on an adulterous affair between bored suburbanites."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Writer-director Melvin Frank ("Strange Bedfellows"/"A Touch of Class"/"Li'l Abner") directs this sophisticated dramedy starring Bob Hope and Lucille Ball. It's cowritten by producer Norman Panama. In 1960, the popular TV series The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour (a sequel to I Love Lucy) ended and so did Lucy's marriage to Desi Arnaz. This semi-serious comedy with old chum Hope was a diversion for Lucy's blues. The pic is a mild satire on an adulterous affair between bored suburbanites.

Middle-aged Pasadena housewife Kitty Weaver (Lucille Ball), married to gambler businessman Jack (Don DeFore), arrives in Monterey for a weekend romantic tryst with ad man quipster Larry Gilbert (Bob Hope), the husband of a good friend, Mary (Ruth Hussey), and the film goes into flashback as it recalls the events that happened two months ago that led to the affair of the previous incompatible twosome. 

The Weavers, Gilberts and Masons (Philip Ober & Marianne Stewart), neighbors and close friends, always vacation together to save expenses. When both Larry's wife and Kitty's husband can't make it on time for their Acapulco vacation, they go alone and plan to wait for their spouses arrival. Despite being married and never caring for each other, the two bored country-club set acquaintances fall in love and spend the vacation period trying to consummate their lust to no avail. They are thwarted in their heat by comic mishaps in motels and mountain lodges.

Things successfully turn out to be a soft blend of seriousness, moralizing and good-natured comedy, as the Hope character has a little more dimension than his usual one dimensional jokester one. This is not a great pic (both the drama and comedy are too bland for that), but for a Hope vehicle it stands out as one of his better efforts to be more real.

REVIEWED ON 11/18/2009       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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