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Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray Fox Twilight Time

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#1 of 11 Matt Hough

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Posted April 21 2014 - 01:41 PM

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation Blu-ray Review

During his very lengthy career, James Stewart managed to show his versatility in just about every possible genre of moviemaking from thrillers to romantic comedies, biographies, dramas, westerns, even mysteries and musicals. Henry Koster’s Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation finds Stewart as almost the whole show in this overlong slapstick family comedy with lots of famous faces from the older and younger generations of the time but with the burden of the comedy falling squarely on his shoulders. Fortunately, he’s able to keep this overcrowded but underfed little domestic comedy treading water for most of its length and even manages to generate some smiles and chuckles along the way.


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Studio: Fox

Distributed By: Twilight Time

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono)

Subtitles: English SDH

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 1 Hr. 56 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

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Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: All

Release Date: 04/08/2014

MSRP: $29.95




The Production Rating: 3.5/5

Roger Hobbs (James Stewart) returns to work from a month-long beach vacation with his family dubbing it the worst catastrophe in the history of holidays. He then relates to his secretary the various pitfalls he had to navigate during his sojourn including dealing with a creepy beach house with antiquated plumbing, both married older daughters (Lili Gentle, Natalie Trundy) in tenuous relationships with their husbands (Josh Peine who’s out of work, John Saxon who’s being seduced by beach bunny Valerie Varda), fourteen-year old Katey (Lauri Peters) who’s so ashamed of her braces that she’s becoming a wallflower, and young son Danny (Michael Burns) who’s glued to the television. Every solution Roger finds seems to generate another problem, and it’s all he can do to hope to survive the month and get back to the security of his home and job.

Based on the novel Hobbs’ Vacation by Edward Streeter, the screenplay by Nunnally Johnson mixes running gags (the recalcitrant hot water pump and unpredictable kitchen water fixtures, Hobbs reduced to a bellboy always left carrying everyone’s oversized luggage, a bratty grandson who hates grandpa) with some extended comic sequences which on their own are the strongest in the film. Director Henry Koster manages to make a funny and thrilling sailing sequence for Hobbs and his son using rear projection almost exclusively, and a later bird watching hike by Hobbs and his son-in-law’s prospective employer Mr. Turner (John McGiver) is the film’s single best comic sequence. There’s some “risqué“ (for the era, very tame now) bathroom farce with Mrs. Turner (Marie Wilson) and that unpredictable plumbing (reasonably amusing), and some foolishness about pretending to read War and Peace and Moby Dick which never milks the humor out of the set-up situations. In fact, there are a lot of missed opportunities here to mine humor from that Addams Family-style beach house to a cook (Minerva Urecal) who keeps coming and going, and a lengthy party scene where Hobbs pays young men to dance with shy daughter Katey (Fabian’s average Joe finally gets his money’s worth) runs on too long for too little payoff. A later scene with Katey and Joe works in a nothing tune for them to sing “Cream Puff” (unbelievably written by the Oscar-winning combo of Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer) just because Fabian had a crooning career and Lauri Peters was fresh off her role as the original Liesel in the stage version of The Sound of Music. Overall, the film is just too long and too underwritten to sustain any comic through-line, and most of the subplots die a-borning.

James Stewart truly is the whole show in the film being given almost all of the funniest bits and (despite his vow to butt out of his children’s lives) underplaying the poignancy of his straightening out his children’s messes in the style Stewart patented as his own. As his wife, Maureen O’Hara is completely wasted being given nothing of any great consequence to do (she had been used far more intelligently a year earlier in a better domestic comedy The Parent Trap), and Reginald Gardiner as a big shot in the local yacht club is even less well used. Lauri Peters is one of the least convincing fourteen year olds in the movies (she was nineteen at the time) and doesn’t make much of an impression in her “introduction” to film. John McGiver and Marie Wilson are reliably amusing as the hypocritical couple who pretend abstinence but are secret drunks, and Michael Burns gets an effective moment or two as the young Hobbs son who finally connects with his father.



Video Rating: 4.5/5  3D Rating: NA

The Cinemascope aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is faithfully presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Apart from the soft, scratchy stock footage which begins the film, the image quality is very impressive with excellent sharpness throughout and strong color depth with accurate and appealing flesh tones. Contrast is consistently applied to get the best out of the high definition transfer even with a few dust specks which occasionally intrude. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 sound mix is typical of its era with somewhat limited fidelity and a tiny bit of attenuated pops and crackle in a scene or two. Dialogue is always understandable and meshes well with the sound effects and Henry Mancini’s delightful music.



Special Features Rating: 2.5/5

Isolated Score Track: Henry Mancini’s score is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo and sounds marvelous.

Fox Movietone News Clip (1:13, SD): members of the Gophers visit the set of Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation prior to playing in the Rose Bowl.

Theatrical Trailer (2:58, SD)

Six-Page Booklet: contains a series of stills, poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s entertaining essay on the movie.



Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Fans of James Stewart will enjoy his tour de force performance as the put-upon Mr. Hobbs in Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, and this Blu-ray release by Twilight Time presents the film in its best possible condition. There are only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray available. Those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if product is still in stock. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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#2 of 11 Virgoan

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Posted April 21 2014 - 04:30 PM

I really enjoyed the film as it took me back to a time I was coming of age.

Loved that Hobbs hated being called "Boompa".

#3 of 11 JoHud

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Posted April 21 2014 - 09:42 PM

I thought this one was hilarious with a great acerbic performance by James Stewart ("first an albino, now a pygmy!") with some very well done comic moments.  John McGiver in particular helped elevate this to classic status in my opinion.


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#4 of 11 ahollis

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Posted April 22 2014 - 12:40 PM

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Out of the three Stewart/Fox comedies I thought this was the best of the bunch, though I have huge love for Dear Bridget.

Maureen O'Hara is such a plus in this film as is John McGiver, who could not do anything wrong in my book. I also loved the Henry Mancini score.

But agree that the film has it's ups and downs, but the cast of characters is what's makes this film enjoyable to me.
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#5 of 11 Adam Gregorich

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Posted April 22 2014 - 02:36 PM

I haven't seen this in a few years, so  I look forward to giving it a spin on Blu-ray. 


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#6 of 11 Steve...O

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Posted April 23 2014 - 07:04 PM

Thanks, Matt.    My wife and I have always enjoyed this movie - some really funny moments in it.  Ditto the above comments on the great John McGiver.  He makes virtually anything he's in more enjoyable.  

 

I picked this (and several other TT titles) up during their recent sale and haven't had a chance to watch it yet but great to hear that it is a high quality presentation.

 

For those not aware, HTF's own Kevin EK has a familial connection to this movie by virtue of his grandfather who directed it. 


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#7 of 11 Kevin EK

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Posted April 26 2014 - 05:53 AM

This is true.
And I did pick this one up right away.
Currently there are only a handful of my grandfather's movies still unavailable on disc.
Sadly, most of the ones that are available are only MOD.
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#8 of 11 Charles Smith

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Posted April 26 2014 - 07:17 AM

Took my copy for a quick test drive the other night, and it looks wonderful. Look forward to really watching it.

#9 of 11 Richard Gallagher

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Posted April 26 2014 - 07:01 PM

This is true.
And I did pick this one up right away.
Currently there are only a handful of my grandfather's movies still unavailable on disc.
Sadly, most of the ones that are available are only MOD.

 

Kevin,

 

In the summer of 1962 I was a 14-year-old caddy at Bedford Golf & Tennis Club in New York. Bedford also was the home of the Bedford Playhouse, the first move theater I ever went to.

 

During the run of Mr. Hobbs Take a Vacation it rained for three or four days in a row, so we caddies had little luck finding work, at most a dreary nine holes in the morning. So every day for three days in a row we hitched rides to the Bedford Playhouse and spent the afternoon watching the matinee of Mr. Hobbs. It was the first movie that I saw more than once in a theater.


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Rich Gallagher

#10 of 11 Kevin EK

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Posted April 30 2014 - 06:12 AM

Nice to know my grandfather could bring a little sunshine to a rainy day. (Cue the music from Bye Bye Birdie...)

Seriously, that's a great perspective. Thank you.
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#11 of 11 Josh Steinberg

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Posted June 16 2014 - 11:43 PM

Just ordered my copy… haven't seen this in years, I'm excited.  (Just picked up a copy of "Harvey" as well.)







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