4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation from filmmaking

The perfect summer rental for the last vacation you’ll ever want to take!

Anatomy that’s murder: Jimmy Stewart and Valerie Varda in Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation.
Anatomy that’s murder: Jimmy Stewart and Valerie Varda in Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation.

It’s a film once held in the highest esteem, one I proudly proclaimed the best picture of 1962! I was six at the time. Things might have been different had my parents dragged me to see Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel, adult Scotty’s top pick for ’62, but Babe and Larry never did cotton to films with the talking spelled out at the bottom.

With the summer vacation season rapidly dwindling to a close, let’s take a moment to revisit this fun-packed all-American family furlough. If perchance you identify with the conventionalism Hobbs and his gang go through, there’s a good chance you need to cut the white bread from your diet.

Trade ad, The Film Bulletin, May 28, 1962

It was originally intended as a quiet summer by the shore for Roger Hobbs (Stewart), his wife Peggy (Maureen O’Hara), and their two youngest, Katey (Lauri Peters) and Danny (Michael Burns). After a brief introductory shot of Jimmy Stewart behind the wheel, all similarities between this and Vertigo cease to exist. Hobbs is a sullen, humorless, well-to-do Republican banker, contemptuous of almost every member of his family, who spends his days dictating long, vitriolic personal memos about them to his secretary on company time.

Why anyone would want to leave their peaceful suburban existence is uncertain. With a house as big as the one the Hobbs occupy, they could just as easily get lost for a couple of months in another wing. Wait until you see art director Jack Martin Smith’s hangar-sized bedroom sets (and hideous taste in wallpaper). All this space, yet Roger and Peggy still insist that Katey be shipped off to boarding school.

Their seaside escape is a ramshackle fixer-upper that houses a lot more character than the sterile colosseum they call home in St. Louis. The eyeless portrait of Rex Harrison hanging on the living room wall — left over from The Ghost and Mrs. Muir — alone makes the place a keeper. In order to ensure comic results, they are joined by more kids and grandkids, a dour-faced domestic, and son-in-laws — one with a prospective employer who, along with his carking spouse, materialize in the third act.

Maureen O’Hara, Lauri Peters, Jimmy Stewart, Reginald Owen

Of course everything that could possibly go wrong does. Studio hack Henry Koster tries to show his hand at comic invention by pitting Hobbs against a Rube Goldberg septic pump. It’s a running gag that barely limps.

Roger starts his own impromptu surfside book club with busty blonde neighbor Marika (Valerie Varda). While Hobbs attempts to fulfill his lifetime goal of making it all the way through War and Peace, it’s certain that he has Barry Goldwater’s The Conscience of a Conservative committed to memory. There’s even room for gamey double entendre. Marika, wanting to know the size of the bank Hobbs works for, asks “How big is it?,” causing Roger to blush and stammer. Stewart’s double-takes whenever Marika’s chest gets within range mark a career low point.

Continuing to smuggle in “adult” material, screenwriter Nunnally Johnson (The Grapes of Wrath, The Dirty Dozen), working from Edward Streeter’s novel, has Brenda (Minerva Urecal), the Hobbs’s Finnish cook, object to her employer’s filthy mouth after Hobbs mentions catching some “sun on the beach.” I could go on about Marie Wilson’s steamy “nude” scene, but Wilson held less “hubba hubba” than Julie Andrews and Doris Day combined.

Video:

Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation Trailer

The only thing Roger Hobbs has in common with It’s a Wonderful Life’s George Bailey is a loose-fitting newel post ornament at the foot of the staircase. Hobbs never pays attention to, gets involved with, or even communicates with his kids. He doesn’t notice Katey’s new braces. Danny is hooked on TV, so the instant antagonistic Roger returns home from work he purposely positions himself between son and set. Even third-generation Hobbs tremble in his quake. His bi-polar grandson, who takes great relish in calling Hobbs “Boom-pah,” repeatedly voices his hatred for the non-nurturing patriarch.

When I watched it as a child, Roger Hobbs appeared to be a great provider and ideal father figure. I understand his behavior more clearly now. He basically wants to get all of his kids out of the house, down pitchers of martinis with Peg, and screw. The film’s best scene, both then and now, takes place at a hip Yacht Club party hosted by a swingin’ Reginald Gardner (who appears to have grafted on Little Richard’s mustache). The distinguished St. Louis banker turns pimp when procuring Fabian’s services as an escort for his wallflower daughter. Fabian, in turn, prostitutes himself for a sawbuck and dances with Katey. He later palms a fiver on Roger, hoping for a possible musical interlude at Pizza Heaven and future bank job.

Audio clip

18-Pizza Heaven and Cream Puff

Fabian and Lauri Peters swing that “Cream Puff”

Henry Mancini’s score sounds like Frank De Vol when he wasn’t working for Robert Aldrich. During Fabian’s big number you’ll curl up, be my baby doll, and get enough “Cream Puff” on the brain to send one into diabetic seizure. In the opinion of this reporter, Fred Karger retooled Mr. Mancini’s theme for the equally troubled Phillips family in Hot Rods to Hell. Another Hell connection, “Boom-pah”-hater Peter Oliphant later played a patch of road kill opposite Dana Andrews.

Even with its rank use of widescreen and two pointless digressions (the “scatterbox” bonding scene and John McGiver’s interminable bird spotting), I can’t stop watching. Every summer since its letterboxed home video release in 2005, my DVD copy is freed from its clamshell housing and sent spinning.

There’s not much more to gripe about. Okay, the 4:30 am bird-watching jaunt appears to have been shot after lunch, but that’s okay. Hobbs has been inside my head so long that knocking it would be tantamount to maligning a favorite uncle, no matter how lame and unfunny he might have been.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Todd Gloria has forgotten what democracy is

Reader war story touches reader
Anatomy that’s murder: Jimmy Stewart and Valerie Varda in Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation.
Anatomy that’s murder: Jimmy Stewart and Valerie Varda in Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation.

It’s a film once held in the highest esteem, one I proudly proclaimed the best picture of 1962! I was six at the time. Things might have been different had my parents dragged me to see Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel, adult Scotty’s top pick for ’62, but Babe and Larry never did cotton to films with the talking spelled out at the bottom.

With the summer vacation season rapidly dwindling to a close, let’s take a moment to revisit this fun-packed all-American family furlough. If perchance you identify with the conventionalism Hobbs and his gang go through, there’s a good chance you need to cut the white bread from your diet.

Trade ad, The Film Bulletin, May 28, 1962

It was originally intended as a quiet summer by the shore for Roger Hobbs (Stewart), his wife Peggy (Maureen O’Hara), and their two youngest, Katey (Lauri Peters) and Danny (Michael Burns). After a brief introductory shot of Jimmy Stewart behind the wheel, all similarities between this and Vertigo cease to exist. Hobbs is a sullen, humorless, well-to-do Republican banker, contemptuous of almost every member of his family, who spends his days dictating long, vitriolic personal memos about them to his secretary on company time.

Why anyone would want to leave their peaceful suburban existence is uncertain. With a house as big as the one the Hobbs occupy, they could just as easily get lost for a couple of months in another wing. Wait until you see art director Jack Martin Smith’s hangar-sized bedroom sets (and hideous taste in wallpaper). All this space, yet Roger and Peggy still insist that Katey be shipped off to boarding school.

Their seaside escape is a ramshackle fixer-upper that houses a lot more character than the sterile colosseum they call home in St. Louis. The eyeless portrait of Rex Harrison hanging on the living room wall — left over from The Ghost and Mrs. Muir — alone makes the place a keeper. In order to ensure comic results, they are joined by more kids and grandkids, a dour-faced domestic, and son-in-laws — one with a prospective employer who, along with his carking spouse, materialize in the third act.

Maureen O’Hara, Lauri Peters, Jimmy Stewart, Reginald Owen

Of course everything that could possibly go wrong does. Studio hack Henry Koster tries to show his hand at comic invention by pitting Hobbs against a Rube Goldberg septic pump. It’s a running gag that barely limps.

Roger starts his own impromptu surfside book club with busty blonde neighbor Marika (Valerie Varda). While Hobbs attempts to fulfill his lifetime goal of making it all the way through War and Peace, it’s certain that he has Barry Goldwater’s The Conscience of a Conservative committed to memory. There’s even room for gamey double entendre. Marika, wanting to know the size of the bank Hobbs works for, asks “How big is it?,” causing Roger to blush and stammer. Stewart’s double-takes whenever Marika’s chest gets within range mark a career low point.

Continuing to smuggle in “adult” material, screenwriter Nunnally Johnson (The Grapes of Wrath, The Dirty Dozen), working from Edward Streeter’s novel, has Brenda (Minerva Urecal), the Hobbs’s Finnish cook, object to her employer’s filthy mouth after Hobbs mentions catching some “sun on the beach.” I could go on about Marie Wilson’s steamy “nude” scene, but Wilson held less “hubba hubba” than Julie Andrews and Doris Day combined.

Video:

Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation Trailer

The only thing Roger Hobbs has in common with It’s a Wonderful Life’s George Bailey is a loose-fitting newel post ornament at the foot of the staircase. Hobbs never pays attention to, gets involved with, or even communicates with his kids. He doesn’t notice Katey’s new braces. Danny is hooked on TV, so the instant antagonistic Roger returns home from work he purposely positions himself between son and set. Even third-generation Hobbs tremble in his quake. His bi-polar grandson, who takes great relish in calling Hobbs “Boom-pah,” repeatedly voices his hatred for the non-nurturing patriarch.

When I watched it as a child, Roger Hobbs appeared to be a great provider and ideal father figure. I understand his behavior more clearly now. He basically wants to get all of his kids out of the house, down pitchers of martinis with Peg, and screw. The film’s best scene, both then and now, takes place at a hip Yacht Club party hosted by a swingin’ Reginald Gardner (who appears to have grafted on Little Richard’s mustache). The distinguished St. Louis banker turns pimp when procuring Fabian’s services as an escort for his wallflower daughter. Fabian, in turn, prostitutes himself for a sawbuck and dances with Katey. He later palms a fiver on Roger, hoping for a possible musical interlude at Pizza Heaven and future bank job.

Audio clip

18-Pizza Heaven and Cream Puff

Fabian and Lauri Peters swing that “Cream Puff”

Henry Mancini’s score sounds like Frank De Vol when he wasn’t working for Robert Aldrich. During Fabian’s big number you’ll curl up, be my baby doll, and get enough “Cream Puff” on the brain to send one into diabetic seizure. In the opinion of this reporter, Fred Karger retooled Mr. Mancini’s theme for the equally troubled Phillips family in Hot Rods to Hell. Another Hell connection, “Boom-pah”-hater Peter Oliphant later played a patch of road kill opposite Dana Andrews.

Even with its rank use of widescreen and two pointless digressions (the “scatterbox” bonding scene and John McGiver’s interminable bird spotting), I can’t stop watching. Every summer since its letterboxed home video release in 2005, my DVD copy is freed from its clamshell housing and sent spinning.

There’s not much more to gripe about. Okay, the 4:30 am bird-watching jaunt appears to have been shot after lunch, but that’s okay. Hobbs has been inside my head so long that knocking it would be tantamount to maligning a favorite uncle, no matter how lame and unfunny he might have been.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Black Lives Matter denounces Sea World’s new Sesame Place as White Supremacy

Placism
Next Article

Remembering Louis Procaccino

“He always had food in his pockets”
Comments
3

Didn't Maureen O'Hara have a speaking part? You scarcely mention her. Care to explain? I've never seen this movie so I guess I'll rent it when six-year-olds come over. If it's okay, we'll call it the Babe and Larry film festival. It beats "Rich Hill."

Sept. 9, 2014

There's not much to say about O'Hara's performance. Like any good wife, she stays in the background and does what she's told. :P

Sept. 10, 2014

You are either a provocateur or an old guy to say stuff like that. (But you are funny so, sort of like Janae Rice, I forgive you.)

Sept. 10, 2014

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close