Funnyman Bob Hope played his last big-screen leading role in this limp, old-fashioned farce about a cowardly smartass who stumbles onto intrigue while vacationing near Native American land in Arizona. Written and photographed in roughly the same style that had been employed for Hope’s comedies since the World War II era, Cancel My Reservation uses a contrived and silly plot as a delivery device for rapid-fire jokes, and the wheezy gags take unkind jabs at everything from indigenous peoples to women’s rights. The ages of the leading actors are distracting, as well. Despite being nearly 70 years old when he made this picture, Hope is put across as the virile center of a love triangle, with the character’s wife (played by 48-year-old Eva Marie Saint) and a sexy squaw (played by 25-year-old Anne Archer, decidedly not of Native American heritage) competing for his affections. Hope’s ability to land zingers remained sharp his entire life, so forgiving viewers might be able to chuckle a few times during Cancel My Reservation. Most folks, however, will find the piece irritatingly artificial and moderately distasteful. Here’s the setup. After fighting with his wife/cohost Sheila (Saint) one too many times, Dan (Hope) takes a trip to his ranch out west, only to find a dead body in his house. The body disappears, but not before Dan gets into a hassle with the local constabulary. Later, he finds a live body in his house—naked and willing “Crazy” (Archer). This doesn’t sit well with Sheila, who arrives unexpectedly and discovers Dan with “Crazy.” Together, these three solve a mystery involving land grabs and police corruption. In a typically dumb scene, Dan and Sheila seek advice from Indian mystic “Old Bear” (Chief Dan George), who looks at his visitors and says the following via subtitles: “This chick is out of sight—and I wish he was!” Familiar players Ralph Bellamy, Keenan Wynn, Henry Darrow, and Forrest Tucker round out the supporting cast, while Johnny Carson, Bing Crosby, John Wayne, and Flip Wilson all cameo in a dream sequence.
Cancel My Reservation: LAME