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Joseph M. Newman
Wally Hogan has things going his way. He is the manager-trainer of Bullet Bradley, a fighter who has just won the lightweight championship. Life suddenly takes a not-so-happy turn, however, when Bullet gets drafted. Hogan's gangster partners "persuade him to enlist and keep an eye on the fighter, who is subsequently declared psychologically unfit for the Army. Enter Herbet Tuttle, a draftee eager to have Hogan turn him into a fighter. Hogan Reluctantly agrees only after he discovers Tuttle's aunt is the beautiful singer at a nightclub. From then on it's a case of stringing Tuttle along while trying to get close to his aunt. To further complicate Hogan's life there is a rulebook Military Police Officer who tries to squish the shenanigans. Written by
Nathan Face <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Off Limits is a very typical Bob Hope product with Hope playing a character that he's done before, a guy who thinks he's a sharpie, but is really quite the schnook. Hope is a fight manager who finally gets himself a champion in Stanley Clements only to be done out of his end of the champ by partners, Marvin Miller and Richard Weil.
It's quite the con they pull, sending a fake draft notice to Clements and then having Hope enlist to protect their investment. Of course Clements gets rejected by the Draft Board, but Hope's in for the duration.
While there he buddies up with Mickey Rooney who was also a fighter and thinks he can be lightweight champion himself. Hope kids him along because he's got his mind on Marilyn Maxwell who is Rooney's aunt if you can believe that one. Later on Hope and Rooney get real earnest in their championship quest.
All this is done mind you while the two of them become Military Police. That's another thing I found hard to swallow in Off Limits. Still Rooney and Hope work quite well together and I'm surprised they never did another film together. All their shenanigans are watched with a jaundiced eye by the Captain of the MPs Eddie Mayehoff who probably has the best performance in the film.
Off Limits was the second of two films Bob Hope did with Marilyn Maxwell the first being the infinitely better The Lemon Drop Kid. The two of them were involved with each other at the time though that would shortly come to an end. There's a little bite in their scenes together as Maxwell was realizing Hope wasn't going to leave Dolores for her.
If you look quick you'll see Charles Bronson in a brief appearance as a fighter training in a gym in one scene. Bing Crosby makes his obligatory appearance in Hope film via a clip from Welcome Stranger.
As in The Lemon Drop Kid, Jay Livingston and Ray Evans wrote the score though nothing as memorable as Silver Bells came out Off Limits. Still it's a pleasant enough service comedy, though far from Hope's best work.
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