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A returning moon capsule with vital information goes off course and lands in Africa where the little-known Ekele tribesmen find it. Washington orders the great African Authority Matthew Merriwether (Bob Hope), an utter fraud and authority only on feminine pulchritude, to go find it. A foreign power sends Secret Agent Luba (Anita Ekberg) to go after Matthew and stop at nothing - absolutely nothing - to get it from him. Dr. Ezra Mungo (Lionel Jeffries) is peeved that Luba superseded him, and is sent along posing as her father but has plans of his own. All meet and form a safari but there is time out for a golf match between Merriwether and Arnold Palmer (Himself). After reaching their destination, with Merriwether madly in love with Luba, they find that the Ekeles believe the capsule is a holy talisman and won't give it up. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A US space probe returns from the moon and lands in Africa. The Americans call upon successful author Bob Hope (as Matthew "Matt" Merriwether) to retrieve the capsule, due to his books detailing the continent. He reluctantly answers his country's request, but Mr. Hope is a fraud; he's never been to Africa. The Russians are also interested in retrieving the probe. They send bosomy anthropologist Anita Ekberg (as Luba) to Africa, because she is "well equipped" to seduce Hope. Hope's traveling partner is attractive Edie Adams (as Frederica "Fred" Larsen) while Ms. Ekberg is accompanied by doctor "father" Lionel Jeffries (as Ezra Mungo).
This could have been a fine Bob Hope movie, with more effort. It was produced by the team behind the "James Bond" series; however, it appears to be more cheaply made. The scenes taking place in Africa are obviously edited in; certainly, Hope and the cast did not go on location. This can work in comedy. However, this time it just looks cheap. The soundtrack is good, but becomes annoyingly repetitive. As a film, "Call me Bwana" appears to have been fully conceived during post-production...
Hope was, by the 1960s, photographed with a shadow covering his head. This was the same shadow that was found over Joan Crawford's neck. In most films, Hope can be seen moving slightly out of the shadow's range. In this film, he is often way out of range - and can be seen with his colored, thinning hair. Even in the more harsh light, Hope's hair looks relatively nice, especially when compared to the full, obvious wigs his contemporaries were now wearing...
Hope's comic persona and delivery make scenes like his arrival in Africa amusing. His topical humor does not age well, but students of history will recognize good fun poked at chair-rocking John F. Kennedy and shoe-pounding Nikita Khrushchev. A surreal encounter with golfing pal Arnold Palmer works as an "inside joke" - with some amusing bits for the uninitiated.
**** Call Me Bwana (6/5/63) Gordon Douglas ~ Bob Hope, Anita Ekberg, Edie Adams, Lionel Jeffries
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