John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! (1965) Poster

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96 minutes of hilarious jabs at American foreign policy in the middle east
lafong-215 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
When "Wrong Way Goldfarb", former college football player noted for running a touchdown for the other team, becomes an American U2 pilot, he, naturally has problems with his plane during a top secret mission. When he eventually crashes, its not in the U.S.S.R. of course, but the Kingdom of Fawzia (rhymes with "Saudia"). Taken "prisoner" he soon meets Jenny Ericson, undercover Strife magazine newspaperwoman, posing undercover as a Harem-girl in the King's household, to get the "low down" on Harem life for American readers.

The antics in the Fawzian household with the King (Ustinov), Goldfarb (Crenna) and Jenny (MacLaine) are a kick providing opportunities for many double entendres and sexual innuendo. Half of the movie, after all, does take place inside a harem! But, the real entertainment is watching the floundering US bureaucrats deal with this delicate situation. The bickering in the state department offices about how to resolve the mess of a U2 pilot crashing inside a foreign country (when the US insists it doesn't own such planes, and if it did, they wouldn't fly over foreign countries)is outrageously funny. At one point, a "pin" is added to the crisis map of the world as part of their tracking method for "hot spots" and... but, I don't want to spoil it for you! Viewed in 2006, the 60's humor is clever and jabs fun unmercifully at ethnicity, religion, looks, race, and patriotic fervor. This is not a movie for those who cannot laugh at themselves, or others. Goldfarb's Jewishness, Jenny's iceberg sexuality, the King's sexual proclivities and toys, Harem humor, national pride - its all there.

Crenna mostly plays exasperated, but, delivers with effective physical humor. MacLaine is so energized she sometimes makes you tired to watch her move; but, delivers her lines so snappily you just go with the flow while you watch her. Ustinov is his usual droll self, but, it works. Henry Morgan and Jim Backus add the most depth to the movie with their earnest yearning to do the right thing, but saddled with idiots at home and in the field (Fred Clark and Jerome Cowan). And the Fawzians in spite of still having Harems, are NOT dopes - guards make extremely astute observations on the American ambassadors (lack of )knowledge about Fawzian culture that will crack you up.

The script is what holds the movie together. Its clever. Its funny. Its not politically correct. Too bad its so hard to find.
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Low-grade Humor and Subtle Satire; a Sexy Romp That's Hard To Forget
silverscreen88814 September 2005
Two sorts of minds watch "John Goldfarb"--"realists" who regard the movie as a satirical send-up of U.S. public-interest postmodernists, and "surrealists" who regard the surrealized Establishment in the U.S. as realistic and miss the movie's point. Since I am the leader of the first group, I regard "Goldfarb" as one of the funniest satires ever made. The behavior of Establishment types throughout the film is consonant with and nearly as inane as their real-life performances before or since 1965. The plot involves a man dogged by cosmic bad luck, John Goldfarb, dubbed "Wrong Way" by a female reporter after an unfortunate football play some years earlier. A U-2 pilot for the USAF, he meets the same reporter, while going the wrong way in a Washington building. He takes off on a secret mission over Russia, she is forced by her editor to take on an un-feminist assignment: to get the lowdown on girls being smuggled into a Middle Eastern harem, belonging to king Fawz of Fawzia. The third thread of the story is the need to placate oil-rich Fawz after our ambassador sends him pigskin luggage for his anniversary and his son is dropped from Notre Dame's football team, and complains the coach did it because he is Arab, not Irish. The three strands become a tangled knot when his instruments fail and Goldfarb lands not in Russia but in Fawzia, when his fuel runs out. And, of course, he is recruited by Fawz--to train an Arab football team that can defeat Notre Dame and avenge the insult to his son...Goldfarb tries to hold out, shows the King film of Notre Dame's powerful college squad but cannot dissuade him. The King then bribes him with a harem girl; he recognizes Jenny, the girl reporter; she is now trapped in the harem, having been told Fawz is too old for sex but having been singled out for attention by the lecherous king. He chooses her from among a group of eager dancers, to Fawz's displeasure; and they set up housekeeping in a room of the palace; every few hours, a golden toy train goes by, and Fawz asks, "Are you still happy with her?". This Goldfarb nominates (classically) as "dittahowatrola", since a victrola is playing on the train, while a camera snaps flash pictures and a penguin is carried by. He trains a team, finally, to get to go home. Of course they are a disaster--until he recruits Bedouin warriors as college students: "Our country right or wrong," he murmurs. Then it's the turn of the government which lost him in the first place to try to deal with his disappearance; they put ads in newspapers, "John Goldfarb, Please Come Home". And the State Department has to convince the head of Notre Dame to allow his team to play the Arab squad, no easy task. The game is played; and the party that precedes it and the game have become cinematic classics. This is a sexy, spirited and often intelligent romp with only the utter ineptitude of the U.S.'s State Department types as its parody element; it has marvelous satire of Republican governmental methods and sly jabs at every group concerned. Directed with style by J. Lee Thompson, the film boasts set decorations by Stuart A. Reiss and Walter M. Scott, lovely costumes by Adele Balkan, Edith Head and Ray Aghayan, bright cinematography by legendary Leon Shamroy, art direction by Dale Hennesy and Jack Martin Smith. The cast included Richard Crenna as the "crooked astronaut 'Wrong Way' Goldfarb, Pete Ustinov hamming delightfully as the King, Shirley Maclaine trying hard as a frigid girl reporter, Fred Clark, Harry Morgan, Jim Backus, Richard Deacon, David Lewis, and Milton Frome as the government hacks, plus Telly Savalas, Leon Askin, Jerome Cowan, Charles Lane, Jerry Ohrbach, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Patrick Adiarte as the Prince, Scott Brady as Notre Dame's Coach, Jackie Coogan as the University's beleaguered Chancellor, Angela Douglas, Nai Bonet, Irene Tsu and Sultanna as harem girls and now-familiar actors in smaller roles. The film has a fun situation, color, laughs and pretty girls. When Fred Clark pulls the pin on a place destroyed by a cobalt bomb and wonders, "Thulia Oman?", we know we are dealing with a realistic portrayal our state department. Music by John Williams, state department types named Subtle Overreach and Miles Whitepaper--this may be Hollywood but it's as near as the latest headline.
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A Hilarious Farce, Trashed by Politically Correct Prigs
jacksflicks28 December 2000
Only politically correct prigs and other humorless types will fail to enjoy this over-the-top farce. (Including some here, one of whom doesn't like "Michael" Myers, so consider the source.) The plot involves a dim U-2 pilot (Richard Crenna) who takes a wrong turn and lands in the oil-soaked desert domain of a zany sheik, a dippy journalist (Shirley MacLane) trapped in his harem, State Department bureaucrats, the Notre Dame football team, and other innocents who find themselves asea in the sand.

Everyone's insulted, so everyone should have a good time. Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau was classic, but Peter Ustinov's King Fawz is something else again. If you see "John Goldfarb" in your TV listings, gather your craziest crowd, pass the stash, and laugh away the evening on this crazy flick.
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Fine offbeat fare
inframan9 September 2002
Saw this years ago but saw it several times. Early sexy funny Shirley, hilarious Ustinov, Crenna when he was in top comedic form. Great fun. Maltin hated it so you know it had to have something going for it. Too bad it got trashed. Very offbeat & funny & appealing.
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Arabian Night Football
EmperorNortonII30 October 2004
"John Goldfarb, Please Come Home" is a farce seemingly typical of the '60s. The story centers around a bumbling pilot and former college football player who finds himself as coach of a ragtag football team in the Middle East. William Peter Blatty, author of "The Exorcist," wrote this comedy (hard to believe!). It's a movie full of political incorrectness. Peter Ustinov is at the heart, playing a crackpot Arab sultan. And Shirley MacLaine does a memorable turn as a female reporter going undercover in the harem. She does a unique belly dance here! Of course, a movie like this couldn't be made today. But let's just look back and enjoy the laughs, shall we?
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Wacky, crazy '60s comedy
Tenkun9 August 2004
I saw "John Goldfarb, Please Come Home" today hoping to see a funny Richard Crenna/Shirley Maclaine film. I was not disappointed. It was the absolute epitome of the '60s, made right in the middle of the decade. The music, done by a young "Johnny" Williams simply managed to reinforce this notion. The opening/ending theme, sung by the lead actress, had an Arabian sound to it, fitting enough. The movie takes place when it was made, in the middle of the Cold War. As it begins, a US ambassador to the nonexistent Middle East country of Fawzia (strangely similar to Saudi Arabia) has just sent the Sultan, a toy train obsessor with a golden golf cart and a harem, pigskin luggage, which just so happens to offend the Muslim. Therefore, the Americans intend to do everything they can to appease him. They didn't count on two things, though: John "Wrong Way" Goldfarb, all-American football star and U2 pilot, and Jenny Ericson, reporter for STRIFE magazine, who intends to get inside the sultan's harem and report on it. Meanwhile, Goldfarb gets lost (big surprise) and crash lands in Fawzia. There are all sorts of crazy complications involving Goldfarb, the reporter (and concubine), and the sultan's would-be football player son, who attended Notre Dame college. It all culminates in an insane football game between Notre Dame and the Fawz U team. If you miss it, you're missing something out of this world. Of course, if you deplore '60s comedies, you might wanna steer clear. Maclaine and Crenna are great together, and Ustinov as the eccentric sultan is brilliant. For all its insanity, I loved it.
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Very pleasantly surprised
Chris Clazie20 February 2002
I was fortunate enough to see this movie recently for the first time.I could not understand why we had not seen it in the UK on tv since it's general release in 1965.Being a Shirley Maclaine fan,I was looking forward to it.Was I surprised!I found it highly amusing,often laugh out loud funny.Peter Ustinov is incredible in this.I think the director J.Lee Thompson is English,and maybe that's something Ustinov responded to.The scenes with the animals in particular,are outrageously funny.Being a Brit,I'm afraid to say I don't really understand American football,but in this movie you don't have to.Sit back for 90 minutes,suspend belief,if you can,think your way back to the 60's and just enjoy.My son who's into modern movies and the new stars,saw some of this and laughed out loud.It's wonderful,crazy fun and not to be taken seriously.John Goldfarb,Please Come Back.Soon.8/10
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Not Toy Trains
Dagwood11 July 2008
This movie was excellent when I was 10 and every time I see it (have it on VHS) cracks me up! I hate to contradict other reviewers, but the trains are not "Toy Trains". They are actual live steam locomotives. They were supplied by Mrs. Lewis from Lomita CA. Her company was "Little Engines". She loaned them to this movie. She was a member of the Los Angeles Live Steamers back then as was Walt Disney, David Rose and others. They are machined to various scales, but they are not toys, some are upwards of $30,000. Many have been used in other show such as Silver Spoons. We love this movie just to see the engines and the King drive his scooter that is even funnier. Shirley is the best as always and Richard Crenna never gets a break!
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This is a classic comedy, it is a good laughing movie!
AuntieR545 June 2004
Watching this movie mad me laugh when I was 9 and memories of it still make me laugh today! Not many movies have that ability. It is nonsensical at times. But that was what made it a great movie! I wish they would come out with it on DVD. America needs a good old fashioned laugh movie... Bright colors and funny gags and all. For all of the advances they have made in the movie industry, movies like John Goldfarb stand out as clear, bright and yes maybe a bit unreal. The harem dancing was so funny. I can remember my sisters trying to dance like them. It was a movie the whole family could watch and not worry about certain words...... Virtual Reality comes to mind. haha We lose ourselves enough in the cyber world as it is. John Goldfarb brings us home... Even if he had to get lost to do it.
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A complete mess...although a few good laughs do emerge from the morass
moonspinner559 January 2009
When you think of zany Hollywood comedies, the names of director J. Lee Thompson and screenwriter William Peter Blatty probably don't immediately come to mind. "John Goldfarb" is a with-it satire of politics, fads, football, feminism and other topical issues which audiences of 1965 preferred to be without. Richard Crenna plays a piloting spy (nicknamed "Wrong Way Goldfarb") who thinks he's bailed out over the U.S.S.R.; instead, it's an Arab country ruled by gadget-crazy nut Peter Ustinov. Meanwhile, magazine writer Shirley MacLaine (who also warbles the title song!) has infiltrated Ustinov's harem, apparently trying to get the scoop of the century (but on what, I couldn't figure out). Too many targets and sight-gags render the loosely-hinged plot irrelevant, however some of MacLaine's shrieks are good for a laugh (and she looks cute in a hot-pink two-piece). What were these talented filmmakers thinking when they hatched this rotten egg? It's just a brightly-painted doodle, but even screwball nonsense should have at least one sane person to steer the ship. The cast here is kept running back and forth, waving their arms and yelling insults, while director Thompson must've been chortling in his sleep. * from ****
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