5.3/10
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15 user 6 critic

Call Me Bwana (1963)

Not Rated | | Comedy | 14 June 1963 (USA)
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 ... See full summary »

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Matt
... Luba
... Frederica
... Ezra
... First Henchman
Paul Carpenter ... Col. Spencer
... Chief
Al Mulock ... Second Henchman
Bari Jonson ... Uta
... Williams
Mai Ling ... Hyacinth
Mark Heath ... Koba
Robert Nichols ... American Major
Neville Monroe ... Reporter
... Reporter (as Michael Moyer)
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Storyline

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, an utter fraud and authority only on feminine pulchritude, to go find it. A foreign power sends Secret Agent Luba to go after Matthew and stop at nothing - absolutely nothing - to get it from him. Dr. Ezra Mungo is peeved that Luba superseded him, and is sent along posing as her father but has plans of his own.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. 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 <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Hope invades Darkest Africa with the barest of essentials...food...water...and Anita Ekberg! See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 June 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Appelez-moi chef  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A poster for this film is featured in From Russia with Love (1963). It shows an Anita Ekberg head shot on the side of a building when 007 and Ali Kerim Bey are about to assassinate Krilencu. A window opens (appearing to be Ekberg's mouth) and Krilencu exits the building on a rope and is shot. After the assassination, 007 makes one of his inimitable quips as he says: "She should have kept her mouth shut". Both films were from United Artists. Note, however, that the relevant chapter of the Ian Fleming novel was titled "The Mouth of Marilyn Monroe". See more »

Goofs

In US operations centre, there is a map of Africa with a coloured area showing where the satellite may have landed. The shape of this coloured area changes between the long and close shots. See more »

Quotes

Matthew Merriwether: The only wild animal I want to see is the cigarette girl at the Stork Club.
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Crazy Credits

Opening credits of cast and crew are depicted by various monkeys and chimps. See more »

Connections

Referenced in From Russia with Love (1963) See more »

Soundtracks

Call Me Bwana
Music and Lyrics by Monty Norman
Performed by Bob Hope (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Hope Was Way Behind the Times
17 December 2006 | by See all my reviews

Someone forgot to tell old ski nose that non-authentic African locations just weren't going to cut it any more. Not after King Solomon's Mines and The African Queen right up to Howard Hawks's acclaimed Hatari. What was good for the Road to Zanizibar wasn't going to cut it any more with a Sixties audience.

Call Me Bwana other than establishing background shots got no closer to Africa than London where the film was made. The plot such as it is has Hope as a Robert Ruark type author who has used his uncle's African diary as material for some successful books. This in fact was the same plot device that was used in the very funny Man's Favorite Sport where Rock Hudson was a fishing expert.

But all Rock was asked to do was enter and win a fishing tournament. In Call Me Bwana, the Kennedy administration wants to have the CIA hire Bob Hope to lead an expedition to recover a lost satellite before the Russians get it. The Russians in turn are sending Gina Lollabrigida in a ridiculous blond wig to help their man in Africa, Lionel Jeffries.

I do realize this is a comedy, but are we to believe that the Central Intelligence Agency didn't do some background check on Hope and found his credentials weren't all that good? Lord, they were non-existent. Helping Hope in his quest is CIA agent Edie Adams who I'm sure was personally hired at the agency by Allen Dulles.

Hiring Edie, I'm sure was either an act of charity or it's possible that Lionel Jeffries's part was originally meant for her late husband Ernie Kovacs. If the latter was the case it's a good thing Ernie checked out when he did.

There's a whole sequence when in the jungle Hope finds a golf course with Arnold Palmer playing on it. It's about 10 minutes and what might have been funny in a surreal road picture lays a Vermont volleyball of an egg in Call Me Bwana. The golf allows Hope however to get his obligatory Crosby jokes in the script.

The real problem is that by 1963 the American public had increased its knowledge of Africa. Sub Sahara Africa was in the news then, the Congo was in civil war, apartheid was being challenged in the Union of South Africa, there were wars against the Portugese in Angola and Mozambigue, and both Northern and Southern Rhodesia were in turmoil. Bob Hope was way behind the times in trying to sell Call Me Bwana.

Anita Ekberg was a most beautiful and fetching Russian spy. But she's Russian in the tradition of Janet Leigh in Jet Pilot rather than Greta Garbo in Ninotchka. Of course the charm of Bob Hope forces her to defect as per the American script has. I often wonder though did the Russians make films where charming spies get Americans to defect to them?

Call Me Bwana was doomed from the start in its release. What was funny in 1943 couldn't be sold in 1963.


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