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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » I'll Take Sweden (Blu-ray)
I'll Take Sweden (Blu-ray)
Olive Films // Unrated // June 21, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted July 20, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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In 10 Words or Less
Bob Hope, Frankie Avalon and the desires of the patriarchy

Reviewer's Bias*
Loves: Sweden
Likes: Bob Hope, Frankie Avalon, ‘60s "beach" movies
Dislikes: TV-pacing in movies
Hates: Bare bones releases

The Movie
As the father of a daughter, I get the desire of dads to protect their little girls from harm. However, Tuesday Weld, who plays JoJo in I'll Take Sweden is no little girl. And she likes to have fun, as her single father Bob (Bob Hope) has learned, particularly when he returns from a business trip to find his house turned upside-down by a wild teen shindig. He also gets to meet Kenny (Frankie Avalon), the ne'er-do-well who has won JoJo's heart and no plans to marry her. Envisioning a bleak future for his daughter and her aimless, guitar-playing, motorcycle-riding, drop-out of a fiance, he concocts a plan to get her away to safety by taking a job abroad in Sweden. Unfortunately for Bob, on foreign land she meets Erik (Jeremy Slate), and falls for the more mature Swede and his less-puritanical views on premarital sex.

So the whole thing boils down to Bob not being able to control his daughter, whether in regard to her future with Kenny or her present with Erik. For a film from 1965, this set-up is certainly not unusual, but it definitely has not aged well, though JoJo is feisty enough to prevent it from feeling too old-fashioned. (The same however cannot be said for a "hilarious" chase/attempted rape that has definitely lost something over time. There was definitely an odd "men forcing themselves onto women" thing back in the day that just doesn't fly anymore.) In the end, Bob has to either learn the folly of his ways, a possibility thanks to the wise, enlightening presence of Karin, his Swedish interior decorator (Dina Merrill), or force his will upon his daughter. Either result would come up short in satisfaction, as the connection between Bob and Karin lacks motivation and JoJo lacks agency (with no real good option available to her.)

This is later-game Hope, and though he's still got that skill with the one-liner, they are delivered with only a modicum of enthusiasm, leaving them hanging in the air, rather than landing with precision. Part of the problem is the way the film straddles two worlds, acting as a Hope comedy, while also highlighting Weld and Avalon, in an attempt to draw younger viewers of the time. Hope becomes a very-slightly bemused observer of a culture he isn't a part of, most obviously when a guitar-strumming Avalon bounds around like he's on pep pills and talks like a beach-bum stereotype. The culture clash, which revolves mainly on morality and extramarital sex, may have worked at the time, but now, with both generations in the rear mirror, the effect is far less interesting, if not just simply quaint.

Directed by TV veteran Frederick De Cordova and written by Nat Perrin, Bob Fisher and Arthur Marx, who wrote on a host of the greatest sitcoms from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, the film has an undeniably episodic feel, betraying their core medium. As a result, the pacing is awkward and the comedy relies on very structured set-ups, especially the third act, which is essentially a sitcom in and of itself. As frustrating as that feel (and Hope's inability to rise above it) can be, it's a bigger problem that the film doesn't know how to put a bow on the whole affair, with an ending that's terribly sudden and relies on a voiceover gag that took a few rewinds to understand. On the plus side, the nostalgia of the beach-comedy musical numbers, powered by Avalon's manic performances, makes for some entertaining moments that help somewhat balance out the film's less engaging portions.

The Disc
I'll Take Sweden arrives on one Blu-ray, in a standard Blu-ray keepcase. The Blu-ray disc has a static menu with options to watch the film, select scenes, adjust the setup and check out the extra. There are no audio options, but subtitles are available in English SDH.

The Quality
The 1.85:1, AVC-encoded 1080p transfer here is quite nice overall, with that Technicolor look you expect for films like this, with bright vivid hues in the daylight scenes, a sharp picture and a high amount of fine detail, though there are a few moments, like the strip club scene that suffer from some softness (which looks to be inherent with the source material.) Darker scenes, especially when outdoors, are a bit noisy, and black levels are decent (not great), but the layer of grain is healthy throughout, resulting in a pleasing image. There are a few bit of damage, but nothing egregious, and digital distractions are not an issue. For its age, I'll Take Sweden looks pretty great (even if none of it was actually shot in Sweden.)

The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track is hardly a system-stresser, as the film doesn't offer many challenges, but it has no problems either, with the center-balanced dialogue and effective music coming across nice and clear, with all elements coming across with proper separation.

The Extras
The only extra here is the film's 3:46 trailer, which is partially narrated by Hope. It's way too long.

The Bottom Line
I'll Take Sweden isn't a classic in anyway, with a lesser performance by Hope and a heavily dated concept, but there is enough going on and some decent nostalgia value to keep it from being a real effort to watch. The presentation is terrific, though there are no extras, so this one is really only for hardcore fans of Hope or Avalon.

Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.

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*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.

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