Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! (1966) Blu-ray Review: Please Hang Up and Try Again

If there’s one thing film historians and aficionados alike can agree on, it’s that you can’t make a good movie with a bad script. Even a comedic titan such as the late, great Bob Hope would discover he was not immune to this theory as both he and his career entered the 1960s, wherein the legendary star of stage, screen, and radio ‒ who was now fully able to make a few dumb sex jokes for an hour-and-a-half thanks to changing times ‒ found himself with nothing more to do than make a few dumb sex jokes for an hour-and-a-half. And one of the “best” examples of Hope’s filmic output from the ’60s is now available for all to see thanks to Olive Films’ resurrection of the universally panned 1966 comedy Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!

Unceremoniously praised for what it is(n’t) by Harry and Michael Medved in their infamous 1978 book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (And How They Got That Way), George Marshall’s Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! finds Bob Hope trapped in what can only be described as the extended, feature-length pilot episode of a really bad sitcom which was canceled before it even aired and then given a theatrical release out of sheer spite. But of course, unlike that time in 2013 when NBC wisely axed Dane Cook’s Next Caller before it even started, Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! ‒ which starred an actual, funny comedian ‒ somehow succeeded in making it to the screens (big silver ones, at that!) in 1966.

Of course, after 51 years and the advancement of a society which permitted Dane Cook to exist in the first place, the mediocrity of Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! almost seems quite refreshing. That’s an “almost,” kids ‒ it’s still a bad movie no matter how you dial the digits. Set during a strange time when men and women relied on immobile phones with weird rotary thingies instead of buttons and an all-but-extinct species known as operators to guide them through the tedious process of using said machines, Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! opens by immediately informing the audience it has no clue what to do with its second-billed imported sexpot, Elke Sommer, who is cast as a famous French actress named Didi.

You may not realize it (or even wish to accept it), boys and girls, but that’s pretty much the plot of the whole dumb film. And it only gets worse from there as Bob tries to figure out how to sneak out to meet his new ladyfriend without his wife or anyone else getting the wrong impression. Naturally, everyonegets the wrong impression (most notably those who were fooled by the film’s advertising campaign) once the cat is out of the bag and a frenzied media begins to converge on a cheap cabin set, which eventually culminates in a very stereotypically ’60s madcap chase for our cowardly hero when authorities mistakenly believe he has killed the famous French starlet. All this amid a generous serving of martinis, cringeworthy sex jokes, and utterly predictable sitcom gags.

Strangely enough, the film’s saving grace is casting of Phyllis Diller ‒ the late comedienne best remembered for her wild hair and self-depreciating humor. Indeed, Diller’s ability to crack a quip and cackle away whilst chewing on every piece of scenery within reach not only makes Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! feel more like a bad sitcom, but also makes it much more bearable ‒ even as she knowingly, repeatedly breaks the fourth wall much to someone’s chagrin. Sadly, this was Diller’s big break in film: she appeared in two more duds with mentor Bob Hope, before being restricted to mostly television and voiceover work for the remainder of her career. (Perhaps that final, shameless onscreen gag in the nude suit wasn’t such a good idea, Phyllis.)

Olive Films resurrects this 1960s landline equivalent of a butt dial for all to scratch and/or shake their heads over on both DVD and Blu-ray. The MPEG-4 AVC encoded 25GB Blu-ray release presents disbelieving viewers with an above average 1080p transfer of the subpar, sub-cult classic, which is presented in a matted 1.85:1 aspect ratio preserving the original (short-lived) theatrical exhibitions. The English DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio more than suffices in bringing out all of the Hope/Diller wisecracks and Elke Sommer moaning (honestly, she’s practically unbearable in this film). Optional English (SDH) subtitles are the only special feature here; the barebones release doesn’t even contain a trailer (which, all things considered, is probably for the best).

Like another less-than-prominately acclaimed and notorious flop of the ’60s, Morey Amsterdam’s atrocity Don’t Worry, We’ll Think of a Title (1965), Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! is one of those dumb comedies from yesteryear that has actually become funny for all of the wrong reasons over the course of time. But that doesn’t change the fact the four (repeat, four) credited writers of Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! either had nothing to work with or they were just angry at mankind and wanted to hurt us (which I find unlikely, as Dane Cook hadn’t even been born yet). Sure, it’s bad, but it is nevertheless quite the interesting curiosity for not only devoted cinemasochists, but fans of the film’s stars as well.

And it is to those of you I heartily recommend Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!

As for the rest of you, well, you may want to think twice before answering this call.

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Luigi Bastardo

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