Blu-ray Review: Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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Recently issued as a limited edition Blu-ray (3,000 copies) by Twilight Time, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation is a feather-light comedy from 1962. The picture was directed by the very prolific Henry Koster (nearing the end of his career), perhaps best known for the 1950 James Stewart vehicle Harvey. Stewart also stars here as Mr. Roger Hobbs, delivering a laidback, amiable performance as a stressed-out working stiff who (as the title suggests) takes an extended summer vacation at a beach house. He’s got his devoted wife Peggy (Maureen O’Hara) with him, along with their kids and even grandkids.

Honestly it’s Stewart, who would go on to make two more similarly light comedies with Koster at the helm, who makes Mr. Hobbs as memorable as it is (which is to say, not very). He and O’Hara make a likable couple, both delivering effortless relaxed work. A series of complications and distractions involving bad plumbing, bird watching, bikini babes, and ornery offspring ensues, all conspiring to throw a wrench in the Hobbs’ holiday.

It’s hardly enough to sustain the 118-minute running time, but as a harmless, fluffy time-passer Mr. Hobbs serves its purpose. Roger has a sweet little boating excursion with his young son Danny (Michael Burns), getting lost in the fog but bonding over baseball stats. He also pays boys five bucks a pop to dance with his self-conscious, wallflower daughter Katey (Lauri Peters). Katey winds up with the last laugh when she captures the attention teen idol Fabian, playing a “character” by the name of Joe. The two even sing a cute duet, apropos of nothing.

Mr Hobbs cover (214x280).jpgGiven the mildness of its content (the edgiest it gets is a running gag involving a woman on the party line talking about semi-graphic medical issues every time Roger picks up the phone), this is the kind of movie that today would be at home on the Hallmark Channel or something similar. But back in ’62, Hobbs managed to receive a few serious accolades. James Stewart snagged a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy. Screenwriter Nunnally Johnson was honored with a WGA nomination for Best Written Comedy. It’s hard to imagine this one leaving a significant impression on anyone, but for hardcore fans of Stewart it will likely be a welcome addition to their collection.

Mr. Hobbs has made the transition to Blu-ray extremely well. The high definition transfer presented here is beautifully clean and naturally filmic. Framed at 2.35:1, the picture is remarkably fresh for a 52-year-old production. No irregularities to report. Ditto for the DTS-HD MA mono mix, which offers an expert balance of dialogue and Henry Mancini’s swinging score. It’s a great looking and sounding Blu-ray.

Speaking of Mancini’s music, it’s offered as an isolated track in DTS-HD MA 2.0 (a standard feature of most Twilight Time releases). Besides the film’s theatrical trailer, the only other special feature is the minute-long “Movietone Movie Lot” newsreel. Julie Kirgo contributes another of her excellent essays for the booklet, always managing to bring interesting analysis even to a trifle like this.

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation is available via Twilight Time’s distributor Screen Archives. Visit the official website for ordering information while supplies last.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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