Starring: Bob Hope, Hedy Lamarr, Francis L. Sullivan
Director: Norman Z. McLeod
Running Time: 93 mins
My Favorite Spy is an American film about a comedian who, after being initially mistaken for a missing international secret agent, is given the task of completing his mission: travelling to Tangier, doing battle with an evil businessman, all the while convincing the secret agent’s former lover that he is the same person.
Many comedies rely heavily on one personality for most of their laughs, and don’t put much effort into making the rest of the film as fun as that person. My Favorite Spy is an example of exactly that, putting so much emphasis on Bob Hope being Bob Hope, and not doing much to make the situation his character finds himself in nor the people around him so entertaining.
The one thing that is definitely good about this movie is Bob Hope in the lead role. Putting in a strong performance full of energy and charisma, he’s great to watch throughout, and his brilliant comedic skill brings about pretty much all of the funniest moments of this film, playing as heightened a version of himself as possible, and proving the only appealing personality in the whole movie.
Alongside Hope is Hedy Lamarr as the femme fatale former lover. On the whole, her performance isn’t meant to be laugh-out-loud hilarious like Hope’s, but she’s by no means a shining light in this movie. Her performance feels overly serious for the film, and she and Hope don’t play off one another so well, making for a stark and awkward difference between the two.
And this is where my biggest problem with the film comes in, it’s not funny enough to simply rest on Bob Hope alone. The writing is poor, and there’s far too much focus on the crime story, leaving little time for lots of laughs. If the film wanted to be more serious, then I wouldn’t have minded, but director Norman Z. McLeod doesn’t do the best job at balancing comedy and crime in the film, and it ends up as a bit of a messy affair.
The story itself isn’t great either. Funny comedies often get a pass for mediocre stories if they make you laugh regardless, but the problem with a film that doesn’t make you laugh is that it makes the problems with the story even more glaring. Coming off as a poor parody of films like Casablanca, My Favorite Spy just isn’t interesting enough to save it from being an unfunny comedy.
Overall, I was disappointed by this film. Bob Hope does his best to keep the film as entertaining as possible, and it is when he’s allowed to roam free, but for the most part, this film just isn’t funny enough, nor is it a well-balanced comedy-crime story, making for a frustrating and unfortunately dull watch in the end, and that’s why My Favorite Spy gets a 6.2 from me