Call Me Bwana

Its flimsiest of plots posits that a moon probe has accidentally
crash-landed among the dangerous Ekele tribe in Africa, and the
Americans need to nab it before it falls into the hands of another
nation. The U.S. government calls upon Matthew Merriwether (Hope), a
published expert on the continent who claims to have shaken hands with
every tsetse fly there and whose book boasts of encounters with the
“vicious spotted elephant.”

Naturally, he’s a fraud and has to bumble his way through the mission,
relying on service-station maps of the jungle terrain, where he takes a
shotgun to a tarantula and also finds himself in situations with lions,
chimps, zebras, elephants and Arnold Palmer as himself, for an extended
golfing sequence that’s as in-jokey as any from a Hope vehicle.

Here, he once again plays his standard, likable skirt-chasing cad, this
time allowing his little club to point him toward the curvy form of
Anita Ekberg. How Swede she is, but they were better served by “Paris
Holiday” five years earlier. The onscreen highlight between them is when
she insists on sewing his torn trousers, not knowing she’s doing so
with a cyanide-tipped needle that would mean instant death. (The
offscreen highlight between them suggests they’ve
just boinked on live TV.)

For Hope’s fans, all is well, assuming the slightly un-PC race jokes
don’t offend, but Abbott and Costello’s “Africa Screams” did the animal
slapstick better. —Rod Lott

Rod Lott

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