With a cast that includes Kim Novak, Jim Garner, Tony Randall, Howard Duff, Howard Morris, William Bendix, Jim Backus, Patti Page, and Jessie Royce Landis (not to mention Fred Clark and Larry Keating, both of whom had played the Burns and Allen neighbor Harry Morton), Boys’ Night Out starts with lots of comic star power in its favor.
And I remember enjoying it immensely as a thirteen-year-old when it came out in 1962.
Here’s the premise:
Four men, bored with their Thursday nights out from their wives (and mom), rent a love nest in New York City, equipped with a blonde. What they don’t know is that she’s writing a postgraduate thesis on sexual fantasies of urban men.
And here’s the one scene that I remembered from watching it all those years ago. It had me in stitches then:
Alas, a recent viewing didn’t thrill me at all. It wasn’t horrible, but it couldn’t sustain the premise for the full two hours; in fact, the movie was over after about 90 minutes, which is when I stopped watching, it just didn’t realize it.
Plus, a lot of the gags just weren’t very funny. That clip that I found so hilarious 60 years ago didn’t raise a smile, although perhaps that’s because I knew what was coming.
Then there was the commuter train gag. Three times while the boys are traveling home Tony Randall tells an off color joke that is drowned out for the audience by the sound of a passing train except for the punch line (an idea stolen from North By Northwest). That got old very fast.
From what I can gather the movie didn’t do very well on its release, but it did let audiences know that Jim Garner could play light comic roles, which he proceeded to do for most of the rest of his career.
As I say, the movie isn’t horrible, but that’s mainly due to comic talents of the actors, not the script, which has only gotten staler after all these years.