Bon Voyage! (1962)

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You’d think a film about a family taking a vacation to Europe would be an interesting film to watch. If this were the film in question, you’d be wrong. Nevertheless, we must go through with it. Here’s my review of the James Neilson-directed Bon Voyage!.

And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!

The beginning of the film isn’t a super disappointment as we’re treated to a title song number written by the Sherman Brothers as the credits roll! It’s not one of the Sherman Brothers’ best, but I’ll take it.

Travelling like true Americans!

After the song ends, we’re introduced to our main characters, the Willards. Harry Willard, played by Fred MacMurray, works in the plumbing business in Terre Haute, Indiana. He’s in love with and devoted to his wife of many years, Katie Willard, played by Jane Wyman. Katie is from a higher social standing than Harry, but she didn’t care about that at all when she married him.

They have three children together: teenagers Elliott and Amy, played by Tommy Kirk and Deborah Walley, respectively, and the younger Skipper, played by Kevin Corcoran.

Feeling cute…might delete later…

They all are headed on a cruise ship to Paris, a journey that Mrs. Willard’s always wanted to do, but had to keep postponing over the years. But now the time is right for them to join the hundreds of other tourists aboard the cruise ship to Paris!

Disney product placement at 3 o’clock!

It’s not long before we realize that the entire movie is basically Mr. Willard dealing with familial problems. Aboard the cruise ship, he has to cheer Elliot up who wasn’t too fond about going on a cruise in the first place. Then later, he has to prevent Elliot from enjoying the cruise too much by getting involved with girls. He also has to deal with Amy falling in love with a young man named Nick O’Mara, played by Michael Callan, who doesn’t believe in marriage as well as having to spend more time playing with young Skipper.

Eventually, they arrive in Paris and appreciate where they are, even young Skipper.

“He was the pig who took over that farm once, right?”

Sadly, arriving in Paris doesn’t make the problems go away for Mr. Willard! He still has to prevent Elliot from wooing girls by pretending to be someone he’s not. And Mr. Willard even gets lost in the underground Parisian sewers after young Skipper begged him to take him there rather than the “Louv-er”!

Mr. Willard also has to deal with Nick O’Hara. Nick’s the son of wealthy socialite parents, but has rebellious views about marriage, money, etc. These views drive a wedge in his and Amy’s relationship.

“Damn”?! I’m very surprised that Walt Disney allowed a “damn” to appear in one of his films! People say that The Black Hole was the first Disney film to feature language, but they seem to forget about this one…and I can’t blame them!

Nevertheless, Nick tries to make it work with Amy and invites the Willards to a fancy party that his mother is hosting there. It’s here where Mr. Willard encounters another problem: Rudolph Hunschak, played by Ivan Desny. Mr. Hunschak is a man infamous for having affairs with married women and sets his eyes on Mrs. Willard. This causes Mr. Willard to get envious and even leads to a big argument between him and his wife. Mrs. Willard tries to explain to her husband that she doesn’t care for Mr. Hunschak at all, but Mr. Willard lets his envy get in the way.

And people complained about The Hunchback of Notre Dame! This movie’s really milking the “damnations”!

The next day, Mr. and Mrs. Willard seem to have miraculously made up, but Mr. Willard still doesn’t like Mr. Hunschak. It’s not long after though that he lets Mr. Hunschak have it by punching him rendering him unconscious!

The film ends with Nick breaking up with Amy as she deserves better than him, Elliott leaving girls to spend his last days in Paris with his siblings, and Mr. and Mrs. Willard still in love with each other after all these years!

“I loved the way you slugged Mr. Hunschak, darling!”
“I’d have been more violent, dear, but this isn’t Double Indemnity!”

And that was Bon Voyage!. Yeah…there’s not much of a story as you can tell. The writing is just so sloppy that at some times it seems that Mr. Willard is dealing with multiple problems while at other times it seems to suggest that Mr. Willard’s jealousy of Mr. Hunschak was the main plot of the movie all along! It’s also surprisingly seemingly inappropriate for a 1962 Disney film with the whole cheating suspicion subplot and the use of the word, “damn”.

This is something that would probably have been better had it been a television series and had the writing been much better! The acting by Fred MacMurray and Jane Wyman is remarkable and the Sherman Brothers song isn’t bad. Besides that, there’s not much else to praise about this film. Let’s all just bid bon voyage to this film!

So, my final score for this film is 19/35 = 54.29% (F) !

The next review will be posted on May 21, 2019.

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