FOOLS IN THE MOUNTAINS (Fjols til fjells)

(director: Edith Calmar; screenwriters: Otto Calmar/Bias Bernhoft/play by Sverre Bævre & William Ross; cinematographer: Sverre Bævre; editor: Bjørn Breigutu; music: Maj & Gunnar Sønstevold; cast:  Leif Juster (Poppe) Unni Bernhoft (Rudolf/Ruth Granberg), Frank Robert (Teddy Winter & unnamed Professor/Ornithologist), Anne Lise Christiansen (Eva Sommer), Nanna Stenersen (Lalla),  Anne Lise Wang (Mona Miller), Einar Sissener (hotel owner Granberg),  Willie Hoel (Doctor Grey); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Otto Calmar; Calmar Films/TCM; 1957-B/W-Norway-in Norwegian with English subtitles)

Why this comedy is so popular in Norway is beyond me.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It’s based on the play by Sverre Bævre & William Ross, and is written by the director’s husband Otto Calmar and by Bias Bernhoft.

Edith Calmar (“Death Is a Caress”/”Lend Me Your Wife”) is the celebrated Norwegian woman director of one of the most popular Norwegian films of all time (she enjoys cult status in her home country as its first female director). Why this comedy is so popular in Norway is beyond me. It recently played for the first time on American TV, on TCM, where I saw it. It’s a feel-good breezy comical farce set in a ski resort in the Norwegian mountains of Hurumhei. Most of it is comprised of silly gags that turned me off, but I was impressed with the Jacques Tati clown like performance of Leif Juster– the only reason the film didn’t fall flat on its face.

It’s a one-joke comedy that squeezes all it can out of a case of mistaken identity. The famous Norwegian actor Teddy Winter (Frank Robert) is expected as a guest at the Hurumhei Hotel, but an unnamed professor (Frank Robert), an ornithologist, the spitting image of Winter, arrives first and is mistaken for him by the lengthy, face contorting receptionist, Poppe (Leif Juster). The new pageboy is Ruth Granberg (Unni Bernhoft), the daughter of the hotel owner (Einar Sissener), who wishes to show her father that she’s not a spoiled child and in secret becomes the pageboy by taking the name Rudolph and pretending to be a boy, thereby helping the understaffed hotel that’s run remotely by her father (he never has seen Poppe).

Throughout this cornball lightweight farce, directed with a heavy hand, Poppe can’t comprehend that the two lookalikes are different people and thinks they are one and the same person. All the gags are built around that premise, so in one case Eva Sommer (Anne Lise Christiansen), a resort guest, who is anxious to meet the fun-loving actor but by mistake is instead coupled off with the reserved owl lover.

If you might have found this case of mistaken identity funny at first, after an hour or so of bad mistaken identity gags the comedy becomes just plain idiotic.

REVIEWED ON 12/5/2020  GRADE: C+