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HOW SWEET IT IS!(director: Jerry Paris; screenwriters: Garry Marshall/Jerry Belson/from the novel by Muriel Resnik “The Girl in the Turquoise Bikini”; cinematographer: Lucien Ballard; editor: Bud Molin; music: Pat Williams; cast: Maurice Ronet (Philippe Maspere), Debbie Reynolds (JennyHenderson), James Garner (Grif Henderson), Terry Thomas (Gilbert Tilly), Paul Lynde (The purser), Donald Losby (Davey Henderson), Gino Conforti (Agatzi), Marcel Dalio (Louis), Hilarie Thompson (Bootsie), Vito Scotti (Cook), Mary Michael (Nancy Leigh,tour guide); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: G; producers: Garry Marshall/Jerry Belson; Warner Brothers; 1968)
A tedious family drama sitcom more suited for 1950s TV than a movie.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A tedious family drama sitcom more suited for 1950s TV than a movie. The actor turned director Jerry Paris (“Make Me An Offer”/”Only With Married Men”) and the writer and producer team of Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson all are products of TV sitcoms and keep it TV witless. Muriel Resnik’s “The Girl in the Turquoise Bikini” is the novel the film is based on. It’s the kind of silly comedy where the adults act more childish than the children. Its benign premise is that the middle-aged parents, Jenny (Debbie Reynolds) and her photographer hubby Grif (James Garner), hope to spend some quality time with their long-haired hippie teen-age son Davey (Donald Losby) to better relate with him while the family vacations together. Davey has a crush on Bootsie (Hilarie Thompson), who he accompanies on an ocean-liner summer tour of Europe. Davey’s folks also make the same vacation plans. Dad plans to chaperone Davey in Europe, while mom takes a break for a month in the villa on the Riviera she rents. But she’s been swindled by the shady real estate agent (Terry Thomas), as she finds out when arriving that the villa is owned by the dashing rich French playboy Philippe Maspere (Maurice Ronet). The obliging playboy asks Jenny to stay on as his guest and she also accepts his present of a turquoise bikini. When hubby sees her in the skimpy outfit as she joins him in San Remo, he goes into a jealous rage. On the hand, she becomes jealous watching him flirt with the attractive tour guide Nancy Leigh (Mary Michael). The vacation gets more adventurous when the couple get arrested in a stolen bus after a chase through a brothel, as she ends up jailed with prostitutes. The tour guide bails Grif out, while the brothel owner (Gino Conforti) bails out Jenny with his prostitutes. In the end, the couple reconcile and all is well.Paul Lynde is his usual deliciously droll self as the ship’s purser, while Marcel Dalio provides a few chuckles as a sassy Marxist servant. However James Garner never took to the comedy and is miscast. The travelogue comedy doesn’t travel well. It’s the kind of innocuous film you can forget about even before it ends. On his TV show, Jackie Gleason had made “How sweet it is!” a popular punchline. The film’s misleading title was one reason it flopped at the box office, when the public realized it had nothing to do with Gleason and stayed away.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”