John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!: (116 Min)
Directed by: Jay Roach
Perhaps one of the great beauties of Videotapes, DVD, Netflicks, Cable TV, and the Internet is that if there is an old TV show or movie that you haven’t seen since you were a kid, or never saw, the odds are better than even that you’ll be able to find it somewhere and watch it again. Such is the case for us when we recently discovered one of our all-time favorite guilty pleasure films, John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! (on, of all places, You Tube). This 1965 darkly comedic screwball comedy was a Cold War spoof which was inspired by the shooting down in May of 1960 of CIA operative Francis Gary Powers U-2 spy plane over the Soviet Union.
The incident sparked an international diplomatic incident, and resulted in the book (written by none other than William Peter Blatty, who would alter go on to write The Exorcist). Blatty’s story (in both the book and the film) concerns John “Wrong-Way” Goldfarb (Crenna), a former college football star who once ran 95 yards for a touchdown in the wrong direction. Goldfarb, now a U-2 pilot, was supposed to be flying his plane over Russia, only it malfunctions and crashes in the mythical Arab kingdom of Fawzia (Saudi Arabia). When he is discovered, the country’s leader, King Fawz (Ustinov) threatens to turn him over to the Soviets unless he agrees to coach a football team, staring his son as QB) against Notre Dame (which kicked the kid off the team so they could be an all Irish team).
Meanwhile, Jenny Ericson (MacLaine) — who, incidentally, is the magazine journalist who made Goldfarb famous, is on an undercover assignment as a member of the King’s harem, to expose what it is really like inside a harem. However, when she discovers that the King is still quite capable “romantic engagements” she freaks out and attempts to bolt from her assignment so she won’t get tapped by the King. Before she does, she runs into Goldfarb and gets him to pick her as his chosen concubine for the length of his stay in order to stay out of the clutched of the loony, and very amorous), King.
Near as we can determine, we first saw this film on TV circa 1965, and immediately fell in love with MacLaine whose über-skinny body and china-doll completion was adorned with the skimpiest of outfits throughout most of the film. Watching the film as an adult, we found ourself still enjoying the film, but realizing that the way that Arabs (especially the King), and women were treated throughout was something of a creature of the times. Still, the film was chock-block full of very recognizable stars, including Wilfrid Hyde-White, Jim Backus, Richard Deacon, Charles Lane, Jerry Orbach, Jackie Coogan, James Brolin, Teri Garr, Kent McCord, Carl Reiner, and Telly Savalas. Watching all of these characters (many of whom were in monor and/or uncredited roles, and none of whom we actually knew at the time we initially watched the film), was pure delight.
If you never saw the film, or saw it but not in the past 30 or 40 years (like us), then you’ll want to catch it online, and enjoy what comedy looked like in a much simpler era.
Robert J. Sodaro has been writing professionally for some 30+ years. He came of age not only watching TV, but reading comicbooks and going to the movies. Subscribe to receive regular articles and reviews about TV programs.