Boeing Boeing American playboy Bernard Lawrence has cleverly designed a system using the airline timetables to keep going three affairs with flight stewardesses. However, his life soon starts to descend into a shambles after the arrival of a friend, Robert Reed, and a dreaded change to the flight order, whereby it becomes increasingly difficult to keep his three fiancées apart. They don’t need a housekeeper. They need a scorekeeper!
French bedroom farce, American style
1965’s “Boeing Boeing” is a dated but mildly amusing film starring Tony Curtis, Thelma Ritter, Jerry Lewis and Dany Saval. Curtis is a swinging bachelor living in Paris who is juggling three flight attendants at one time, all of whom live with him, and all of them are his fiancees. He’s able to do this with the help of his able housekeeper (Ritter) and his carefully worked-out airline schedules. Unfortunately, the new fast planes are goofing up the schedules. Adding to the confusion is a visit by his friend Robert (Lewis), a reporter. The two men and an exhausted Ritter try to keep the women from running into one another at the apartment as their arrivals overlap.
“Boeing Boeing” was originally a play that had a very brief run on Broadway in the 1960’s and went on to become the mainstay of dinner theaters throughout the U.S. After a very successful run in London, it has recently been revived on Broadway starring Christine Baranski as the maid, Bradley Whitford in the Tony Curtis role, Gina Gershon as an Italian flight attendant and Maureen McCormack as a German one. Not having seen the original play, it’s hard to know what if anything in the film was changed from the play. In the current Broadway production, the Jerry Lewis character, done to great acclaim on both continents by Mark Rylance, is totally different – he’s a shlub who’s never seen a woman before. Lewis would have been perfect playing it that way – instead, in the film, the character of Robert is very against type, quite serious. The handsome Curtis does comedy well and is a perfect playboy. Baranski currently does the Ritter role with a French accent, which wrecks most of the dry humor that Baranski, like Ritter, brings to a role. Ritter is very funny as she changes the photograph on the desk, cooks sauerkraut for the German flight attendant, tosses it when the French flight attendant arrives and makes a soufflé instead and basically wears herself out.
“Boeing Boeing” is pleasant and fun to watch as an example of that great comedy form, the farce.