Before he became the face of senior abuse, Mickey Rooney was the biggest star in movies. His MGM studio fame came from the Andy Hardy comedy series and musicals with Judy Garland. In his youth, he had few peers. He matured, but remained stuck in his 5’2″ boyish frame. Roles seemed tough to fit his stature and size. Luckily for him, he found a meaty role in Bob Hope’s Off Limits. The comedy mixes the boxing and military genre for an enjoyable blend of stiff upper lips and glass jaws.
Bob Hope is a boxing manager having the night of his life. His “Bullets” Bradley (Stanley Clements) is in a featherweight title bout. The only thing dooming the evening is Bob’s numerous girlfriends showing up in the stands. They think if Bullets gets the title, they’ll be married to Bob since that’s been his promise. Bob might not be in the ring, but he’s a heavyweight player. The women stwap blows better than the guys in the ring. Luckily Hope’s man wins the belt so he can duck out of the female melee. The celebration in the locker room hits a snag when the Bullets gets his draft notice. While this might sound outrageous, years later Muhammad Ali was drafted while the heavyweight boxing champ. Instead of letting Bullets join the army solo, the fighter’s other backers want Bob to enlist. This way their investment can keep in shape while serving his two year stint. Bob sees this a good way to duck his army of fiances. The plan goes horribly wrong when Bullets is rejected because he’s a bit of a nutjob. Bob wants to quit, but it’s too late. He’s in the army now. He’s no longer Bullet’s manager. Things are looking bleak for the comic icon as he prepares for a life on Army time.
Mickey Rooney is part of Bob’s military police unit. He has a little background as a featherweight fighter and wants Bob to help him make the step up. Bob sees Mickey as the key to getting back in the fight game. He hypes him as being better than Bullets. Their first bout is a disaster when Mickey fights on an extremely rocking battleship. Bob is no help as his glass stomach erupts. It gets nasty. Bob can’t alienate Mickey cause the fighting MP’s aunt is the sexy Marilyn Maxwell. She runs a nightclub that they patrol. This love connection pays off when Mickey is able to line up a fight with the champ. There’s plenty of cutthroat moments to keep Bob from being in Mickey’s corner. The climax includes a cameo from Bing Crosby.
Off Limits was the only time Mickey and Bob worked together in a film. This is a shame since the duo have a good screen vibe. Mickey plays his plucky character while Bob knocks around comic quips. They don’t step on each other or turn it into a comic slugfest. While this might not be a heavyweight title for either Bob or Mickey, Off Limits is more than enjoyable with comic lines that connect. Shame Mickey is now testifying to senior abuse since he had good moves in the ring.
The video is 1.33:1. The black and white transfer is solid. The print is from England since it features the title Military Policemen. That sounds like an army educational film title. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The mix is fine for the sounds of gloves popping on faces.
Off Limits brings together Bob Hope and Mickey Rooney in a comic boxing movie that features military humor. The duo work fine together as the manager and fighter hoping to get in the game while still working for Uncle Sam.
Olive Films presents Off Limits Directed by: George Marshall. Starring Bob Hope, Mickey Rooney and Marilyn Maxwell. Running time: 89 minutes. Released on DVD: March 8, 2011.
Tags: Bob Hope, Boxing, Mickey Rooney