(1976 TV Special)

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7/10
Old School and New Blood
docdespicable11 October 2006
Oh, how I wish this was on DVD/VHS! A couple of other reviewers found this a pretty sad affair, but I have to disagree. In some instances, for those of us who saw it as kids, it was the first experience of some of the "elder statesmen" of comedy, and getting to see them interact with some of the then-new practitioners was a particular treat.

The show opens with Vincent Price looking very sinister and mysterious in a trench coat and fedora, relating to us the facts in one the most amazing cases he's ever encountered. Hope discovers that someone has sent out invitations to a party at his house, and goes home to get to the bottom of things. What follows alternates between comic and creepy, as necessarily brief (sometimes 1 or 2 lines) appearances are divided by shots of black-gloved hands pouncing on the guests, until Hope himself is dispatched. He then delivers his sign-off with wings and a harp, calling down to Price that he'd at least like to know who done it - but before Price can reveal the killer's identity, he too is strangled. The camera then cuts to the studio audience, as the black-clad killer removes his gloves, his hat and finally his mask, revealing Johnny Carson, who delivers the punchline, "Now I can be on EVERY night..." For those too young to remember, there was a period when Carson only hosted "The Tonight Show" 2 or 3 nights out of 5, the remainder of which had a guest host, not a few of whom were "bumped off" at Hope's party!

This special wasn't a brilliant piece of timeless television art, but it had some fun moments - Les Brown and His Band of Reknown, holed up in Bob's hall closet ("You never know when you're gonna need a good music cue..."), Phil Silvers and Jerry Colonna getting in a bit of their respective character bits, and (despite other reviewers' disgruntlement to the contrary), Groucho's exchange with "Groucho"-disguised Billy Barty, "I'm paying you a lot of dough for this - I'd better be having a good time!" George Kirby gets to do a few impressions (including an amazing Eddie "Rochester" Anderson), Harry Ritz gets in his licks, and a number of actors we don't typically associate with comedy get to play for a few laughs. If I had a complaint, it was not seeing more of my favorite performers in it - Red Skelton, Jimmy Durante, Jonathan Winters,... But there wasn't really enough time to do justice to all the guests as it was.

Maybe I'm just seeing it through the golden haze of my youth, but I remember enjoying "Joys" quite a lot and wishing everyone had had a bit more screen time.
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10/10
About Groucho Marx
Tom_Barrister14 March 2010
This was Groucho's final public appearance, and he hadn't been on television since his honorary Academy Award in 1974.

Marx was showing the signs of senility as early as January of 1973, and it's noticeable in his Tonight Show appearance in May of that year. By the time the 1974 Academy Awards show came around, he was very frail and had trouble making a short speech to accept the award. Groucho's son Arthur, who was embroiled in legal battles with his father's live-in companion Erin Fleming (for which litigation continued into the mid 1980's), was cognizant of this, and out of protection for his father, he made it known that Groucho was not accepting any further offers for public appearances.

When "Joys" was being cast, Bob Hope (out of courtesy) offered Marx a role in it. Arthur Marx was opposed to the idea but relented to persuasion by both Johnny Carson (who idolized Marx) and George Burns. Burns offered to do the scene with Groucho. It was said that the shooting of this short scene took quite a while, as Marx was somewhat disoriented and had trouble concentrating. The scene is a compilation of many takes (as is evident by the different sitting positions of Marx and the slightly different positions of his cap in seemingly contiguous time). The patient Burns worked with Groucho until they had enough decent footage to patch together the minute and a half scene, and the applause and laugh track were dubbed over it later.

But even in old age and senility, you can still see some of the old Groucho. When Burns notes that nobody is getting younger, Groucho asks George how hold he is. Burns (who was pushing 80 at the time) states that he's 76. Groucho retorts "You're getting younger." We even get to see a bit of the famous Groucho leer.

To correct another review, the final comment Groucho makes to Billy Barty (who played a miniature version of him in the scene) is "Don't just stand there, mingle; I want to have a good time."

It's a tribute to Marx that he even attempted this, and while it's obvious that this isn't Groucho in his prime (nor should that be expected), it's a darned good effort nonetheless.

You can find this clip on YouTube.
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5/10
The "Joys" of cameos....
Mister-623 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Yes, as a matter of fact, I DO remember this Bob Hope special. But I never remembered its name ("Joys"? Who would have remembered that?).

Let's see, I was about 11 years-old when I first saw "Joys" on TV, so how much do I remember? Well - I remember Bob Hope (who else?) inviting multitudes of comics and comic actors to his home for some sort of party and, suddenly, they all start turning up murdered by a masked killer who leaves white gloves at the scene of the crime. Soon, Bob's house is littered with white gloves, and his swimming pool is crammed full of face-down corpses.

Funny, huh? Well, there was a laugh-track, but I was more creeped out by the goings-on than anything else. What's funny about watching Marty Allen, Foster Brooks, Don Rickles and other top comics get laid out? Wellll.... Maybe, if you were a critic?

Anyway, so Bob does what any right-thinking man would do in his case - call some TV detectives! And that he does, calling in Pepper Anderson (Dickenson), Mannix (Connors), Elery Queen (Hutton - remember him?), Kojak (Savalas), Detective Fish (Vigoda!) even pops in, all to end up in the pool with the others.

Finally, poor old Bob is left by himself in a final showdown with the killer until....

Hmmm, should I spoil this or not? Ah well, it isn't out on video. So....

SPOILER...

Bob gets killed and ends up in heaven by himself (wonder where the others went?), still trying to figure out who killed them all. Then, in a shot of the studio audience, presumably watching the special, a pan reveals the killer there, peeling off his mask to reveal...JOHNNY CARSON!! He then rolls off his only (and this show's most memorable) line: "They're all gone; now, I can do it alone!" ...END OF SPOILER

And what can I say? If you can remember a TV special decades after the fact, it must have been pretty good.

Or pretty warped.

Five stars for "Joys". And NO, I don't have this on tape.
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Groucho's pathetic farewell
"Joys" was a 1976 Bob Hope TV special: its title is meant to be a parody of "Jaws", a hot film at the time ... but "Joys" doesn't follow the plot of "Jaws", and it isn't very funny. Even the title, "Joys", isn't funny.

This TV special features plenty of Borscht Belt comedians (of Jewish extraction), and American comedy has always drawn heavily on the great legacy of Yiddish humour, so it would have been funny if this parody of 'Jaws' was called "Jews" ... but that decision would have taken some guts, and this show is dead gutless.

In "Joys", Bob Hope invites several dozen famous comedians to his house for a party. A lot of big-name talents appear very briefly in "Joys" - including Groucho Marx, George Burns, Sid Caesar, Phil Silvers and Milton Berle - but most of them have nothing funny to do. One comedian disappears, and then he turns up dead, floating face-down in Hope's pool. Then another dies, then another ... then they start dying in bunches, and all the corpses end up face-down in Hope's pool. (All of these famous comedians are playing themselves, so it's unnerving to see them getting killed off and then shown as corpses ... even though the face-down "corpses" of the famous comedians are obviously stand-ins.) Eventually, we see that a mysterious man in a domino mask is killing all the comedians. IMDb's cast list has already given away the (unfunny) killer's identity, so I shan't reveal it here. (BIG HINT: Which American showbiz personality, circa 1976, held the power of life and death over most comedians' careers?) At the end, ALL of the comedians die, and Hope's pool is chock-full o' corpses.

The most notable scene in "Joys" is Groucho Marx's very last-ever performance, and it's painfully depressing. Groucho, frail and ill, sits stiffly on a couch while midget actor Billy Barty runs around in a Groucho disguise and delivers some of Groucho's famous lines in a bad Groucho imitation. Groucho looks at Barty wistfully, and asks: "Am I having fun?" No, Groucho, you're NOT having fun, and neither are we. (Trivia note: way back in 1931, as a child actor, Billy Barty appeared with Harpo Marx in "Monkey Business". Around that same time, Barty did an outright imitation of Harpo in a Mickey McGuire short ... making Barty the only actor to imitate two different Marx Brothers four decades apart.)

"Joys" also features the last-ever performance of Bob Hope's long-time sidekick Jerry Colonna. (Colonna's last movie role, filmed before "Joys", was released a few months afterwards.) Colonna isn't in the party scenes: he does a brief bit as a man who gets a wrong-number phone call. Colonna plays his whole scene propped up in bed, and it's obvious that he's too ill to stand up.

Desi Arnaz gets lumbered with a really bad Abbott and Costello routine here. Shortly before "Joys" was televised, Arnaz had published his autobiography, which he modestly titled "A Book". In "Joys", people keep asking Desi Arnaz what his book is called: he keeps telling them "It's 'A Book'" and nobody gets it. Ha ha ha. Arnaz's thick Cuban accent doesn't add to the hilarity. Into the pool, Desi!

By far, the best sequence in "Joys" is a song performed by Harry Ritz, the leader of the Ritz Brothers. Harry Ritz had a profound influence on many American comedians (most notably Sid Caesar and Mel Brooks), and this song is Ritz's chance to acknowledge the debt. Seated at Bob Hope's piano, Ritz sings: 'Any schtick you have done, I have done sooner. You do a schtick, I'll prove I did it first.' Then he pulls faces and makes funny noises. I wish that 'Joys' had more moments like this, instead of assembling so many of history's greatest comedians and then giving them nothing to do. Some of the comedians in 'Joys' were never funny in the first place, such as the detestably smug Freddie Prinze.

'Joys' is the only-ever occasion when a Marx Brother and a Ritz Brother were in the same cast list ... but Groucho's and Harry's scenes were filmed separately.

Bob Hope's TV specials tended to offer quantity rather than quality. In 'Joys', he tries (and fails) to sweeten the deal by bringing in several crime-show actors to reprise their roles as TV detectives, including Telly Savalas as Kojak. People like Glen Campbell and Vincent Price show up briefly, for no discernible reason beyond padding the cast list.

'Joys' is a tragic waste of some major comedy talents, many of them in the twilight of their careers. If you watch this show, fast-forward to Harry Ritz's comedy song, then hit Rewind. If you love Groucho Marx, you DON'T want to see how sad and ghastly he looks in this mess.
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10/10
I enjoyed it.
ajlposh7 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The other reviews are fairly accurate. However, it's Wayne Newton that sings Rhinestone Cowboy, and Jerry Collona isn't the guy that gets the wrong number. Also, Sid Caesar isn't in it (I don't know why IMDb lists that he is). First of all, I was able to buy this on the Internet (if you want to know where, send me a private message) Unlike most of the other reviewers, I found this quite funny. It's great to watch if you love classic comedy.

The special opens with Vincent Price acting all suspicious. He explains that there is a party at Bob Hope's house. The announcer makes the introduction, and all the guests introduce themselves individually. Bob learns of the party and rushes home immediately, with Foster Brooks in tow. Surprisingly, Foster sounds drunk. Throughout the special, the comedians are seen getting strangled by a man in black, sometimes in groups, and are seen face down in the pool (they're obviously dummies). The killer leaves behind black gloves. Some of the greatest TV detectives and Arte Johnson show up to investigate. They don't play their respective detectives, but play themselves. However, they act like the detectives they play. The comedians get in some funny lines. Groucho does appear, and he does look pretty frail, but he does have good exchanges with George Burns. Don Knotts shows up and provides cue cards for people. Red Buttons does a few "never-got-a-dinner" jokes. Rona Barrett shows up from time to time and comments on the party and how all the guests disappear. Milton Berle has two roles (or at least I think he does), one as himself, and another as a woman in drag. There's even a scene where he flirts with himself. Desi Arnaz does the "A Book" routine with Charo. They also throw in a some-what dirty joke in the routine (Desi says to Charo "You bet your taco"). Abe Vigoda threatens to shoot someone.....with a banana. Sammy Cahn plays "Anything you can do I can do better," lead by Harry Ritz, with Jack Carter, Jan Murray, and Marty Allen. Harry sings lines like: "'Any shtick you have done, I have done sooner. You do a shtick, I'll prove I did it first." It's rather amusing. Wayne Newton appears and sings "Rhinestone Cowboy," accompanied by Les Brown who has himself and his band in Bob's closet. Somebody steps on Don Knotts' hand and he says "Sorry, I hope I didn't hurt your shoe." Eventually, Bob is the only one left, but then his house blows up, and he is killed. Vincent Price is about to reveal who the murderer is, then he gets killed. Bob Hope is up in heaven, and he looks at the studio audience. We see the man in black sitting in the audience. He removes his mask to reveal........Johnny Carson, who delivers the line "They're all gone. Now I get to do my show every night." Like the other reviewer said, my one complaint is seeing some other great comedians in this. I would've liked to see Sid Caesar, Jimmy Durante, Red Skelton, Jonathan Winters, Buddy Hackett, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, Jackie Vernon, Paul Lynde, Charles Nelson Reilly, George E. Jessel, Gabe Kaplan, Redd Foxx, Norm Crosby, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, Ethel Merman, Joey Bishop, Richard Pryor, some of the SNL people, and maybe even Charlie Chaplin. But still, I enjoyed this and I'd recommend it to a classic comedy fan.
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8/10
The reveal at the end of the killer was also the punchline to a joke set up on the Tonight Show
leallaw21 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Like many of the other reviewers, I was 10ish when this aired and remember it vividly and fondly. I was an avid watcher of the Tonight Show, loved Carson, and most of the regulars that appeared on his show and this special.

The final reveal of the "masked killer" was also the pay-off to a joke set up the night before on the Tonight Show hosted by Johnny Carson.

If you happened to watch that episode of Tonight Show on March 4, 1976, you would have see that Bob Hope appeared as a guest, and promoted the special. Don Rickles and Desi Arnaz were also guests that night. These 3 guests all were on Hope's Joys' special the next night. There is a point when Hope is talking about the special, and who was on it, and pointing out Desi and Don were on it, and both of them are there next to him on the guest couch, and they join in talking about how much fun it was doing the special. Johnny, in his trademark fashion, puts on a disappointed face and clearly and humorously conveys to his audience he is feeling left out by not having been on the special. Hope, without missing a beat, picks up on this, apologizes profusely to Johnny for not having him on the special, saying he didn't think to invite him, and promises he'll invite Johnny for the next one. Johnny politely says not to worry about it,with just a perfect hint of subtle, seemingly mock anger.The show then continues from there.

The next night, when Hope is the last person "killed" at his house and is seemingly addressing the audience from heaven, asks the audience if anyone knew who the masked killer was? The camera then pans up a shot of a studio audience, presumably the live one watching the special, all the way to the back row, and there sitting alone is the masked killer. The camera zooms in, the mask is removed and (SPOILER if you don't already know)...

START SPOILER It's Johnny Carson, who says words to the effect of "They're all gone, now I can be on every night." My recollection, which differs from some of the other reviewers, is that he actually made a comment about that's what you get for not inviting me, but I was 10, and it may be that 34 years later My memory of the Tonight Show gag has colored my recollection of the quote. Never the less, having watched both shows, I thought it was absolutely hilarious, and had never seen a joke carry over from one show to another like that. END SPOILER

In any event, I thought it was great seeing all these comedy legends together at once, doing bits and telling some sometimes lame jokes. Example: a group of party goers is discussing where to look for the killer, one one of them says they need to find another clue. When asked where they should look, the deadpan response is in a "Clues" closet. At which point the would be detective enters a closet door behind him, closes it leaving his 2 companions outside (I think one was Dean Martin) and the lights go out momentarily. Lights back on, they open the closet, and the detective is gone, another glove left in his place, and we cut to another shot of a swimming pool with another would be but blatantly fake looking corpse floating face down with our latest victims cloths on, increasing the floater total already present. I'm sure there were more mature jokes that went right over my head, but this silly stuff is the kind that sticks in your head at 10. I'd love to see it again. Check out youtube for the intro where the guests all introduce themselves in alphabetical order. That group of people represent some of the funniest and most popular entertainers of the time and flat out legends from the decades before.
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a memory of a bygone era
fmsteinberg24 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I enjoyed this as a child because of the numerous big stars that flashed through it, especially some that I recognised as great stars from an earlier era of broadcasting and film. It took me multiple searches to finally track down this program on IMDb. I thought it was was a Dean Martin roast or a Johnny Carson special, rather than a Bob Hope special. I finally found it by searching through Carson's filmography/appearances. My fondest memory is that among the many bodies found there was one that was hard to identify until someone found an olive in the glove and that was the giveaway that it was Dean Martin since he was presumed to have a fondness for martinis... Johnny Carson's ending cameo, sitting in the studio audience and his wry comment, 'Now I can be on every night' amused me as well. In retrospect it probably is dull because of its of parading of dozens of top stars for short interludes. I wonder how they were selected and deselected to appear in this program. It is also bizarre to see the nonchalance of the characters in the face of accumulating dead bodies. Still it is nostalgic in that it brought together, if briefly and superficially, many great stars, in a way that won't happen again.
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5/10
I remember this also...
venosf12 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I was 8 and I remember watching it that night it originally aired.

I really vividly remember Glen Campbell singing "Rhinestone Cowboy" then getting 'wacked' just after we see black gloved hands clapping for him. But I never knew what it was called. In all these years, nobody I knew could ever recall seeing it. In fact, he was the only way I found this entry. I searched Glen Campbell's name and looked for a special in the mid-70's that fit the description (pool party, murders, etc.). I forgot it was Bob Hope's special.

I remember, like all you others, Groucho also just being very old and not moving much. I do remember him saying a punch line in reference to Barty who was dressed like him. Barty ran in, stopped, and kept going. George Burns, who was sitting with him asked, referring to Barty, "Who's that?" and Groucho quipped, "Me, as a kid." I remember the pool filling up with corpses. The laugh track...

And I remember it being revealed that Carson was the 'killer' and his "on every night" line.

But I also remember this because I was 8 and at home virtually alone (just with an older sibling who loved to scare me and my parents were out) that it scared the crap outta me! I had nightmares behind this special.

Hey, I was 8. Gimmie a break...
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Huh?
samspade1-116 August 2010
Let's get something straight right off the bat: Harry Ritz BLOWS!! The ONLY thing he and his brothers EVER did was make fun of the mentally handicapped! Anybody that thinks THAT'S funny is mischugina!!! Their movies were awful...and NONE of them ever did anything funny, with the possible exception of when Al Ritz dropped dead near on-stage in Vegas.

Now that THAT'S over with, the rest of the review: Hackneyed humor that is older than Jack Albertson's hairpiece, rotten, OLD Jerry Colonna jokes that Hope had been using since the 1940s, and "schtick" with Wayne Newton, who I SWEAR was not even in the actual scenes with Bob Hope. Foster Brooks was hilarious in his two seconds on screen.

When David Jansen's the funniest thing on a show, you know you're in trouble...and yet....

Hope pulls it off. His monologue is actually FUNNY (at least in spots), and it's terrific to see Vincent Price.

Steve Allen is smooth, and funny. Angie Dickinson is Angie Dickinson, and Scatman Crothers looks like he's trying to get a date with Angie while barely being able to read his cue-cards.

The most Embarrassing MOMENT in the ENTIRE production is the sight of Harry Ritz, Marty Allen, Jan Murray, Jack Carter, and (may god forgive him, 'cause he's such a beautiful should, and such a GREAT songwriter) Sammy Cahn, all acting more than slightly retarded as they "goof off,'n fun" for the camera.

Finally they turn, sans Cahn, who at least had enough sense NOT to follow this foursome (A FOURSOME BTW WHO COULDN'T GET A LAUGH IF THEIR HAIRPIECES WERE ON FIRE), as they tightened their Borscht-belts, and walk off-stage, hopefully into a large oven to roast LIKE THE HAMS THEY ALL WERE!!! My God, did you EVER see four people try to "out-mug" each other, and fail miserably?? The four of them together looked like a corner of kids waiting for the "Lighthouse for the retarded" bus to pick them up...

Was Jan Murray EVER funny? Was Jack Carter EVER anything other than aggravating? Was Marty Allen anything other than PATHETIC? Jackie Vernon was funnier than ANY of those guys...but I digress.

If you want a great trip to nostalgia-land, get this. You'll LOVE the fact that, for two hours, you can be transported back to a time when a guy like Jack Albertson could pull up to Bob Hope, obviously read a cue-card filled with BAD humor...and still make you think you're having a good time....
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Where can we find this one?!
MartinHafer18 June 2015
I will not give this TV special a rating, as I saw it when it first debuted. This was nearly 40 years ago and I was 12--so my recollection is rather fuzzy. The problem is that I don't think it's available anywhere and I would LOVE to see it. It isn't that I remember this as being all that funny (after all, the Bob Hope specials by the 70s and 80s were a pretty dreary lot) but because of the amazing cast. The show is a who's who of the comedy greats (Groucho Marx, George Burns and Milton Berle for example), near greats and dreadfully unfunny guys (I won't go there, as some of these folks are still alive and it would be cruel to take pot shots at them). Additionally, a lot of unusual guest stars appear, such as Fred MacMurray, Rona Barrett, Don Knotts, Vince Price...and many, many more. The cast is truly amazing. What also stood out for me was how positively necrotic Groucho appeared. After all, he was quite old and died a couple years later. As a kid, I felt sad seeing him that way.

The plot is a murder mystery combined with the plot of "Jaws". I don't really recall if it was funny. I don't suspect it was. But it is worth finding for the many stars assembled in this odd TV special.
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8/10
Special Joys
captaincrunch32-11 September 2014
I only saw this once as a kid as well, but obviously it left an impression.

I found a copy of it on VHS....I believe the official title is Special Joys.

The cast included: Don Adams, Jack Albertson, Marty Allen, Steve Allen, Desi Arnaz, Billy Barty, Rona Barrett, Milton Berle, Foster Brooks, Les Brown, George Burns, Red Buttons, Pat Buttram, John Byner, Sid Caesar, Sammy Cahn, Glen Campbell, Jack Carter, Charo, Jerry Colonna, Mike Connors, Scatman Crothers, Bill Dana, Angie Dickinson, Phyllis Diller, Jamie Farr, George Gobel, Jim Hutton, David Janssen, Alan King, George Kirby, Don Knotts, Fred MacMurray, Dean Martin, Groucho Marx, Jan Murray, Wayne Newton, Vincent Price, Freddy Prinze, Don Rickles, Harry Ritz, Telly Savalas, Phil Silvers, Larry Storch, Abe Vigoda, and an uncredited villain! 90 minutes.
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Hello, He Must Be Going
upstagepro21 July 2002
Mr. MacIntyre's review is quite accurate. Groucho sits with his beret on, glassy-eyed and weak-voiced, along side George Burns, who still has a few good decades left in him. Billy Barty provides some movement, while Groucho can't even follow him with his eyes.

This is from memory. I saw the show when it was originally aired 26 years ago.
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