Cast & Crew
Immediately after his boxing protegé, Bullet Bradley, wins a championship bout, trainer and ladies man Wally Hogan receives word that Bullet has been drafted. Bullet's career is controlled by mobsters Vic and Babe Breck, and when the Brecks ask Wally to enlist in order to keep an eye on the highistrung Bullet, Wally reluctantly agrees. At the Army recruiting station, Wally passes the physical and is sworn in, then learns that Bullet has been declared psychologically unfit. Realizing that the Brecks have set him up and want to be rid of him, Wally angrily vows to find another champion to beat Bullet. Later, on the train to Camp Ashton, Wally meets singer Connie Curtis, who asks Wally's by-the-book training officer, Karl Danzig, for permission to speak with one of the recruits. After Danzig refuses Connie's request, citing Army regulations, Wally uses recruit Herbert Tuttle, a diminutive would-be boxer, to distract Danzig so that he can sneak off and find her. Connie is unimpressed with Wally's flirtations, however, and reveals her hatred of boxing. Upon arriving at Camp Ashton, Danzig reports Wally and Herbert to his superior, who suggests that the wayward recruits join Danzig and become MPs. Wally at first balks at the idea, but changes his mind when he realizes that MPs have easy access to nightclubs and women. Wally and Herbert pass their MP training course, and during their first patrol, stop by the Pink Owl, a club owned by Connie. There, Wally is shocked to learn that Herbert is Connie's nephew. Connie warns Wally not to encourage Herbert's boxing ambitions, and anxious to make a good impression, Wally agrees. Danzig then catches Wally singing and dancing with Connie and orders him to dig ditches as punishment. After Wally tricks the gullible Herbert into digging for him, he is besieged by reporters, who ask him the identity of his new protegé. Before Wally can answer, Herbert pops up from the ditch and declares that he is Wally's next champion. Later, after the interview is published, Herbert is asked to fight Navy boxer Art Aragon. Although Herbert informs Danzig that Wally does not want him to fight because of Connie, Danzig insists that the match go on. During the bout, which takes place on Aragon's battleship, Wally is overcome with seasickness and cannot guide the neophyte Herbert. Herbert quickly loses the fight, on which heavy bets were made, and at the Pink Owl, Connie hears a soldier accuse Herbert of taking a dive and instigates a brawl. Wally breaks up the melee, then is ordered by Danzig to post an "off limits" sign on the Pink Owl. Not wanting to hurt Connie, who is angry at him for encouraging Herbert's boxing, Wally instead goes AWOL. Wally hides out at a boxing arena, where one of Danzig's men is scheduled to fight, and contacts Herbert, who calls Connie and tells her why Wally went AWOL. While protecting Wally, Herbert then accidentally knocks out Danzig's fighter and decides to go on for him, despite the boos of the crowd. Connie rushes to the arena and begs Wally to stop the bout, but he compulsively yells instructions to Herbert on how to win. After Herbert knocks out his opponent, Danzig finally catches Wally and punishes him with KP duty. Wally then is allowed to train Herbert in earnest, and Wally and the featherweight soon earn the right to fight Bullet and are blessed by Connie. The Brecks realize that Wally will be able to anticipate Bullet's moves, so they follow him as he drives Herbert and Danzig to a meeting, then intimidate him in front of Connie. Urged by Connie to stand up to the thugs, Wally wrecks what he believes is the Brecks's sedan, only to find out later that he has destroyed a general's car. Wally is jailed, but tricks his way out and arrives with Connie at the boxing arena just as Herbert's bout with Bullet is about to start. Hunted by his fellow MPs as well as the mobsters, Wally goes to a nearby bar to communicate with Herbert using walkie-talkies. Following Wally's instructions, Herbert takes control of the bout, and after the Brecks make one last attempt at silencing him, Wally directs Herbert to deliver the knockout punch. Later, in a train compartment, the just married Wally and Connie are joined by Danzig, who tries to recall Army regulations regarding honeymoons.
Billy "rusty" Nelson
Jimmy C. Ross
William R. Klein
William E. Van Gelder
Chester A. Hayes
William F. Neff
Joseph J. Lilley
J. Peverell Marley
Major John T. Merrill
John M. Trudeau
Off Limits - Bob Hope & Mickey Rooney in the 1943 Service Comedy - OFF LIMITS
The script by Hal Kanter and Jack Sher provides a strong story foundation for the comedy. Boxing impresario and ladies' man Wally Hogan (Hope) has been managing and training various Palookas for years, and has finally lucked onto a winner in Bullets Bradley (Stanley Clements). But when Bullets is drafted, Wally's partner Vic Breck (Marvin Miller) talks Wally into enlisting alongside the boxer, to protect their investment. Then Bullets is rejected for medical reasons, and Wally realizes that he's been cruelly tricked: he can't un-enlist himself, and is stuck doing a tour of duty. He volunteers for Military Police (MP) duty under the dutiful and stern Sgt. Karl Danzig (Eddie Mayehoff of How to Murder Your Wife). Not permitted to fraternize with female officers, Wally takes a shine to nightclub singer Connie Curtis (Marilyn Maxwell). She's the aunt of his MP partner Herbert Tuttle (Mickey Rooney), an aspiring boxer who wants Wally to train him. Connie doesn't want Herbert to fight, but a wave of publicity forces Wally to put the young man in the ring. Herbert does well under Wally's direct coaching, but loses a bout on a Navy ship when Wally becomes seasick and passes out - Herbert needs Wallly's moment-by-moment guidance during fights. The feisty Herbert makes a comeback in a winning streak that pairs him against the champion -- civilian Bullets Bradley. Realizing that his former partner knows all of Bullets' moves and weaknesses, Vic Breck and his goons threaten Wally. But Wally's own misadventures get him thrown in the stockade, leaving Herbert defenseless for the big fight.
Off Limits is a fine-tuned the Bob Hope comedy vehicle. Hope is best when playing within a light comedy framework, as with his Paramount Damon Runyon adaptations and haunted house spoofs. Hope's Wally Hogan is an expert boxing manager who inadvertently signs up for the Army, which permits comedy from both genres. As a beloved USO entertainer for troops overseas, Hope is particularly good as a reluctant draftee. Wally Hogan is also a hopeless lover boy, as established early on in Bullets Bradley's big fight when a half-dozen girls show up at ringside. All of them have dates with Wally and two or three are engaged to him. The ensuing catfight in the bleachers is more spectacular than the boxing match up in the ring.
Early press releases listed comic actor Alan Young as playing the role that eventually went to Mickey Rooney. Off Limits became Rooney's first "second banana" supporting role picture since leaving MGM as a top star a couple of years earlier. Considered a troublemaker after some run-ins with the studio brass, Rooney expressed gratitude for Hope's support: "Hope knew I would be good in the role and he insisted on me. I never forgot that." Rooney is an energetic marvel as the hopeful pugilist Herbert Tuttle, hitting all the dramatic notes while modulating his comic performance so as not to upstage Hope's Top Banana. The two do quite well singing, "It's Great To Be a Military Policeman" while patrolling on duty with helmets and white gloves. In one amusing gag, a medic shines a light into Herbert Tuttle's ear, and Wally notes that the light beam continues out the other side of his head. Rooney does his part, just sitting and asking what's going on, while Bob Hope gets to do the broad double-takes.
The cheerful Marilyn Maxwell entertains servicemen with her own song, "All About Love", before a brawl forces Wally to put her club Off Limits to military personnel. Funny-faced Eddie Mayehoff begins as a stern drill sergeant but eventually befriends his maladroit MPs, doing his best to keep Wally out of the stockade. Even he can't help Wally after the film's comedy chase sequence. Echoing Laurel & Hardy's silent comedy Big Business, Wally utterly destroys a general's new staff car, thinking that it belongs to the hood Vic Breck. Wally and Connie then lead half the Army on a car chase (filmed in Culver City), convinced that gangsters are pursuing them.
Veteran director George Marshall (Fancy Pants) maintains the comedic pace and gives the boxing scenes special attention -- the characters are funny but the fights are mostly played straight. The legendary Johnny Indrisano is the film's technical director in the ring, while champion Jack Dempsey plays a referee. Football great Tom Harmon and popular boxer Art Aragon play themselves. For one screen fight "Golden Boy" Aragon pretends to be knocked out by Mickey Rooney's character.
Off Limits also features bit appearances by three of Hollywood's most beautiful starlets. Joan Taylor (On Dangerous Ground) and new Paramount contractee Carolyn Jones (The Bachelor Party) slug it out fighting over Wally in the first boxing scene. Gorgeous Mary Murphy (The Wild One) is a WAC who flips Wally over her shoulder when he makes advances. Also appearing in fleeting bits or glimpsed in the margins are Alvy Moore, Tom Dugan and Charles Bronson. The 7-foot 7-inch sailor seen outside Connie's nightclub is Lock Martin, who played Gort in The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Olive Films' DVD of Off Limits is an excellent transfer of this all-but-forgotten B&W Bob Hope romp, which looks as if it hasn't been out of the can since it was new. Both sound and picture are excellent.
The on-screen title is "Military Policemen", which was replaced as the film's title after the movie was trade-shown and just before the release. Reviewers found the film funny, applauded the comic duo of Hope and Rooney and singled out the comic performance of Eddie Mayehoff for special attention.
Bob Hope fans looking for his expected joke at Bing Crosby's expense are given a great example in Off Limits. Locked out of the sports arena for the climactic prizefight, Wally coaches Hubert by walkie-talkie from the bar across the street, monitoring the bout on the bar's TV set. The reception is interrupted by a burst of static, and when Wally leaps up to adjust the set, he tunes in momentarily to a close-up of Bing Crosby, singing a song. Hope then delivers a perfect deadpan aside to the camera: "More static!"
For more information about Off Limits, visit Olive Films. To order Off Limits, go to TCM Shopping.
by Glenn Erickson
Off Limits - Bob Hope & Mickey Rooney in the 1943 Service Comedy - OFF LIMITS
The working title of this film was Military Policemen. In some news items, the working title is listed as Military Policeman. During the final bar scene, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope's frequent co-star, is seen briefly, singing on the bar's television set. According to a September 1951 ParNews item, Alan Young was to co-star with Hope in the picture. In addition to retired champion boxer Jack Dempsey, the film features Art Aragon, a popular Southern California boxer. Orchestra leader and vocalist Nuzzy Marcellino dubbed "wolf-whistles" for the picture, according to Paramount press information, included in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library.
Publicity also notes that the Provost Marshal General's office in Washington, D.C. gave Mickey Rooney special permission to depict an MP, even though the minimum height requirement was 5'7" and Rooney was only 5'3". Rooney wore his World War II uniform in the film, according to publicity. Hollywood Reporter news items add Dave Gallardo, Jack McCoy, Pat Quinn, Society Kid Hogan, Edith Sheets, Joan Arnold, Louise Saraydar, Virginia Leith and Joan Whitney to the cast. Their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
Released in United States Spring April 1953
Released in United States Spring April 1953