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THE MALTESE BIPPY

   

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, June 5, 2015

Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello, Martin & Lewis, Cheech & Chong … popular comedy duos starring in hit movies is, sadly, a thing of the past.

The world has changed, movies have changed and certainly comedy venues have changed.

And such pairings in multiple films as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, Adam Sandler and Kevin James, Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan, etc., aren’t really comedy teams as such. Rather, each person listed here is a lone actor paired with the other actor for a few films. Not the same thing.

But there have been lots of contenders — Olsen & Johnson, Brown & Carney, Noonan & Marshall and Allen & Rossi, among others, starred in their own movies, but there’s a reason you don’t know who they are.

  

       Carol Lynley, Dick Martin, 'The Maltese Bippy'

Then there’s Rowan & Martin. Dan Rowan & Dick Martin were the stars of the enormously popular late-’60s/early-’70s blackout-comedy TV series “Laugh-In,” stardom they achieved after years on the nightclub circuit and guesting on TV variety shows, where they gained popularity for their off-center comedy routines.

They made two bids for movie stardom — a decade apart. But neither film impressed critics or moviegoers.

The first was “Once Upon a Horse” (1958, b/w), an amusing off-the-wall Western spoof that has some good laughs, and the second was “The Maltese Bippy” (1969, G), an attempt to cash in on their “Laugh-In” success (“bippy” was a catch-word from the show).

“Once Upon a Horse” remains out of circulation but “The Maltese Bippy” has just been released on DVD in a good-looking widescreen transfer by Warner Archive, the burn-on-demand website.

Unfortunately, “The Maltese Bippy” is a disappointment now, just as it was in 1969. A haunted house spoof — a genre that was tired even then — the film has the boys moving into a gothic mansion next to a cemetery and attacks begin occurring that are apparently the work of a werewolf.

  

Interesting for its supporting cast — Carol Lynley, Julie Newmar and Mildred Natwick — the film isn’t very funny, and it’s also quite slow.

Still, there may be a baby-boomer Rowan & Martin contingent out there that remembers the film fondly from their youth.

If so, you can take advantage of the fact that it’s finally on home video for the first time.