For decades Bob Hope was one of Hollywood's most bankable stars. In the 1940s and 1950s, his films were regarded as sure-fire moneymakers. Studios loved Hope productions. They were generally filmed on modest budgets and returned major profits. By the late 1960s, Hope was still very much in-demand on American television. His TV specials for NBC always topped the ratings and Hope was a ubiquitous presence on TV chat shows. He even had a semi-permanent gig as the most beloved of all hosts for the annual Oscars broadcast. However, his status in the motion picture industry had diminished substantially. Hope's style of old-fashioned family films was becoming outdated in an era that saw new freedoms in on-screen sex and violence. When biker movies were depicting gang bangs and Bob and Carol were under the same sheets with Ted and Alice, Hope's sitcom-like comedies seemed as though they were from distant past. One of his more promising feature films was the 1969 production, "How to Commit Marriage", one of many sex-oriented comedies that were all the rage in the mid-to-late 1960s. (i.e. "The Secret Life of an American Wife", Divorce American Style", "A Guide for the Married Man", "The Tiger Makes Out", "How to Save a Marriage (and Ruin Your Life)", "Marriage on the Rocks".) In an attempt to remain relevant to modern audiences, this was the most adult-themed of Hope's big screen comedies.
Hope plays Frank Benson, a wealthy L.A. real estate agent who seems to have an idyllic life with his wife of many years, Elaine (Jane Wyman). However, their relationship is fracturing and the two spend most of their time together griping about the other and trading cruel insults. They agree to get a divorce and file the necessary paperwork. However, before they can be officially divorced, they receive a surprise visit from their teenage daughter Nancy (JoAnna Cameron), who returns from college with her new boyfriend David (Tim Matheson). He's a clean-cut type who is studying classical music and Nancy announces they intend to marry, largely because she has been so inspired by her parent's loving relationship. Frank and Elaine don't want Nancy to become disillusioned and decide to withhold the news about their pending divorce until after Nancy and David marry. However, there is a complication: David is the estranged son of Oliver Poe (Jackie Gleason), a rich promoter of rock 'n roll bands who resents Frank for selling him a Malibu mansion that was in a mudslide zone, thus resulting in Oliver losing his entire investment. He's an obnoxious boor and braggart with a sexy mistress (Tina Louise) and when he discovers the Bensons are secretly planning to divorce, he cruelly informs Nancy and David. Heartbroken and disillusioned, the young couple decides to eschew marriage and simply live together (still a shocking concept for a "nice" girl in 1969). Making matter worse, Oliver convinces the couple to quit college and join his latest band, The Comfortable Armchair, which is becoming all the rage. Distraught by the developments, Frank and Elaine begin to live in separate houses. Frank takes up with Lois Gray (Maureen Arthur), a voluptuous widow while Elaine begins dating Phil Fletcher (Leslie Nielsen), a suave rival of Frank's in the real estate trade. When both couples accidentally end up sitting beside each other at a Comfortable Armchair nightclub concert, they notice that Nancy is very obviously pregnant. They also discover that she and David have become disciples of a con-man posing as a guru named The Baba Ziba (Professor Irwin Corey). Oliver has bribed Baba Ziba to convince Nancy and David that it is in their spiritual interests to put their baby up for adoption. In reality, Oliver is motivated by his desire that the couple stay with the successful rock band and not become traditional parents.