Bing Crosby an Bob Hope star in the first of the 'Road to' movies as two playboys trying to forget previous romances in Singapore - until they meet Dorothy Lamour...
The first "Road" picture remains, in my opinion, about the best. While there's not quite as much zaniness as the rest of the films in the series, there is a solid story, and a surprisingly good bit of acting by Bob Hope in the film's more serious scenes. Plus the soundtrack has a lot of entertaining music to offer, especially "You're Too Romantic." Lots of fun from beginning to end!
* After Fred MacMurray and 'George Burns (I)' turned down the chance to make this film, producer Harlan Thompson offered it to 'Bob Hope' and Bing Crosby, whom he'd seen clowning on the Paramount lot and who it seemed to him got along well.
* Originally written as "Beach of Dreams" for 'George Burns (I)' and Gracie Allen. Later retitled "Road to Mandalay" for Fred MacMurray and Jack Oakie before receiving its final title and cast.
* The soap suds used for Ace Lannigan's stain removing product Spot-O were special heavy duty suds created by the prop department to hold up under the hot lights.
* During a lunch break, 'Bob Hope' threw a handful of the soap suds at Dorothy Lamour and soon Bing Crosby became involved. The fight ended when Lamour cornered Hope and Crosby and threw all she had at them. The director was not particularly pleased because it would take hours to repair their hair, makeup, and clothing.
Bing Crosby ... Joshua 'Josh' Mallon V
Dorothy Lamour ... Mima
Bob Hope ... Ace Lannigan
Charles Coburn ... Joshua Mallon IV
Judith Barrett ... Gloria Wycott
Anthony Quinn ... Caesar
Jerry Colonna ... Achilles Bombanassa
Chuck and his pal Fearless flee a South African carnival when their sideshow causes a fire. After several similar escapades, they've finally saved enough to return to the USA, when Chuck spends it all on a "lost" diamond mine. But that's only the beginning; before long, a pair of attractive con-women have tricked our heroes into financing a comic safari, featuring numerous burlesque jungle adventures...
A previous reviewer said something interesting about this second Road picture being a satire on all those Hollywood jungle epics. A pet peeve of mine has always been that American's concepts of Africa came out of those films. We were not in the imperialist game in Africa which was good, but we also knew nothing about these people, their politics and culture, and in some respects we're paying for that ignorance.
That being said, I can't hold up Road to Zanzibar for that kind of criticism. It's a comedy and a funny one. With the success of the Road to Singapore and the obvious chemistry between Bob and Bing, the boys could now unload their monkeyshines on the audience full blast.
This film marked the beginning of a long association between composer James Van Heusen and Bing Crosby. Van Heusen was replacing Jimmy Monaco as partner to Johnny Burke, lyricist, and this was the first of many Crosby films they would score.
And the songs followed the usual Road picture pattern. Bing starts the movie off by singing You Lucky People You under the opening credits and continuing it in the opening scene at a carnival sideshow, a nice patented Crosby philosophical number. Dotty sings You're Dangerous while trying to vamp Hope the schnook. But then Bing croons to Dotty It's Always You another ballad and finally Hope and Crosby have a patter number Birds of a Feather sung in up tempo as the law is closing in. In that same scene is Eric Blore, better known for Fred Astaire films and he contributes to the clowning with a nice touch.
In a sense this is the first real Road picture because Singapore didn't have a lot of the spontaneity the others do because no one figured it would be such a hit. So get out and hit the Road.
* Originally, this film was not supposed to be a sequel to Road to Singapore (1940); in fact, Bing Crosby and 'Bob Hope' were not even supposed to be in it. The film was first offered to Fred MacMurray and George Burns, who both rejected it. While assembling a list of contract Paramount stars to offer it to, someone at the studio remembered that "Road to Singapore" had done relatively well, and Hope and Crosby "seemed to work well together", so it was offered to them. The rest, as they say, is history.
Bing Crosby ... Chuck Reardon
Bob Hope ... Hubert 'Fearless' Frazier
Dorothy Lamour ... Donna Latour
Una Merkel ... Julia Quimby
Eric Blore ... Charles Kimble
Douglass Dumbrille ... Slave trader
Iris Adrian ... French soubrette in cafe
Lionel Royce ... Monsieur Lebec
Jeff and Turkey, two wild and crazy guys adrift on a raft in the Mediterranean, are cast away on a desert shore and hop a convenient camel to an Arabian Nights city where Turkey soon finds himself sold as a slave...to luscious Princess Shalmar of Karameesh. Naturally, Jeff would like to rescue Turkey from this "dire" fate, even if it means taking his place! But they haven't figured on virile desert chieftain Mullay Kassim, who has designs on the princess himself...
Another enjoyable 'Road Show! One of my Favorites.
Crosby and Hope are at their best in this one. Watch for the scene where Hope mimics a starving beggar in the street, its especially entertaining. No matter what Hope tries in the 'Road Shows' he is always foiled, with Crosby always the cool, smooth operator. Anthony Quinn does a superb performance as the domineering Sheik in this light hearted comedy, playing funny scenes as a straight man. Dorothy Lamour as the 'damsel in distress' is as Lovely as ever.
Hope and Crosby are a delightful team, their playful banter and comedic timing are on the money with this one. This is a 'Must See' comedy!
* The scene where the camel spits in Turkey's (Bob Hope's) face wasn't planned. The camel did it of its own accord while the cameras were rolling, and Hope's recoil and Bing Crosby's reaction were so funny that it was left in the final cut of the film.
* This film was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1996.
* For use in this film, Paramount bought comedy routines originally written by Ralph Spence for his story "From Rags to Rhythm."
* Paramount shot two endings for the film. The one not used had Hope and Crosby enlisting in the Marines and ended with the line "See you on the road to Tokyo."
* Premiere voted this movie as one of "The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time" in 2006.
Bing Crosby ... Jeff Peters
Bob Hope ... Orville 'Turkey' Jackson / Aunt Lucy
Dorothy Lamour ... Princess Shalmar
Anthony Quinn ... Mullay Kasim
Dona Drake ... Mihirmah
Vladimir Sokoloff ... Hyder Khan
Mikhail Rasumny ... Ahmed Fey
George Givot ... Neb Jolla
At the turn of the century, Duke and Chester, two vaudeville performers, go to Alaska to make their fortune. On the ship to Skagway, they find a map to a secret gold mine, which had been stolen by McGurk and Sperry, a couple of thugs. They disguise themselves as McGurk and Sperry to get off the ship. Meanwhile, Sal Van Hoyden is in Alaska to try and recover the map; it had been her father's. She falls in with Ace Larson, who wants to steal the gold mine for himself. Duke and Chester, McGurk and Sperry, Ace and his henchmen, and Sal, chase each other all over the countryside, trying to get the map.
Road to Utopia was one of several films made during World War II and shown to GIs before reaching the civilian public. Saratoga Trunk and The Two Mrs. Carrolls are two other examples. We have some evidence for this statement. First and foremost Robert Benchley died a year before
the film had it's premier at the New York Paramount on February 27, 1946. Benchley, noted humorist and sometime film actor, provided some off and on-screen narration for the Crosby and Hope monkeyshines. He was reputed to be a big fan of both and I think he just wanted in on the fun.
Also, Crosby recorded most of the songs for Road to Utopia on July 17, July, 19 and December 8, 1944 at Decca studios. The song Personality wasn't recorded by him until January 16, 1946, however in the film, Dorothy Lamour sang it.
It was worth the wait for the civilian public. By now the boys had the surreal nonsense down pat. Dorothy Lamour plays Skagway Sal who's father is murdered in the first minutes of the movie by killers Sperry and McGurk. Dotty beats it up to Alaska to look up Douglass Dumbrille, her dad's best friend for assistance. As Douglass Dumbrille invariably does in these films, he's looking for the goldmine her father left for himself.
The killers take the next boat with the map that they stole from Dad in hand. But they don't reckon with the sharpie and the schnook who have stowed away on the boat to Alaska. Crosby and Hope steal the map and the killer's identity.
The plot I've described so far could be a melodrama, but not in any film with the title beginning "Road to......" Between talking bears, talking fish, and a cameo appearance by Santa Claus the laughs come fast and furious.
Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke wrote the songs for this surreal madcap and gave Dotty two songs, Would You and the aforementioned Personality. Crosby got his ballad, Welcome to My Dream, and a philosophical song, It's Anybody's Spring. The last one he sang on board on a ship talent contest with Hope accompanying him on the accordion. They lost to an organ grinder and a monkey which prompted Hope to comment on the next road trip he was bringing Sinatra.
And Crosby and Hope sang Goodtime Charlie which didn't make it to vinyl and Put It There Pal probably the best known of the duets they sang together in the Road pictures. Lots of dated references in the lyrics there to Crosby's horses and their respective radio sponsors. But today's audiences would still enjoy it.
One interesting fact was that the Catholic Legion of Decency a very powerful group in those days made objections to suggestive lyrics in Personality. Hard to believe in this day and age, but as another songwriter a generation later put it, "the times, they are a changin'."
Road picture references are sometimes dated, but the laughs are eternal.
* This is the only one of the seven "Road" pictures in which Bing Crosby and Bob Hope do not do their famous "pat-a-cake" routine.
Bing Crosby ... Duke Johnson / Junior Hooton
Bob Hope ... Chester Hooton
Dorothy Lamour ... Sal Van Hoyden
Hillary Brooke ... Kate
Douglass Dumbrille ... Ace Larson
Jack La Rue ... LeBec (as Jack LaRue)
Robert Barrat ... Sperry
Nestor Paiva ... McGurk
Robert Benchley ... Narrator
Scat Sweeney, and Hot Lips Barton, two out of work musicians, stow away on board a Rio bound ship, after accidentally setting fire to the big top of a circus. They then get mixed up with a potential suicide Lucia, who first thanks them, then unexpectedly turns them over to the ship's captain. When they find out that she has been hypnotized, to go through a marriage of convenience, when the ship reaches Rio, the boys turn up at the ceremony, in order to stop the wedding, and to help catch the crooks.
The fifth in the Hope-Crosby-Lamour Road To series isn't the best of the bunch but it probably comes in a close second or third. The routine was well-established by the time they made this one. Hope and Crosby compete with each other for the attentions of Dorothy Lamour, the potential victim of an arranged marriage, whom they meet while stowing away on an ocean liner en-route to Rio.
As usual, Hope volunteers Crosby for crazy stunts and pockets the payment received for such devilishness, while Crosby hones his self-serving coward routine when he offers to help the suicidal Lamour throw herself overboard rather than be discovered as a stowaway. Of course Lamour survives to play the boys off against one another. Although the dynamics may be familiar, the comedy is still surprisingly fresh. Crosby and Hope were one of the few comedy duos from Hollywood's golden age who relied more on verbal quips and cleverness than slapstick and props to get their laughs – although the scene in which they are the unwitting targets of a hit-man's rifle proves the exception to the rule. Gale Sondergaard appears in this one as Lamour's wicked 'aunt' and it's the kind of role her vaguely oriental looks were made for.
Rio is also enhanced by the appearance of the Wiere Brothers as a trio of Brazilian musicians recruited by Crosby to play the parts of musicians in his non-existent band. Armed with only three English expressions – 'You're telling me," "You're in the groove, Jackson," and "This is murder," – to fool the owner of the club in which they are playing into believing they are American, the trio embark on a clever routine that leaves Hope and Crosby standing on the sidelines.
* At 100 minutes, this is the longest of the seven "Road" pictures.
* In the meat freezer scene there is a large side of meat labeled "Crosby Grade A Stables." Bing Crosby owned a stable of race horses that famously performed poorly.
* Hiding in the lifeboat, Bob Hope is polishing his trumpet and says "You happy little Grable fodder". Heartthrob Betty Grable married trumpeter Harry James in 1943.
* Disembarking from the ship, Bing Crosby tells sinister Gale Sondegaard "I'll listen for you on Inner Sanctum". Radio's "Inner Sanctum Mysteries" debuted in 1941 and featured gruesome stories and spine-chilling characters.
* Leading the cavalry chase at the end of the movie is Bob Hope's long-time radio partner, bushy mustached Jerry Colonna.
* Escaping from the hoods at the wedding by bursting through the crowd, Scat shouts "Come on Blanchard" and Hotlips replies "Block 'em Davis". The audience would have recognized the reference to Felix "Doc" Blanchard and Glenn Davis, former Army star running backs. As team-mates from 1944 to 1946, they were referred to as "Mr. Inside" and "Mr. Outside." Blanchard had won the Heisman Trophy in 1945 and Davis in 1946, the year before the movie was released.
Bing Crosby ... Scat Sweeney
Bob Hope ... Hot Lips Barton
Dorothy Lamour ... Lucia Maria de Andrade
Gale Sondergaard ... Catherine Vail
Frank Faylen ... Harry aka Trigger
Joseph Vitale ... Tony
George Meeker ... Sherman Malley
Frank Puglia ... Rodrigues
Nestor Paiva ... Cardoso
Robert Barrat ... Johnson
Having to leave Melbourne in a hurry to avoid various marriage proposals, two song-and-dance men sign on for work as divers. This takes them to an idyllic island on the way to Bali where they vie with each other for the favours of Princess Lala. The hazardous dive produces a chest of priceless jewels which arouses the less romantic interest of some shady locals.
Road to Bali is one of the two or three best in the Hope-Crosby series, and sees the pair hot-tailing it out of Australia and across to Indonesia, where they are employed as divers by a mysterious islander princess (mind you, the Hollywood representation of Balinese culture tends to look more like Hawaii, but it's of little consequence, the whole thing is merely a stage for the Hope and Crosby routine.) When diving on a wreck the pair are warned about a mysterious sea-god called 'Boga-ten', so Crosby sends down Hope as something of a sacrificial lamb - he then encounters an unconvincing giant squid. They escape and end up in the clutches of an even more unconvincing tribe, in the hands of none other than General Burkhalter from 'Hogan's Heroes', who decides that sacrifice to a volcano is the best option...
The comedy is classic 'Road' - the pair stroll from situation to situation, taking humourous potshots at each other, making in-jokes about the entertainment industry, and occasionally bursting into song. Dorothy Lamour provides the female presence, love interest and 'straight person' to the duo's persistent childishness and oneupmanship. Crosby invariably comes out the winner, such as in the competition for Lamour's romantic interest (it seems she only likes Hope because he resembles a pet chimpanzee she had as a child.) It's all good fun, if slightly politically incorrect these days, but still holds up pretty well.
From the very first Road picture Hope and Crosby were known for their ad-libbing. In fact when they guested on each other's shows the two of them would take the script and insert some of their own lines to try and catch the other off-guard.
In this Road picture I will swear that the moment the boys and Dotty Lamour were washed ashore on the proverbial south sea island, the picture is one long ad-lib. I am sure the director said, here's the plot situation just make it up as you go. It's got that kind of spontaneity.
Bing Crosby ... George Cochran
Bob Hope ... Harold Gridley
Dorothy Lamour ... Princess Lala
Murvyn Vye ... Ken Arok
Peter Coe ... Gung
Ralph Moody ... Bhoma Da
Leon Askin ... Ramayana
This is the final Hope and Crosby movie. They play Chester and Harry, two hucksters. When Chester loses his memory, they are told that his only hope is to go to a lamasery where they have an herb that can not only restore one's memory but enhance it. Now through a case of mistaken identity they get there hands on some sensitive material and the only copy of it is in Chester's head. But unfortunately for them the high lama sent someone to get the herbs back thus making it impossible for to get the information. And the people who want it are willing to do whatever it takes to get it.
This turned out to be the end of a great cycle of comedy films. Two mega-individual stars, pooling their talents to come up with comedy classics.
Since this was the only Road picture not done on the Paramount lot it has a whole different feel to it and not for the better. Unfortunately the decision was made to dump Dorothy Lamour from her traditional role as sex object for Crosby and Hope to pant over. Joan Collins was years away from her career role as Alexis Carrington. Here she's just not into the same spirit of things that Dotty was. Dotty was brought in and did one of her numbers Warmer Than A Whisper towards the end of the film.
It's been pointed out that 29 year old Collins looked ridiculous falling for 58 year old Crosby. I can see the case for it, but I would remind everyone that four years earlier, Bing in fact took as his second wife, a woman with just such an age difference.
One of the inside jokes of the film was that Hope's name in the film was Chester Babcock which is the birth name of Jimmy Van Heusen who wrote so many film scores for Crosby. Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn contributed a ballad for Bing dueted with Collins called Let's Not Be Sensible. And Bob and Bing get two patter numbers, Teamwork and the title tune. There's a lot less music in this outing and that's not for the better of the film.
Still the film has some good comedic moments the best of which involve a hilarious scene in a Hindu doctor's office with an unbilled Peter Sellers as the doctor. The doctor advises Hope to take a cure for amnesia at a hidden lamasery, a la Shangri La, where they find David Niven committing Lady Chatterley's Lover to memory. And at the end when the boys and Collins arrive on another planet in a surreal ending they find Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin waiting for them.
Among the rest of the supporting cast Robert Morley as a mad scientist and chief villain and Felix Aylmer as the Grand Lama stand out.
Before Crosby died in 1977, he Hope and Lamour and signed to do still another film entitled Road to the Fountain of Youth. I wish it had been done. Road to Hong Kong is all right, but not up to the standards of those wacky days at Paramount.
# Joan Collins was given the female lead in this final "Road" picture and Dorothy Lamour was given a small cameo appearance. When Lamour balked, and since financial backing hinged on her participation in the project, her role was enlarged.
# 'Bob Hope' 's character Chester Babcock is named after composer Jimmy Van Heusen who was born Edward Chester Babcock. Van Heusen wrote "Warmer Than A Whisper" which Dorothy Lamour performs in the movie.
# Bob Hope and Bing Crosby's final Road movie. Two years after Crosby's death, Hope announced the possibility (in earnest) of doing "The Road to the Fountain of Youth" with George Burns, but nothing came of it.
Bing Crosby ... Harry Turner
Bob Hope ... Chester Babcock
Joan Collins ... Diane (3rd Echelon agent)
Robert Morley ... Leader of the 3rd Echelon
Walter Gotell ... Dr. Zorbb (3rd Echelon scientist)
Felix Aylmer ... Grand Lama
Alan Gifford ... American official
Michele Mok ... Mr. Ahso
Katya Douglas ... 3rd Echelon receptionist
Roger Delgado ... Jhinnah