Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Road to Singapore (1940)

Two regular guys (Bob Hope and Bing Crosby) are being pressured into marriage. Bing by his captain of industry dad (Charles Coburn) and fairly hot fiancee (Judith Barrett), and Bob by, I don’t know, some thugs because he took liberties with someone’s daughter? We never see her. So anyhow, they escape to Singapore to bachelor freedom and poverty. There they meet a hot dancer (Dorothy Lamour) who is escaping her angry … boss? Boyfriend? (Anthony Quinn).

From what I understand, all of the Road movies follow the same format. Flee to exotic location and compete over cutie Lamour as an excuse for comedy gags and running bits. The trio appeared in seven such films, the first few being the best, if IMdb is to be trusted.

It was originally a vehicle for George Burns and Gracie Allen (not sure how the escaping marriage angle was handled there), then offered to Fred MacMurray and Jack Oakie, and finally given to Hope and Crosby because they were clowning around on the Paramount set. Thus a comedy team was born.

I enjoyed Bob Hope in The Cat and the Canary. The horror element was skillfully relieved by solid comedy. But here the laughs were in short supply. The tone was light and the banter playful, and I'll excuse the level of cultural sensitivity you could expect, but I don’t recall snickering, even once. And while Hope was working hard the laughs, Bing’s cucumber cool demeanor was about as interesting as his search engine namesake. The end result was a watchable, mildly interesting, unfunny, and skippable film. AMRU 2.5.

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