Hope, Crosby ‘Road To..’ films featured on Turner Classic Movies

Bob Hope and Bing CrosbyIt was 70 years ago when Paramount  Studios made the decision to team America’s favorite singer with one of it’s  best known comedians. The result of that pairing will be celebrated Thursday  night , January 28th, when Turner  Classic Movies will run five of the Bing Crosby, Bob Hope “Road To..” movies, beginning at 5pm, pst, with a  showing of “Road To Singapore”(1940). The success of the Hope and Crosby “Road” pictures is evident, not just from the fact that they would eventually make  seven of them, but that they found a winning formula during the making of the  first “Road” film, and never deviated from it while producing six more.

All of the “Road To” movies are musical comedies that are short on plot, but  chock full of wise-cracks, sight gags, running jokes, and lines that seem to be  ad-libbed, having little to do with the story. While none of the six “Road” movies that followed “Singapore” are sequels, Hope and Crosby’s characters in  all of them are interchangeable. Basically, Bing would play a sharp con man  while Hope was his cowardly, but hysterically funny sideman. During all of their  misadventures, the duo would travel to an exotic locale, find themselves in  dangerous predicaments, and meet up with Dorothy Lamour, who appears in all of the “Road” films.  (Interesting to note, Hope is billed third, behind Crosby and Lamour, in the  first “Road” film, “Road To Singapore”)

Actually, all of the “Road To..” movies are spoofs of many of the popular  film genres of the day, including African jungle flicks, Arabian Nights films  and South Seas adventures, with a few songs thrown in along the way. Hope and  Crosby’s willingness to abandon the films original scripts and throw in their  own ad-libs became legendary, as well as Hope’s tendency to break the fourth  wall and speak directly to the audience. Much of the humor consisted of inside  jokes, that poked fun at themselves, Paramount Studios, and the very films they  were staring in.

Turner Classic Movies will follow “Road To Singapore” with “Road To Zanzibar” (1941) at 6:30pm, pst, “Road To Moracco” (1942) at 8:15, pst, “Road To Utopia” (1946) at 9:45, pst, and “Road To Bali” (1952) at 11:30pm, pst. “Road To Bali” is  unique to the series in that it is in color, and has several cameos, including Jane  Russell, Humphrey  Bogart, and another famous comic duo, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

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