Sunday, May 8, 2011

Road to Bali (1952)

I’d personally be inclined to rank Bob Hope and Bing Crosby as one of the all-time great comedy teams, on the strength of their Road pictures. Road to Bali was the sixth of the seven movies in this series, all of which are worth seeing. I hadn’t seen this one for years and it still stands up remarkably well.

While the names changed from movie to movie the characters remained the same, two likeable rogues on the make in various exotic locales (or at least on the Paramount backlot dressed up as various exotic locales). They always spent most of the movie trying to outsmart each other but Bing’s character always had a slight edge in cunning. And of course Dorothy Lamour always turned up somewhere.

This time George Cochran (Crosby) and Harold Gridley (Hope) are recruited as deep-sea divers employed by an island princeling to retrieve a sunken treasure. Needless to say Harold ends up doing the actual diving. Lamour is a princess with whom they both fall in love. They are forced to flee from the prince’s treachery and end up in Bali, where both are expecting to marry the princess.

The comedy is the same anarchic brand as in their other Road movies. The most evolutionary feature of these movies was their continual breaking of the fourth wall and their extreme self-referentiality. On the run from the evil prince they encounter Humphrey Bogart dragging the African Queen through the swamp and Harold finds Bogart’s Oscar which he’s misplaced.

There are one or two surprisingly risque moments, and there are more than enough laughs to keep anyone happy.

I’m not the biggest fan of either Crosby or Hope in other vehicles but somehow the two of them together just click perfectly.

Sadly the Region 4 DVD is rather poor, in fact extremely poor, but it’s a fun little movie.

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