Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour Road Films

Road Films With Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour

The Road to Singapore (1940)

US Release Date: March 14, 1940
Starring: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour\
Plot: Best friends Josh (Bing Crosby) and Ace (Bob Hope) flee their impending marriages and sail to the exotic port of Singapore. There, they meet Mima (Dorothy Lamour), a captivating dancer, and both vie for her affections, sparking a series of comedic rivalries and adventures.

The Road to Zanzibar (1941)
US Release Date: April 11, 1941
Starring: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour
Plot: After escaping from a circus con, Josh and Ace embark on a wild African adventure. They cross paths with diamond smugglers and a princess in need of a husband, leading to a chaotic scramble through the jungle filled with humor and danger.

The Road to Morocco (1942)

US Release Date: October 5, 1942
Starring: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour
Plot: Shipwreck survivors Josh and Ace wash up on the shores of Morocco, where they stumble into a plot involving a beautiful princess and a scheming sheik. The duo’s hilarious misadventures include romantic entanglements and mistaken identities.

The Road to Utopia (1946)

US Release Date: March 27, 1946
Starring: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour
Plot: Seeking gold in Alaska, Josh and Ace impersonate dangerous criminals to claim a fortune. Their plans are complicated when they encounter a crooked saloon owner and a charming singer, leading to a treasure hunt filled with comic mishaps.

The Road to Rio (1947)

US Release Date: December 25, 1947
Starring: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour
Plot: After accidentally boarding a ship to Brazil, Josh and Ace find themselves entangled in a plot to steal a priceless diamond. Their journey is fraught with zany schemes and pursuits by international criminals, all set against the backdrop of Rio’s vibrant culture.

The Road to Bali (1952)

US Release Date: November 19, 1952
Starring: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour
Plot: Shipwrecked on a lush tropical island, Josh and Ace compete for the love of a beautiful native woman while dealing with the perils of a mad scientist and a legendary giant squid. The duo’s comic rivalry is tested in this exotic paradise.

The Road to Hong Kong (1962)

US Release Date: May 22, 1962
Starring: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Joan Collins, with an extended cameo featuring Dorothy Lamour
Plot: In the series’ final film, Josh and Ace find themselves involved in a mistaken top-secret espionage plot. With the help of a mysterious spy (Joan Collins) and their old flame (Dorothy Lamour), they embark on a globe-trotting adventure that takes them from Hong Kong to the Himalayas, filled with classic antics and comedic confusion.

Brief Biographies of Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour

Bob Hope

  • Personality: Known for his quick wit and impeccable comedic timing, Bob Hope was one of the most beloved entertainers of the 20th century. His on-stage persona was that of a wise-cracking everyman, often poking fun at himself, which endeared him to audiences worldwide. Hope was also famous for his tireless support of American troops, performing in numerous USO shows over the decades.
  • Involvement in Road Films: Hope played a central role in the “Road” film series, often portraying characters that were lovable yet bumbling sidekicks to Bing Crosby’s slightly more composed figures. His humorous and light-hearted approach perfectly counterbalanced Crosby’s smooth demeanor, creating a dynamic and entertaining duo.

Bing Crosby

  • Personality: Bing Crosby was known for his smooth baritone voice and laid-back, easygoing charm. He exuded a warm, approachable on-screen presence that made him a favorite in American homes. Off-camera, Crosby was a passionate golfer and a significant figure in the development of recorded media technology.
  • Involvement in Road Films: Crosby often played the “straight man” to Bob Hope’s comedic antics in the “Road” movies. His character usually initiated the duo’s various escapades and romantic entanglements. Crosby’s smooth singing voice was a highlight in many films, contributing to several memorable musical sequences.

Dorothy Lamour

  • Personality: Dorothy Lamour was known for her exotic beauty and versatility as an actress. She often played the romantic interest or the damsel in distress with a touch of intelligence and moxie. Her warm demeanor and talent for comedy and drama made her a valuable and memorable part of any cast.
  • Involvement in Road Films: Lamour was famously dubbed the “Road” series’ leading lady, appearing in all but one of the films. She often played the role of a smart, resourceful woman who competed with and romanced Hope and Crosby’s characters. Lamour’s performances added charm and a romantic flair to the series, and her presence was integral to the trio’s chemistry.

25 Bits of Trivia About the “Road Films”

  1. Improvised Genius: Much of Bob Hope’s and Bing Crosby’s dialogue was ad-libbed, contributing to the films’ spontaneous and humorous atmosphere.

  2. Recurring Leading Lady: Dorothy Lamour starred in all but the last of the original “Road” films, often wearing a sarong, which became her trademark look.

  3. Musical Highlights: Each film featured at least one song that became a hit, including classics like “Moonlight Becomes You” and “Road to Morocco.”

  4. Cameo Appearances: The series is known for its cameo appearances by well-known era stars, including Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, and even Frank Sinatra.

  5. The Formula: The “Road” films followed a successful formula where Hope and Crosby would play two adventurers who end up in exotic locales, compete for Lamour’s affections, and sing songs.

  6. Breaking the Fourth Wall: Bob Hope and Bing Crosby frequently broke the fourth wall, directly addressing the audience, which was innovative for its time.

  7. Last-Minute Title: The Road to Hong Kong was initially titled The Road to the Moon but was changed due to the space race context of the time.

  8. Not the End: The Road to Hong Kong was intended to be followed by The Road to the Fountain of Youth, but it was never made due to Crosby’s death in 1977.

  9. Technicolor Triumph: The Road to Singapore, the first in the series, was one of the early films to use Technicolor, helping to popularize the technology.

  10. Critical Acclaim: While known for their comedic elements, the films were also critically acclaimed and received several award nominations.

  11. Parody Element: The films often parodied other popular genres and films of the time, including adventure epics and film noir.

  12. Animal Antics: Animals frequently played significant roles in the films, including an orangutan in The Road to Bali.

  13. Economic Impact: The series was extremely profitable, consistently earning more than double their production costs.

  14. Script Changes: Scripts were often rewritten on set to accommodate new jokes or plot ideas, particularly those improvised by Hope and Crosby.

  15. Innovative Marketing: The films were among the first to use extensive cross-promotion, often featuring in radio shows and comic strips.

  16. Film References: The series often referenced other films Hope, Crosby, and Lamour were filming at the time, poking fun at Hollywood itself.

  17. Impact on Pop Culture: Phrases from the films, such as “pat it and mark it with a ‘B’,” became catchphrases that entered popular vocabulary.

  18. Global Appeal: Despite their American sense of humor, the films enjoyed international success, helping to globalize Hollywood cinema.

  19. Directorial Shifts: The films had various directors; however, Hal Walker directed several, setting much of the stylistic tone.

  20. Unscripted Songs: Many of the songs were written impromptu on set and integrated into the films’ plots.

  21. Costume Influence: Dorothy Lamour’s sarong became so popular that it sparked a fashion trend in the 1940s.

  22. Legacy: The series influenced later buddy comedies, establishing a genre template of combining humor with exotic adventure.

  23. Adaptations: There were numerous adaptations of the series in other media, including radio plays and a comic book series.

  24. Ratings Success: The films were consistently among the top box office draws of their years of release.

  25. Enduring Popularity: The “Road” films remain popular today, frequently screened at film festivals and on classic movie channels.