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Saturday, May 30, 2015

ROAD TO BALI (1952)

Sixth of the seven self-mocking/self-referential ROAD pics from Bing Crosby, Bob Hope & Dorothy Lamour, it’s the last of the contiguous series via Paramount. (A trip to HONG KONG a decade later was a non-starter with Lamour downgraded to glorified cameo.) Here, the boys are discovered doing their vaudeville act ‘down under’ in Australia. Running away from an over-determined bride, they ship out to dive for treasure, meet up with Princess Lamour and get shipwrecked on a tropical isle where they are greeted as tonight’s main course! Alas, the silly fun of earlier outings now feels a little stale, weighed down by TechniColor, weak songs & reflexive gags. It also doesn’t help that Bing & Dot (in her last starring role) seem a decade older than they did five years back when ROAD TO RIO was the improbable top-grosser of 1948. But hang in there, everything suddenly improves in the extended last act. Better tunes, wild gags that might have come from Frank Tashlin (he’s not credited), some really funny asides from Hope, and a plot that veers into something of a travesty DESIGN FOR LIVING with Lamour wanting a two-fer; an accidental lip-lock for the boys before they go thru a marriage ceremony & share a honeymoon bed. With weirder things to come. After this, they really had nowhere to go.

DOUBLE-BILL: Go all the way back to ROAD TO SINGAPORE/’40 to see how it all started. The formula isn’t quite in place yet which turns out to be a good thing.

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