Film / Road to ...

The Road to ... movies are a series of comedy films starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, usually with Dorothy Lamour. Each of the films is a parody of a particular film genre.

  • Road to Singapore (1940)
  • Road to Zanzibar (1941)
  • Road to Morocco (1942)
  • Road to Utopia (1946)
  • Road to Rio (1947)
  • Road to Bali (1952) — The only one in color
  • The Road to Hong Kong (1962) — with Joan Collins

It inspired some other movies, including The Road to El Dorado. And even the inspiration for Family Guy "Road To..." episodes that mostly focus on Brian and Stewie.

This series provides examples, straight or parodied, of:

  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • In Morocco, Hope's character gets his hands on a magic ring...
    • Hope's magic flute in Bali, which backfires horribly when Crosby tries his hand at it.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Hope addressed remarks directly to the audience several times per movie.
  • Bookends: Road to Morocco begins and ends with the protagonists Lost at Sea.
  • Captured by Cannibals: In Road to Zanzibar, with the cannibals thinking Hope and Crosby are white gods... until, that is, the cannibals decide to test their divinity by having Hope get into a sidesplittingly hilarious wrestling match with a Killer Gorilla.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: They never get there in Rio. But exciting, wasn't it?
  • The Cameo: Several, particularly in the last two films.
  • Crashing Through the Harem: In Road to Morocco, Hope and Crosby try to hide from the evil Kasim by hiding in a harem. Unfortunately, they get found out.
  • Cymbal-Banging Monkey: In Road to Utopia, when Hope and Crosby enter a talent contest, their act follows a man with a cymbal-banging monkey. The monkey wins.
  • Darkest Africa: Once again, from Road to Zanzibar. It uses all the standard Pulp Africa tropes and subverts the heck out of them.
  • Demoted to Extra: Dorothy Lamour, in The Road to Hong Kong. She actually wasn't going to appear in it at all after Crosby insisted on (and got) a younger female lead in Joan Collins, but Hope intervened to at least get her a cameo appearance.
  • Drink Order: In Road to Utopia, Hope's character tries to fit in at tough-guy frontier bar, but then orders a lemonade. Realizing his mistake, he quickly turns to the bartender and growls, " a dirty glass!"
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Road to Singapore is a lot more subdued and conventional than the films that followed.
  • The Gay '90s: Road to Utopia was set in the '90s gold rush in the Yukon.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In Road to Hong Kong, Chester has lost his memory and Harry asks if he remembers him, his "bosom buddy".
    Chester: Bosom, what's that?
    Harry: Oh you have lost your memory.
  • Greek Chorus: Humorist Robert Benchley, in Road to Utopia.
  • Handwave: At one point in Morocco the duo are bound hand and foot and wrapped up inside nets, hopping across the desert. They get loose somehow off-screen, and when Hope asks how they managed it, Crosby says they'd better not tell, as the audience would never believe it.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners
  • Hollywood Mirage: Road to Morocco has a mirage of a drive-in, followed by singing mirage of Dorothy Lamour, who disappears when touched.
  • How We Got Here: Road to Utopia starts out in current (1946) times and then flashes back to the turn of the century.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Bob and Bing's "pattycake" game.
  • Iconic Outfit: Dorothy Lamour's sarong. They even managed to sneak it into Road to Utopia, which is set in the Yukon, via an Imagine Spot.
  • Identical Grandson: Used to hilarious effect at the end of Road to Utopia. ("We adopted him.")
  • Incredibly Lame Puns
    "Like Webster's dictionary, we're Morocco bound"
  • Incredibly Long Note: Jerry Colonna's rendition of "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" in Road to Singapore begins with one of these.
  • Invisible Backup Band: Road to Zanzibar discusses this together with Mickey Mousing in a dialogue which ends with Crosby conducting the invisible orchestra to accompany his singing of the love theme:
    "What killed me is that from nowhere, an orchestra started. You know, violins and everything, right in the minute of a jungle. Isn't that silly?"
  • Just Smile and Nod: Dorothy Lamour frequently did this when she shared scenes with Hope and Crosby. Justified in that more often than not Hope and Crosby were off-script.
  • Large Ham/Ham-to-Ham Combat: Dorothy Lamour on making the pictures: "I felt like a wonderful sandwich, a slice of white bread between two slices of ham."
  • Literal Genie/Wasteful Wishing: In Road to Morocco, an imprisoned Jeff and Orville are given a ring which grants wishes, but are told it doesn't work for everyone. They're also given two poison tablets to use in case the ring doesn't work for either of them. When the ring doesn't work for Jeff, Orville begins to swallow a tablet, and then...
    Orville: (to the sky) Set the table, Aunt Lucy, there'll be two more for dinner... Boy, I sure wish I had a drink.
    (a drink appears in Orville's hand)
    Jeff: Junior! Junior, It worked! How about that, the magic ring, it worked on you!
    Orville: Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle!
    (Orville turns into a monkey)
  • Logo Joke: In Road to Utopia, Hope and Crosby are sledding through the Klondike countryside and enjoying the scenery, when something catches Hope's eye:
    Hope: Hey, get a load of that bread and butter!
    (Cut to a shot of a snow-covered mountain)
    Crosby: Bread and butter? That's a mountain!
    (The "Paramount Pictures" logo suddenly appears in front of said mountain)
    Hope: Maybe a mountain to you, but it's bread and butter to me!
  • Lost at Sea: Played (relatively) straight in the first scene of Road to Morocco, and then parodied at the end.
  • MacGuffin: In Road to Rio, there are the mysterious Papers that have no bearing on the plot besides having an interesting safe-cracking scene. Lampshaded when Hope and Crosby say that "the world must never know" their contents. At the end, when the papers have been recovered and they're about to be read, they get torn up instead, since they've served their dramatic purpose.
  • Medicine Show: Road to Singapore has Hope, Crosby and Lamour playing ocarinas and selling bottled soap as a miracle stain remover.
  • Narrator: Robert Benchley in Road to Utopia.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: Done for laughs at the beginning of Road to Morocco, where Geoffrey (Crosby) and Oliver (Hope) are stranded at sea.
  • Not So Remote: Road to Morocco ends with Hope and Crosby stranded on a raft after Hope accidentally blows up the ship. Just as Hope is winding up to a big dramatic moment about the possibility of them dying out there, Crosby points out that they're within sight of New York.
  • Oscar Bait: Lampshaded and spoofed in many of the movies, notably in Road to Morocco, which ends with Hope and Crosby stranded on a raft after Hope accidentally blows up the ship:
    Hope: I can't go on! No food, no water! It's all my fault. We're done for! It's got me. I can't stand it! No food, nothing! No food, no water! No food! HAHAHAHAHA!!
    Crosby: What's the matter with you, anyway? There's New York. We'll be picked up in a few minutes.
    Hope: (snaps out of it) You had to open your big mouth and ruin the only good scene I got in the picture. I might've won the Academy Award!
  • Overly Polite Pals
  • Pardon My Klingon: In Road to Zanzibar, the natives of Darkest Africa have their lines subtitled in English, but one line produces a [CENSORED] stamp instead of a subtitle.
  • Plot Armor: Lampshaded in the title song of Road to Morocco:
    For any villains we may meet, we haven't any fears;
    Paramount will protect us, 'cause we're signed for five more years.
    • Also in Road to Bali: The branch that Hope and Crosby are leaning against breaks, but they stay suspended in mid-air.
    Crosby: Hey, why don't we fall?
    Hope: Paramount wouldn't dare. Especially at your age.
  • Road Trip Plot: All of the pictures featured Bob and Bing as comic partners getting in various misadventures as they traveled from A to B.
  • Running Gag/Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: "Pattycake, pattycake..."
  • Saw a Woman in Half: The heroes attempt this at the end of Zanzibar.
  • "Setting Off" Song: "(We're Off on the) Road to Morocco"
  • Shout-Out: Crosby's tribal garb in Zanzibar includes a headpiece which looks a whole lot like Mickey Mouse ears. In the same scene, his line about being "off to see the wizard" is a quote from The Wizard of Oz.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Lamour, though both Zanzibar and Morocco gave her a female sidekick/traveling companion.
  • Sneeze of Doom: Done with a fly landing on Hope's face in Road to Morocco.
  • Thematic Series: Despite sharing the same actors and style of humor (to say nothing of being in the same series), the movies are technically not part of the same narrative with the actors playing different, yet similar characters in each.
  • Thirsty Desert: Played with in Road to Morocco.
  • 13 Is Unlucky: It's subtle, but Hope says in Morocco that he was born on September 13, 1913. "It was a Friday." (Never mind that it was actually a Saturday...)
  • Title Theme Tune: "We're off on the road to Morocco..."
  • Travel Montage: Road to Zanzibar uses the comedy version where the line starts meandering chaotically.
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast
  • Vagabond Buddies / Vitriolic Best Buds: Forever on the road, bickering every step of the way.
  • We Need a Distraction: The "patty-cake" routine: When faced with a foe, Hope and Crosby start playing patty-cake, and while the bad guy watches in bemusement, they each punch him out simultaneously. Occasionally, the villain is onto them and hits them first, causing Hope to point out that "he must have seen the picture."