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Film / Road to ...

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The Road to ... movies are a series of comedic adventure films starring Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and (usually) Dorothy Lamour. Each of the films is a parody of a particular genre set in a different "exotic" locale, brimming with gags and musical numbers.

The series inspired a number of later comedy films, including Spies Like Us, Ishtar, and The Road to El Dorado, as well as the Family Guy "Road to..." episodes focusing mostly on Brian and Stewie.

The films are:

  • 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 as the female lead

Other films in this series provide examples, straight or parodied, of:

  • Aside Glance: When not outright Breaking the Fourth Wall, the guys often glance at the camera.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Hope's magic flute in Bali, which backfires horribly when Crosby tries his hand at it.
  • Born in the Theatre: As Crosby gets ready to sing a song, Hope turns to the camera and says, "OK, folks, now's the time to go get some more popcorn from the lobby."
  • Brainwashed Bride: Road To Rio has the villains hypnotize the heroine into getting married, but the ceremony gets interrupted by the heroes, even as Dorothy Lamour robotically chants "I do."
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Hope addressed remarks directly to the audience several times per movie.
  • Buddy Picture
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: The climax of Road to Rio. While the two heroes are busy tangling the villainess and her two henchmen, an ally (Jerry Colonna) and a bunch of reinforcements ride furiously toward the heroes' location. But then suddenly, the heroes have won and the villains are hauled off to jail without The Cavalry ever arriving. Colonna reins in his horse mid-gallop and cheerfully comments to the camera: "Well, we never made it. But exciting, wasn't it!"
  • The Cameo: Several, particularly in the last two films.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Hope's usual persona is either this, a Lovable Coward, or both.
  • Character Aged with the Actor: The Road to Hong Kong, filmed much later, deals with the pair being significantly older. Ironically, Dorothy Lamour (in spite of being over a decade younger than the guys) was judged by Crosby to be too old to be a leading lady anymore, so she was Demoted to Extra.
  • 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.
  • 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-Based Characterization: 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, with less Breaking the Fourth Wall.
  • The End: In Road to Bali, Hope is unsatisfied with the ending, so he keeps trying to shove the "The End" card off the screen, until it becomes "Positively The End".
  • Extreme Doormat: Hope's characters repeatedly get dragged into various schemes hatched by Crosby's.
  • The Gay '90s: Road to Utopia is set in the '90s gold rush in the Yukon.
  • Giant Squid: In Road to Bali.
  • Greek Chorus: Humorist Robert Benchley, in Road to Utopia.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: In Road to Bali, a bullet shot out of a bent gun barrel starts whizzing around in circles, due to the Rule of Funny.
  • 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 Long Note: Jerry Colonna's rendition of "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" in Road to Singapore begins with one of these.
  • 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.
  • Language of Love: Road to Rio suggests this trope in the song "You Don't Have to Know the Language".
  • Large Ham: Dorothy Lamour on making the pictures: "I felt like a wonderful sandwich, a slice of white bread between two slices of ham."
  • 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 the mountain)
    Hope: Maybe a mountain to you, but it's bread and butter to me!
  • 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.
  • Overly Polite Pals: Hope and Crosby had been known to invoke the trope on occasion.
  • Plot Armor: 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, 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: The boys play pattycake before the big brawl at the climax of each film.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Lamour, though both Zanzibar and Morocco gave her a female sidekick/traveling companion.
  • The "The" Title Confusion: Only The Road to Hong Kong includes the definite article in its title.
  • 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.
  • Tropical Island Adventure: Road to Singapore, Road to Zanzibar and Road to Bali.
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast: In each movie, Hope, Crosby and Lamour play different characters with similar personalities.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Personality," the big hit song of Road to Utopia, uses the title as a euphemism for a woman's body, with lines like "She had a well-developed personality."
  • Vagabond Buddies: Forever on the road, bickering every step of the way.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Hope and Crosby have this dynamic.
  • 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".
  • Worthless Currency: Road to Utopia has Bing, having swindled some money out of drunks in their crooked theater show, discarding some of it because it is "Confederate ten spots"; remarking that "some people can be so crooked."

Alternative Title(s): Road To Singapore, Road To Utopia, Road To Rio, Road To Bali, The Road To Hong Kong