Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Road to Hong Kong


And so the seven Road pictures end not with a dud, but a bit of a fizzle. All these movies were take-offs on one genre or another—jungle adventure, Arabian nights, tropical island, etc.—and this one is said to spoof the James Bond spy movies, though I don’t see how that’s possible since Dr. No was released the same month. I guess there were other secret agent/mad scientist movies before that, but none spring to mind. It has cameo appearances by people like Sinatra and Dean Martin, and a larger scene with Peter Sellers. It has the usual cornball jokes and one-liners, and the references to earlier movies—here they even name them—and a lot of good things going for it, but it has a fatal flaw: one of the “guest” appearances is by Dorothy Lamour. It seems this is because Crosby (who was 59, much older than he had been when Hope was making jokes about his age in the earlier pictures, and looking his age) thought Lamour, who was 48, was “too old” to play a glamorous leading lady. Well, fuck you, Bing! Bob said he wouldn’t make the picture without Dorothy, and a compromise was eventually reached where the wonderful Lamour got to appear as herself and sing a song. A high point of the movie, much better than your song, Bingo, you old fart. She also has some of the funniest lines, playing herself. Like: Bing and Bob ask her if she remembers making all those movies with them, like Road to Rio and Road to Morocco. She says something like “How else do you think I ended up playing this stinking little club in Hong Kong?” Compare her with Joan Collins, the “star” of this picture. Collins has maybe a 16-inch waist and 18 inches of beehive hair towering over her head, and no talent other than that. But there’s also a problem it’s sort of hard to pin down. It just doesn’t look right in the higher-resolution film of 1962. And it somehow doesn’t work that they travel on Boeing 707 jetliners instead of trains and tramp steamers. These movies were definitely 1940s movies, even though Road to Bali was made in 1952. There were plans for an eighth picture, Road to the Fountain of Youth, which Crosby would have really needed in 1977, and he proved my point by keeling over dead. Good career move, Bingle.