Ok, let’s get this show on the road! The Road to Singapore, that is, the first in a series of seven films, starring Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour, and Bob Hope!
At first, we find Josh Mallon (Bing Crosby) and Ace Lannigan (Bob Hope) making fun of married men, and then we find out their problems: Ace is facing a shotgun wedding since he kept a girl out half the night (double-feature movie, according to him), and Josh is engaged to socialite Gloria Wycott. They both make a run for it, heading towards Singapore, and swearing off women in the process. In Kaigoon, they find a place of their own to stay. Making a stop at a local bar, they end up helping local dancer Mima (Dorothy Lamour) get away from her abusive partner. They both end up falling for her, and try to put each other in a bad light as they try to win her heart, before Josh’s father and fiancé arrive to bring him back.
This is the first of the seven Road movies, and while it is a slightly different beast than the films that would follow it, it does set several precedents for the series. First and foremost, we have Bing and Bob doing their patty-cake routine, which became their go-to method for starting fights in the series to get away. We also find them breaking the fourth wall, with references to Paramount (the studio making this movie, and who had them under contract), and making fun of the pre-recorded tracks, amongst other things. Of course, we also have Bing and Bob trying to win Dorothy’s affections, as well, with the same result as most of the series that would follow! One thing, though, is that, this movie, like the rest of the series, is not very politically correct, since part of the allure of the series was the exotic nature of different cultures (and not necessarily all accurate, either).
Of course, most of the fun with this movie is Bing and Bob, with most of their quips and insults. I’d say they were ad-libbed, but most of what I know indicates they both had their writers from their radio shows on set, who generally came up with most of their lines. So, who knows just how much of what happened was the original script, and how much their writers came up with. Of course, to that end, we definitely need to give Dorothy Lamour a lot of credit, because she was there, on her own, with no writers to back her up, and she still managed to help make things work (unlike her “replacement” in the final film of the series).
Of course, one of my favorite moments in the movie is the native feast near the end. When all three are suffering from hunger (since the two men are loathe to work), they hear about a feast that is only for natives, and therefore go native themselves (again, I said this is not exactly PC). After the feast, unknown to Bob and Bing, is a wedding ceremony for the natives, which is mostly a dance, where the ladies are able to pick their husbands by dancing with them (if they like each other). Personally, I like the idea as a fun wedding ceremony, but then again, I’d rather not hear the sound of every gal I dance with running away in the other direction to avoid that, either.
I really enjoy this movie, and recommend it very much. The movie is available on DVD from Universal, and is about an hour, twenty-five minutes in length.
Update: On March 26, 2019, “Road To Singapore” was released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber. Personally, I think the new transfer for the Blu-ray is the best the movie has looked that I have seen. Sure, there are a few scratches here and there, but I don’t know how much more, if anything, could be done about that from available elements. But it looks great to me, and for those interested in this movie, the recent Blu-ray release is certainly the way to go!
My Rating: 9/10