What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… Road To Utopia (1946)

We’re back for the fourth road trip with Road To Utopia with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour!

In flashback, we are told of how Sal’s (Dorothy Lamour) lawyer is murdered by two criminals, Sperry and McGurk, who steal a map to an Alaskan gold mine, and Sal gets on the first ship to Alaska to try to head them off. Meanwhile, a pair of song-and-dance con men, Duke Johnson (Bing Crosby) and Chester Hooton (Bob Hope), end up on a later ship to Alaska (after Duke cons Chester into going along). However, Chester shoves their money out a porthole (mistaking it for a safe), and they have to work their way over.  While cleaning the room occupied by Sperry and McGurk, they find the map.  Subduing the two criminals, they assume their identities to get off the boat. Sal, having already made it to the town of Skagway, has turned to her father’s friend Ace Larson (Douglas Dumbrille) for help (although he secretly wants the mine for himself). Duke and Chester also come to Skagway, where, as Sperry and McGurk, they are big men in town and gain Sal’s attention as she tries to get the map from them. However, Duke and Chester quickly find themselves on the run when the real Sperry and McGurk come gunning for them (not to mention some of Ace Larson’s goons, too).

While this may be the fourth movie in the series, the laughs are still coming hard and fast!  We get a second go-round of “talking” animals (achieved by mainly animating the lips).  Then we have the guys defining their relationship even further, with Bing’s Duke now even more willing to con Bob’s Chester (as exemplified by Chester feeling the need to count his fingers after shaking hands with Duke, or watching them pickpocket the same wallet from each other).  Then, of course, there are their quips, lampooning each other and a lot of other things, including the censors!  And who could forget Bob literally getting steamed up when Dottie is singing to him? Of course, these are just a handful of wonderful moments in a movie full of them.

A lot of what I’ve read seems to indicate that most feel that this movie is right up there with Road To Morocco as one of the best, if not the best, movies in the Road series. Personally, I disagree with that. I do like this movie, that I will admit. But at the same time, I do miss them doing their “patty-cake” routine (since this is the ONLY film in the series that they don’t do it at least once), and their reliance on the old “literally pull the rug out from under the bad guys” schtick instead of it just doesn’t work for me. That, and, to a degree, some of the movie’s suspense is removed just by the fact that the movie starts with the three leads (in old age makeup) as they tell the story of how they came to be separated for many years.  To be fair, these are minor quibbles, as I do still enjoy this movie.  This is the one in the series that modern viewers might have the easiest time with as it has the fewest issues with being politically correct (since it only takes place in Noth America, starting in San Francisco and moving to Alaska). So, yes, I would recommend this one for a good laugh!

The movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber (and has been available on DVD from Universal for a number of years). As to the Blu-ray, I think it looks very good, possibly the best-looking transfer of the first four movies with few, if any, defects. Certainly the method of viewing I would recommend! The movie is one hour, thirty minutes in length.

My Rating: 7/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Bells Of St. Mary’s (1944) (original review of The Bells Of St. Mary’s) (update) – Bing Crosby – Blue Skies (1946)

Road To Morocco (1942) – Bob Hope – Road To Rio (1947)

Road To Morocco (1942) – Dorothy Lamour – Road To Rio (1947)

The Sky’s The Limit (1943) – Robert Benchley

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