"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The "Road to" Movies and the Great Bob Hope

A commenter mentioned the "Road" movies of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, in response to my post on Meet Me in St. Louis, and I am glad that he or she brought the subject up.

The Road movies are indeed great fun, and most of them are must-see cinema. The first one, Road to Singapore, is not as funny and likeable as the others, but Hope and Crosby and the gang learned a lot from that one and went on to make a terrific series of simply flat-out-funny movies. Their goal was simply to make people laugh, and they have succeeded admirably at that over the years. My favorite of the series is Road to Utopia, which is set in Alaska and includes a delightful intermittent narration by Robert Benchley and probably the best jokes-per-minute ratio in the series. Road to Morocco is another highlight of the series, with great gags such as a talking camel, and terrific interplay between Bob and Bing. Zanzibar, Rio, and Bali are all quite funny too. The last one, Road to Hongkong, is amusing and likable but not as inspired as the others.

More Hope:

On Christmas Day, my family and I enjoyed our annual viewing of The Lemon Drop Kid, while visiting a friend who is also a great fan of Bob Hope and this wonderful Christmas film. I have seen the film well over a dozen times, and upon each viewing I discover something I hadn't noticed before. This one was no exception. The film, loosely based on a Damon Runyan story, concerns a scheme by racetrack tout Sidney Milburn, the Lemon Drop kid of the title (played by Bob Hope) to institute a confidence scheme that will accumulate $10,000 so that he won't be killed on Christmas by the gangster to whom he owes that sum. The movie is full of some of the wittiest comments and funniest sight gags Hope ever laid onto celluloid, which is saying a lot. But in addition to that, The Lemon Drop Kid has a highly serious meaning behind it, as the events of the film explore concepts of sin, repentance, and redemption. The film is so funny and delightful that most viewers will absorb these meanings without realizing it, which makes it that much more enjoyable and effective.

For more on Bob Hope and his achievements, you will find articles by the present author here, here, and here.

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