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On The Road To Zanzibar With Bing and Bob Tonight


TomJH
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Actually TCM is showing three of the "Road" comedies with Crosby and Hope this evening, starting at 8pm (EST).

 

I emphasized Zanzibar in the thread title, though, because I think this is the first time in years that the channel will be showing this one. The second in their series together, this is the one in which the chemistry between Bing and Bob really started to cook. The material of this jungle safari spoof (no, this film is not particularly politically correct) also gets quite zany. Zanzibar has always been a particular favourite of mine as far as their collaborations are concerned.

 

Early in the film, Hope, playing "Fearless Fraser" is promoted by Crosby at a carnival as getting shot out of a canon. Later in the film, captured by cannibals, it's Hope, forced to prove that he really is a God, ("That's God, not cod," Crosby informs him) who will be forced to wrestle a gorilla in a particularly wild sequence.

 

Dorothy Lamour is "the girl," of course, but this time she's accompanied by Una Merkel as her wise cracking cynical girlfriend, and Merkel always adds to the fun. By the way, the chief cannibal in this film is played by Noble Johnson, perhaps best remembered as another native chieftain, that in King Kong eight years earlier. One of the funnier moments in the film is when the natives speak in jungle gibberish, with their dialogue translated into English at the bottom of the screen.

 

"If he's a God, then I'm Mickey Mouse," says one of them.

 

Zanzibar will be the second feature shown tonight (at 9:45pm, EST). It follows Road to Singapore, the first of Hope and Crosby's comedies together and one of the weakest, in my opinion. It's really a Crosby film, with Hope and Lamour largely in support.

 

Following Zanzibar will be Road to Morocco (11:30 pm EST), one of their slickest films, and one that has had plenty of play on TCM over the years.

 

I realize that not everyone is into Crosby and Hope but I have always immensely enjoyed their on screen chemistry. Even if some of the one liners misfire it's a pleasure for me to hear their delivery of them. Certainly during his brash younger days as a comedian, Hope's timing was impeccable (comparable to Benny's on the radio, I think), and he was in his prime as a comic during the war years and just a little beyond.

 

Crosby was quite impressive, too, as a comedian. The Number One box office champion in the movies during the 1940s, Bing could also be pretty funny on screen, almost Hope's equal in these films, I feel.

 

As the series progressed, Hope and Crosby's irreverent humour would often "break the fourth wall" in their films, acknowledging to their audiences that they were playing in a movie and sometimes looking directly at the camera and speaking to them.

 

At one point in Road to Morocco, for example, Hope looks at the camera and says, referring to his partner, "You can go out and get your popcorn now, folks. He's going to sing."

 

Another "inside" humour moment, and one of my favourites, occurs in Road to Utopia when Bing and Bob are driving a dog sled across a snowy Alaskan landscape and they stop, Hope admiring a nearby mountain. "What's the big deal," Crosby asks him, or words to that effect, "It's just a mountain."

 

"It might be a mountain to you," Hope replies, "but it's bread and butter to me."

 

As he says so stars alight atop the mountain, turning it into the logo mountain of Paramount, the studio that made their comedies.

 

4751085_l5.jpg

 

Road to Zanzibar - Bing and Bob adopting the poses of Gods to their cannibal hosts, but soon Hope will be going mano a ape-o with a big hairy brute.

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I might look in due to my long being a sucker for those Hope/Crosby "road" pictures.

 

As I don't subscribe to either TV GIUDE or the TCM GIUDE, I thank you for the "heads up".

 

 

Sepiatone

Me too....I just love the frank way they do the film...they don't try to make masterpieces and to me it is vaudeville on film which I would have never been able to experience without being able to see these movies. 

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Me too....I just love the frank way they do the film...they don't try to make masterpieces and to me it is vaudeville on film which I would have never been able to experience without being able to see these movies. 

 

I think it's in ROAD TO MOROCCO that has that scene where Bing and Bob, trying to sneak out of captivity, sees a group of men sitting around a table piled high with tobacco and rolling cigarettes for an upcoming ceremony and Hope askes, "What are these guys doin'?  Making REEFERS?" (they were held captive by Sheik ANTHONY QUINN)

 

I was a bit stunned and amused when I first noticed it.

 

 

Sepiatone

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I think it's in ROAD TO MOROCCO that has that scene where Bing and Bob, trying to sneak out of captivity, sees a group of men sitting around a table piled high with tobacco and rolling cigarettes for an upcoming ceremony and Hope askes, "What are these guys doin'?  Making REEFERS?" (they were held captive by Sheik ANTHONY QUINN)

 

I was a bit stunned and amused when I first noticed it.

 

 

Sepiatone

This is my favourite Hope/Crosby film as well.  I believe I read somewhere that the scene when the camel bites Bob Hope was unplanned but he reacted in such a manner that they didn't have to re-shoot the scene.  I really miss the days of Hope and Crosby specials...I guess that is why I was sucker enough to buy a box set of Frank Sinatra specials...however now in my dotage I will have to refrain from buying the Hope DVD set. 

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I suspect this scene is the one from the "Road" series embedded in more fans' memories than any other:

 

 

The first Road picture, ROAD TO SINGAPORE, was first offered to Fred MacMurray and Jack Oakie, then to Burns and Allen.......Crosby and Hope had worked together in vaudeville years before, and had recently given a live performance at Crosby's race track. 

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I have all of these on DVD.

Everyone from my 88 year old Mom, rocket scientist brother and cynical 19 year old TikiKid enjoys these movies. Like the Marx Bros before them, they are multilayered humor-no small feat!

 

The comedy writing is excellent and just perfectly cast & performed-principle & supports alike! 

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