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Road to Utopia: Anyone Else Surprised The Film's Final Joke Was Allowed By The Production Code?


TomJH
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The fourth film in the famous comedy series and one of the funniest, with lots of wacky humour and breaking of the Fourth Wall, this one is largely told in flashback, sandwiched by two scenes in which the three stars are presented as old people. Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour are married, surprisingly, and receive a visit for the first time in 40 years by a white haired Bing Crosby, who shows up at their door with a pair of beautiful young women clinging to his arms. There's a bit of dialogue between them then the flashback begins, telling what there is of the film's story.

Road to Utopia (1945) - IT CAME FROM THE BOTTOM SHELF!

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the film, though, is its final joke.

As the flashback wraps up the story returns us to its three stars in old people makeup once again when Lamour makes reference to her son with Hope. Crosby expresses surprise at the news they have children.

"Would you like to see him?" Lamour asks then calls out, "Junior!"

Walking down the stairs is their son the spitting image of Bing Crosby (who plays the role). "You call me, Mom?" he asks.

The "old" Crosby is clearly uncomfortable, shifting his eyes back and forth and ducking his head a little low.

Hope then leans into the camera for a closeup as he says "We adopted him."

The End.

I think it's a pretty good joke upon which to end the comedy but I'm a little surprised the Production Code of 1946 allowed the filmmakers to get away with it.

Mind you Hollywood was dealing with more socially daring topics than before after the war. It's been years since I saw To Each His Own, with Olivia de Havilland, released the same year as Utopia, but I believe that film dealt with illegitimate children, didn't it?

I suspect this joke ending Utopia would not have gotten past the censor when the first Road film was made in 1940. I guess the movies were slowly growing up. Still, for a 1946 comedy to end with this joke (again I think it's a good one) takes me a little bit by surprise.

Anyone else feel this way?

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You told that well. My guess is you answered your own question when you noted the Board was become more "expansive" in what it allowed. Also, even during the draconian years of the second half of 1930s, some stuff just got past the censors.

I've never understood how the movie "In Name Only" got made in 1939 in which Cary Grant clearly has an affair with Carole Lombard because his wife, Kay Francis, is such a horrible b*tch. Somehow, the censors allowed the wife to be the bad woman and the mistress to be the good one, plus it's clear Lombard and Grant are sleeping together. How the heck did this movie get made, but it did.

I think you're right that the joke you note was probably allowed owing to a slight easing in post-war censorship, but it's also possible it's just one of those things, like the entire movie "In Name Only," that got by the censors somehow. 

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I also think the code was more lenient or missed the insinuation because you don't illustrate a character's face in a script. The absolute beauty of these Road pictures (and Bob Hope movies in general) is catching the adult humor that kids and some censors may never realize.

I recall watching a film screened by the Syracuse Cinephile Society where a seated Hope had a girl sitting on each of his knees and he quipped, "Wish I had a third leg" and my table could barely control ourselves giggling-no one else in the audience got it!

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10 minutes ago, Tikisoo said:

 

I recall watching a film screened by the Syracuse Cinephile Society where a seated Hope had a girl sitting on each of his knees and he quipped, "Wish I had a third leg" and my table could barely control ourselves giggling-no one else in the audience got it!

TikiSoo, are you sure you're not talking about Road to Utopia?

There is a scene in a bar in which Bing and Bob both have a pair of dance hall girls sitting on their legs.

Bob, laughing, says, "This is awful" then pointing to a third girl standing in front of him says, "I ain't got room for her. I wish I had another leg."

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1 hour ago, LuckyDan said:

The joke is the kid looks likes Bing. The line "we adopted him" is what saves it from the code. 

Well, that was my point. I was surprised the Code allowed the line because it's then apparent that Crosby was the father out of wedlock. Crosby's uncomfortable reaction to seeing the boy is further confirmation of it.

But, as I said earlier, the movies were growing up.

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1 hour ago, TomJH said:

I suspect this joke ending Utopia would not have gotten past the censor when the first Road film was made in 1940. I guess the movies were slowly growing up. Still, for a 1946 comedy to end with this joke (again I think it's a good one) takes me a little bit by surprise.

Anyone else feel this way?

Wasn't Joseph Breen partners in a production company at one point, maybe that influenced it in some way.  I think I remember Eddie Muller mentioning that fact when discussing how something got past the Code on one of the Noir.

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Yes, that was the cherry on top of the high water mark for the ROAD pictures. But beginning during the war years the code seemed to give more leeway to comedies. HI DIDDLE DIDDLE is a good example.

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By the way I think that one of the funniest lines of all the Road films occurs towards the end of Road to Utopia.

Now I admit up front my attempt to describe the scene here may not make it appear that funny. But Bob Hope's perfect timing and delivery of his lines really sells the joke when you see it.

Bing and Bob are in a wild Alaska saloon posing as a pair of tough guys. Douglas Dumbrille, the film's chief villain, asks them if they'll have a drink.

Crosby orders some "rot gut" but Hope, forgetting he's in character, innocently says, "I'll take a lemonade."

Crosby gives him a quick elbow and Hope, remembering he's a "tough guy", then growls at Dumbrille, "IN A DIRTY GLASS!!!"

Road to Utopia (1945) - IMDb

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8 minutes ago, Ray Faiola said:

Yes, that was the cherry on top of the high water mark for the ROAD pictures. But beginning during the war years the code seemed to give more leeway to comedies. HI DIDDLE DIDDLE is a good example.

Road to Utopia was actually filmed during the war, December 1943 to January 1944 before being held up for release in February, 1946 to big box office results. I haven't seen Hi Diddle Diddle.

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Yeah, a bit surprising for the times.  And even in the supposed "enlightened" '60's those sort of implications might have been considered too unseemy for television audiences.  But this show did get away with-----

You do notice who the Farkle children more resemble, eh?  ;)  :D 

Sepiatone

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4 hours ago, TomJH said:

growls at Dumbrille, "IN A DIRTY GLASS!!!"

Omigod-that was my older brother's line EVERY time he was asked if he'd like something to drink for years. Guess it was really funny to a 10-12 year old.

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1 hour ago, Tikisoo said:

Omigod-that was my older brother's line EVERY time he was asked if he'd like something to drink for years. Guess it was really funny to a 10-12 year old.

Well, I'm a little older than 12 and I find it funny too, at least the way Hope delivered the line.

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6 hours ago, TomJH said:

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the film, though, is its final joke . . .

I think it's a pretty good joke upon which to end the comedy but I'm a little surprised the Production Code of 1946 allowed the filmmakers to get away with it.

A similar gag appears in the 1937 Warner Bros "comedy," Sh! The Octopus.

 

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7 hours ago, LuckyDan said:

The joke is the kid looks likes Bing. The line "we adopted him" is what saves it from the code. 

Jokes could get by under the code when much is implied, and then possibly explained away.    Of course, the joke is fortified by the "adoption" remark, while offering a plausible out.   Great joke.

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7 hours ago, TomJH said:

The fourth film in the famous comedy series and one of the funniest, with lots of wacky humour and breaking of the Fourth Wall, this one is largely told in flashback, sandwiched by two scenes in which the three stars are presented as old people. Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour are married, surprisingly, and receive a visit for the first time in 40 years by a white haired Bing Crosby, who shows up at their door with a pair of beautiful young women clinging to his arms. There's a bit of dialogue between them then the flashback begins, telling what there is of the film's story.

Road to Utopia (1945) - IT CAME FROM THE BOTTOM SHELF!

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the film, though, is its final joke.

As the flashback wraps up the story returns us to its three stars in old people makeup once again when Lamour makes reference to her son with Hope. Crosby expresses surprise at the news they have children.

"Would you like to see him?" Lamour asks then calls out, "Junior!"

Walking down the stairs is their son the spitting image of Bing Crosby (who plays the role). "You call me, Mom?" he asks.

The "old" Crosby is clearly uncomfortable, shifting his eyes back and forth and ducking his head a little low.

Hope then leans into the camera for a closeup as he says "We adopted him."

The End.

I think it's a pretty good joke upon which to end the comedy but I'm a little surprised the Production Code of 1946 allowed the filmmakers to get away with it.

Mind you Hollywood was dealing with more socially daring topics than before after the war. It's been years since I saw To Each His Own, with Olivia de Havilland, released the same year as Utopia, but I believe that film dealt with illegitimate children, didn't it?

I suspect this joke ending Utopia would not have gotten past the censor when the first Road film was made in 1940. I guess the movies were slowly growing up. Still, for a 1946 comedy to end with this joke (again I think it's a good one) takes me a little bit by surprise.

Anyone else feel this way?

My dad told me that when he saw Road to Utopia in a first run theater, the audience erupted with "raucous howls," the likes of which he'd never heard before or since.  It would have been fun to be there.

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3 hours ago, Ray Faiola said:

Yes, and Robert Benchley had passed away by the time the picture was released.

Road to Utopia had its American release three months after Benchley's death at age 56 (sadly, due to his drinking). The film had been shown to American troops during the war before receiving its general release to the public.

The only Road film to be told in flashback, the only one set in a cold climate and the only one in which Hope wound up with Lamour (unless you count Rio, in which Bob cheats by hypnotizing Dottie), Road to Utopia was also, I believe, the biggest box office hit of the 7 film series.

Road to Utopia (Paramount, 1946). Half Sheet (22" X 28"). Style B. | Lot  #54380 | Heritage Auctions

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In New Yorker critic John Lahr’s profile of Bob Hope (reprinted in Lahr’s book Show and Tell), this exchange from Hope’s radio show is quoted:

Dorothy Lamour:   Don’t take me seriously, Bob.  I’m only pulling your leg.

Bob Hope:  Listen, Dottie — You can pull my right leg.  And you can pull my left leg.  But don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.

I suppose this racy joke — a play on the lyrics from the song “Accentuate the Positive” — may have made it to the airwaves because it was being performed live, beyond the reach of a post-hoc censor.

Road to Utopia has always been my favorite of the series, and that last gag in the film is one of the funniest I’ve ever seen in any movie.  (My wife is also particularly fond of the “in a dirty glass” joke, as am I.)  We have a lobby card from the movie, autographed by Dorothy Lamour, hanging on our wall.

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47 minutes ago, BingFan said:

In New Yorker critic John Lahr’s profile of Bob Hope (reprinted in Lahr’s book Show and Tell), this exchange from Hope’s radio show is quoted:

Dorothy Lamour:   Don’t take me seriously, Bob.  I’m only pulling your leg.

Bob Hope:  Listen, Dottie — You can pull my right leg.  And you can pull my left leg.  But don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.

I suppose this racy joke — a play on the lyrics from the song “Accentuate the Positive” — may have made it to the airwaves because it was being performed live, beyond the reach of a post-hoc censor.

Road to Utopia has always been my favorite of the series, and that last gag in the film is one of the funniest I’ve ever seen in any movie.  (My wife is also particularly fond of the “in a dirty glass” joke, as am I.). We have a lobby card from the movie, autographed by Dorothy Lamour, hanging in our wall.

That's a pretty racy joke alright, BingFan, and a funny one, too. Sometimes it's good when the censors aren't around, particularly when it comes to some risque humour.

Many fans seem to point to Road to Morocco as the funniest film of the series. Quite frankly I like four of them without a clear favourite, Zanzibar, Morocco, Utopia and Rio, made when Bing and Bob were young and on top of their game, in full demonstration of that remarkable chemistry they had on screen.

I read a recent review of Morocco in which the reviewer didn't think the humour of the film was dated. In fact he even thought it felt contemporary since there was an unexpected cruelty beneath some of it, no matter how much the presentation may have been played down with jokes. When the boys are starving survivors on a raft at sea Bing is talking of eating Bob ("You wouldn't like me," Bob pleads, "Once I bit my tongue and I tasted awful"). Later Crosby sells Hope into slavery without a clue what will happen to him. When Bing soon after discovers Hope well ensconced in a palace and is taken prisoner Bob dismisses his pleas for help by telling the guards to throw him to the crocodiles. Princess Lamour saves Crosby from meeting that fate while Bob seems quite content to let Bing become a reptile treat.

I didn't notice that same cruelty beneath the humour to be the case when I watched Road to Utopia which plays, in many ways, like a parody on stage melodramas.

 

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14 hours ago, Allhallowsday said:

Jokes could get by under the code when much is implied, and then possibly explained away.    Of course, the joke is fortified by the "adoption" remark, while offering a plausible out.   Great joke.

It’s obviously the code-ducking safety, but Hope’s fourth-wall delivery was clearly the intentional “We had to put that in, folks… 😏 “ wink to the audience.

The Road movies lived by their fourth-wall gags, like Utopia’s gag about the two seeing their “bread-and-butter” mountain—The mountain turns into the Paramount logo, and Bob quips to Bing, “It may be just a mountain to you, but it’s bread-and-butter to me….  🗻

Second favorite fourth-wall Road gag has to be from the 50’s post-series revival Road to Bali, where the two are walking through the jungle—“We must be in Africa….And there’s Humphrey Bogart! (stock clip from The African Queen)”.   Bing picks up “And here’s his Oscar!” and Bob grabs it away:  “Gimme that!  You’ve already got one! 🏆  "

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3 hours ago, Allhallowsday said:

Jokes could get by under the code when much is implied,

Yes, and this reminds me of watching those old "What's My Line" episodes, and being reminded of how well the panelists on that show such as Arlene Francis, Dorothy Kilgallen, Bennett Cerf, Fred Allen, et al, possessed the subtle wit, sophistication and good taste to be able to  simply "imply" what in essence would be a thinly veiled racy or risque comment.

(...and I'll bet I'm not the only one here who has noticed this if they've happened to watch those old reruns of that game show) 

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21 minutes ago, Dargo said:

I'll bet I'm not the only one here who has noticed this if they've happened to watch those old reruns of that game show

Think Hollywood Squares

PETER MARSHALL"Can a pea last 5,000 years?" 

GEORGE GOBEL : "It sure can seem that way..." 

 

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1 hour ago, Allhallowsday said:

Think Hollywood Squares

PETER MARSHALL"Can a pea last 5,000 years?" 

GEORGE GOBEL : "It sure can seem that way..." 

 

Ah, and then there's THIS little classic...

"Okay, Paul Lynde for the block.  Paul,  can you swim faster in the nude?"

689057&ehk=MQ88q3AjjankjIu6EuFuITgZXe6GQ

                                                                   "No, but it helps me steer!"              

                                

 

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Btw Allhallows, there would of course be a slight little difference in a comparison between "What's My Line" and with "Hollywood Squares" (besides their basic format, that is) and that being that on that latter, the celebs had before time been given some idea of the questions that they would be asked, and whereas on the former, all the witty remarks said by the panelists and by the show's urbane host John Charles Daly were almost exclusively off-the-cuff.

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