Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

ROAD TO UTOPIA, tonight at 8pm (EST)


TomJH
 Share

Recommended Posts

If I had to use just three words to best sum up my continuing affection for Bing Crosby, they would probably be . . . the Road films.

 

Tonight TCM is showing one of the best in the series, Road to Utopia. It plays in many respects like a takeoff of stage melodramas, this one taking Bing and Bob to Alaska, the land of dastardly villains, dog sled pursuits, talking bears and fish and, more importantly, Dorothy Lamour looking slinky as a saloon singer.

 

I think the situations are funnier in this one than some of their others in the series, and the wit is a little stronger. Crosby was pretty well at the peak of his career when this one was filmed (1944) and released (end of 1945). Bing received an Academy Award in the spring of '45 for his Going My Way performance, and would be the star (along with Ingrid Bergman) of 1945's biggest box office success, The Bells of St. Marys.

 

But, speaking for myself, give me Crosby paling around with (and betraying, at times) Bob Hope any day over those two sentimental priest films, or any of the rather bland Paramount musicals in which he appeared, always highlighted, it seems to me, by their hit parade songs.

 

Bob Hope's own popularity was building enormously through the WW2 years, of course, as well, much of that due of his rivalry, insults and on screen partnership with Crosby.

 

Whatever I may think of the sometimes dated aspects of the Road films, and the at times lame humour of some of the jokes, I am always struck by one thing, at least: and that is the extraordinary chemistry that Hope and Crosby had on screen, among the most potent that I have ever seen between two male stars.

 

Crosby was the always the smoother of the two, of course, including his way with the ladies, while Hope was the fresh faced funny guy, the boy-next-door smart aleck who could also turn, at times, almost as larcenous as Bing in their sometimes rivalry.

 

I love those moments in the films in which the boys broke "the fourth wall", those moments when one of them will speak directly to the camera (and audience), for example, acknowledging the fact that the audience is watching a movie.

 

There is, for example, a moment in one of their films (it may even be in tonight's, Utopia) in which, after Lamour has just given Hope a particularly steamy, hair curling kiss, Bob turns to the camera and says, "As far as I'm concerned, this picture is over, folks!" as he then wants to resume the kissing big time and to heck with this movie making stuff.

 

Utopia does have another great inside joke moment. At one point Bing and Bob are on a dog sled, and Bing makes reference to a mountain nearby.

 

"That may be a mountain to you," Hope responds, "but it's bread and butter to me" as stars alight atop the mountain representing the Paramount Studios' logo seen at the start of all their films.

 

But one of the great things about the Crosby and Hope on screen partnership is the revelation that Bing is almost as funny as Bob. Part of Crosby's charm was that he was a natural light comedian, always ready to poke fun at himself to a degree (the ear and fat jokes from Bob, for example). Bing was never the dancer, of course, that a hoofer like Hope was. But I love Bing's dancing on screen because he's not afraid to look a little foolish and out of his element and, I suppose, at those moments he is also representing the rest of us non-Astaire types up on the big screen.

 

Road to Utopia has a lot of funny moments in it, in my opinion. One of the highlights for me occurs in a saloon. At this point in the silly story line Bing and Bob have disguised themselves as a pair of notorious killers named Sperry and McGurk.

 

They walk around initially with foot long fake beards and try to give deadly looks to everyone, trying to make like they're meaner than junkyard dogs, as the great Jim Croce might appreciate. You can almost see the fleas jumping from Bing's beard to Bob's. After a while they shave off those beavers but they're still playing it "tough."

 

Then comes the moment I love in the saloon when the bartender asks Hope what kind of drink he'll have.

 

"Oh, I'll have a lemonade," Bob replies, without thinking.

 

When the bad guys around him start to react to that "sissy" drink request, Hope immediately growls, "IN A DIRTY GLASS!!!"

 

That may not play so funny in print. You're missing Hope's wonderful timing and delivery of the line, of course. But the first (and perhaps second) time I saw Road to Utopia people had to pick me off the floor to stop my rolling around on it from my reaction to that comedy line.

 

So, for those who enjoy Bing and Bob, particularly, like me, when they're together, have fun tonight with one of their best, ROAD TO UTOPIA - dirty glass and all.

 

4c37ef81-c6e7-4e75-b6a8-7b270006dbbf_zps

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Definitely the top of the ROAD entries.  The picture was filmed in 1943 when Robert Benchley and W. C. Fields were both still alive (the latter the butt of a hilarious gag). Military personnel saw the picture two years before theatrical audiences when it was released in 1946.

 

Holiday trivia - Santa Claus is played by Ferdinand Munier, who also played the jolly jent in Hal Roach's BABES IN TOYLAND.

 

And be sure and catch Crosby's underbreath remark about Hilda, the oil man's daughter!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not always in the mood for a road picture, but this is the right movie at the right time for me.  Hope and Crosby were watched in my home as I grew up and their gags and general silliness bring a familiar, carefree, innocent time back for just a short while.   Looking forward to it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

And be sure and catch Crosby's underbreath remark about Hilda, the oil man's daughter!!!

 

0d753e93-ec4f-4f9a-8e34-862374dc0429_zps

 

The boys, in the midst of discussing some of the women they have known:

 

Crosby: "Anyhow, didn't I front for you in Oklahoma?"

 

Hope: "Hilda, the oil man's daughter?"

 

Crosby: "Sent you in there."

 

Hope: "Was she born, or did they have to drill for her?"

 

Crosby and Hope in their primes as performers, during the 1940s, never better, for my money, than when bouncing off one another. Hope, a master of fast talk delivery, but with Bing proving to be his equal when teamed with him.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

0d753e93-ec4f-4f9a-8e34-862374dc0429_zps

 

The boys, in the midst of discussing some of the women they have known:

 

Crosby: "Anyhow, didn't I front for you in Oklahoma?"

 

Hope: "Hilda, the oil man's daughter?"

 

Crosby: "Sent you in there."

 

Hope: "Was she born, or did they have to drill for her?"

 

Crosby and Hope in their primes as performers, during the 1940s, never better, for my money, than when bouncing off one another. Hope, a master of fast talk delivery, but with Bing proving to be his equal when teamed with him.

 

Okay, maybe it wasn't Hilda.  During the scene they mentioned one girl and Crosby remarked "what a right hand!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, maybe it wasn't Hilda.  During the scene they mentioned one girl and Crosby remarked "what a right hand!"

 

And that's what I've come to love about the "road" pictures....it's almost more fun finally understanding some of the more "blue" one-liners never caught as a kid!

 

I will never forget a screening I attended where a girl sits on Hope's right knee and another girl sits on his left knee and he quips,

 

"Gosh, wish I had a third leg!"

 

(all eyes fell on me when I busted out laughing)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

© 2023 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...