On the "Road" with HOPE & CROSBY

By Gehring, Wes | USA TODAY, November 2000 | Go to article overview

On the "Road" with HOPE & CROSBY


Gehring, Wes, USA TODAY


Through seven audience-pleasing films, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby made parody a staple of movie comedies.

THIS YEAR commemorates the 60th anniversary of the first Bob Hope and Bing Crosby "Road" picture--"Road to Singapore" (1940). During the next 22 years, the six additional installments of the series: "Road to Zanzibar" (1941), "Road to Morocco" (1942), "Road to Utopia" (1945), "Road to Rio" (1947), "Road to Bali" (1952), and "Road to Hong Kong" (1962), made the Road pictures what is regarded as the most acclaimed comedy series in the history of American motion pictures.

Besides being the ultimate spoof of the action adventure genre, the Road pictures are a parody of Hollywood itself. As one might assume, given the celebrated nature of the series, the magic of this parody was immediately recognized. In 1940, the Hollywood Reporter was probably the most perceptive in its praise of "Road to Singapore": "In pairing Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, Paramount has created one of the greatest comedy teams in film history ... a demand for more of the same is an unqualified certainty."

The immediate critical and commercial success of the pictures was not lost on Hope, who used them as one more topic in his 1940s stand-up patter on stage and for radio. The subject also surfaced in the first of his numerous self-deprecatingly comic autobiographies, They Got Me Covered (1941): "I don't know what will happen in our next picture ... the `Road to Morocco' but anyway, [perpetual Road love interest Dorothy Lamour], Bing, and I are having a lot of fun ... besides I'm getting a salary for my performance in these `Road' pictures ... which, as one critic pointed out, is a perfect example of highway robbery."

That critic notwithstanding, the Road pictures helped bring an "A" film coolness to a genre (parody) which was often less than respected by the arbiters of cinema taste. Thus, in no time at all, America's favorite sometime team of Hope and Crosby had entertainingly mapped out what are still the same eight fundamental parameters of parody.

First, the spoof, an affectionately comic sideswiping of a genre and/or artist, should be funny even without viewer expertise on the subject under comic attack. For example, a pivotal source of Hope and Crosby's humor is their continual bickering at each other. Action adventure movies frequently have some sort of ongoing rivalry between male leads, such as the love-hate relationship of Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., in "Gunga Din" (1939), a movie not without its own parody components.

The Hope and Crosby bickering also draws upon a comic "feud" originating in their competing late-1930s radio programs. No doubt this was inspired by earlier radio feuds between Jack Benny and Fred Allen and/or W.C. Fields and Edgar Bergen's dummy, Charlie McCarthy. Period fans of the Road pictures would have had the added bonus of recognizing this shtick move from radio to screen. Nevertheless, the bickering, in and of itself. is funny, whether one knows the action adventure and radio connections or not. For instance, when the pair lose an amateur talent contest in "Road to Utopia," Bob says in an aside, "Next time, I'll bring [singer Frank] Sinatra." Ski-nosed Hope usually had the last comic word, but there were exceptions, such as Crosby's "Road to Morocco" quip after a steaming Lamour kiss straightened out the decoratively curled toe slippers Bob was wearing: "Now kiss him on the nose, and see if you can straighten that out."

While Bob's nose was often Bing's verbal target, Hope kidded a myriad of Crosby characteristics, from protruding ears to a modest paunch. Thus, in "Road to Rio," Bob refers to Bing as everything from "lobster ears" to "bean belly." Hope's favorite Crosby target was the crooner's voice. Besides the aforementioned examples, my all-time favorite quip on the subject comes from "Road to Bali," when Bob refers to Bing as the "collapsible Como," referring to Perry Como, a popular period singer with a Crosby-like style. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

On the "Road" with HOPE & CROSBY
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.