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I quite enjoyed the Bob Hope noir spoof My Favorite Brunette, which also starred Road to... straight woman Dorothy Lamour and featured Bing Crosby in a brief cameo in the last scene. What with the classic status of this particular series I assumed I would get even more of a kick out of this, the first entry, The Road to Singapore. Unfortunately the film just doesn't have much kick to give.
On the whole it's a rather dull affair that only attempts one or two comic set pieces and pads out the rest of the film with some pretty unimpressive dialog. The only bit that even brought a smile to my face was when Hope and Crosby, trying to con a native crowd into buying their sham cleaning products, recruited the hapless Jerry Colonna and proceeded to decimate his immaculate white suit. The writing is entirely by-the-numbers with very little flair for the comedic, wasting Charles Coburn as Crosby's father. Lamour is charismatic and lovable as the dancer that Hope and Crosby rescue from an abusive showman, but she doesn't get much to do besides look pretty and dispense maternal affection. I wish she'd been allowed to do a little comedy, but then the boys don't get to do much of it either, at that, so I suppose that's a bit of a moot point.
I'm a big fan of musicals from the 1930s, but the obligatory songs in The Road to Singapore are pretty flaccid and uninspired. Like those in a Marx Brothers picture you spend too much time just waiting for the singing to be over. Of course the Marx Brothers got back to their hilarious routines when the musical numbers ended, but nobody remembers to do that in this movie.
Most of the love for this series seems to be centered on one or two of the various sequels. I liked the cast of The Road to Singapore, but the problem was the material, so if future outings prepared them with a better script then I'm all for checking them out. In the meanwhile if while traveling you find this road to be the one less traveled, take the other one.
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