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Although Hope, Crosby and Lamour were teaming together for the fifth time in a Road movie, the format and style remain fresh, with a greater emphasis on song and a more rigid plot-line than in its four predecessors. The interplay between the three stars continues to be a delight, and Gale Sondergaard makes for a wonderful villain, whilst the Wiere Brothers almost steal the show as a trio of Rio street entertainers whom Bing and Bob persuade to impersonate the last three members of the five-piece all-American band that they have promised to deliver into Nestor Paiva's nightclub. There are a number of hilarious set-pieces, particularly with Hope cycling on a tightrope, and a rousing and manic climax. As a result of all these fine features, "Road to Rio" is only a notch down from my favourite Road picture, "Road to Utopia".
Another journey with Bob, Bing, and Dotty, this time the boys are
escaping the law and a couple of shotgun wielding fathers in Bing's
case. They stowaway on a boat bound for Rio De Janeiro and they meet
damsel in distress Dotty with her "aunt" Gale Sondergaard and her two
henchmen Frank Faylen and Joseph Vitale. Dragon lady Gale has been
hypnotizing Dottie to force her into a marriage so that her inheritance
can be swindled.
The Road pictures always had a usual pattern of songs. A ballad for Crosby, a ballad for Lamour, and some patter songs for Crosby and Hope. Crosby sings one of his nicest ballads with But Beautiful. Hope and Crosby do Appalachicola, Fla and Dottie does an unforgettable version of Experience accompanied by Hope playing a bubble blowing trumpet.
Bing Crosby's most frequent singing partners were the Andrews Sisters on record. They did enough material to fill more than three of those old fashioned vinyl LPs. But their only appearance in a movie with Bing is here and they sing You Don't Have To Know The Language with him as an extra treat.
See it and figure out for yourself what was in those "papers" that the world was better off in blissful ignorance of.
Considering that The Road to Rio was the fifth in the series, that the
formula was down pat, that the plot, as usual, was merely an excuse for
spontaneous and not-so-spontaneous bantering by the two stars, that the
money-to-effort ratio was by now very satisfying to nearly all
concerned, and that Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, both at 44, were quickly
reaching the point where their age was working against their image of
happy-go-lucky, sex-on-their- minds, slightly dumb but well-intentioned
good guys...well, this is one of the best in the series. There's no
single thing that sets it apart. If we've watched even one other in the
series, we know what's going to happen, like having a funny, loved
uncle come to visit. I think that in The Road to Rio, the formula had
reached a high gloss. The "spontaneity" of the back and forth between
Hope and Crosby is quick, funny and friendly. The professionalism may
be there, but it looks like they're still having fun making these
movies. The jokes are corny and expected, as they were back in 1947,
but Hope and Crosby give them a level of snap and comfort that make us
smile. Their roles, Bing Crosby as Scat Sweeney, singer and slightly
moth-eaten bon vivant, and Bob Hope as Hot Lips Barton, slow-witted but
wise- cracking boy-man, are as comfortable to them and us as a pair of
old slippers. They work their images both in the plot and in real life
for every laugh they can squeeze. Says Scat Sweeney (Crosby) to Hot
Lips Barton (Hope), "Swine!" Barton: "Pig!" Scat Crosby: "That's the
same as swine." Hot Lips Hope: "All right. Ham!" Or this: Scat Crosby,
"Are you admitting you're a dirty coward?" Hot Lips Hope, "No, a clean
one!" These groaners were well aged at the turn of the century, but
Hope and Crosby knew their stuff. Dorothy Lamour as the always exotic
love interest is here, of course, providing a rationale for the two
boys' raging hormones and the subsequent competition that provides much
of the plot's backbone and laughs. Says Hot Lips Hope as he stares at
Lamour's tight gown, "How'd you put that on...with a spray-gun?" And
there are the many asides to the audience that was one of the
trademarks of the series. When Hot Lips Hope finds himself hanging off
a high wire, he starts screaming, "Help! Help!" Then he turns to the
camera and confides in us, "You know, this picture could end right
But let's not just praise this highly polished piece of pleasurable, profitable professionalism. Buried in the movie is a uniquely eccentric and expert trio of brothers, Harry, Herbert and Sylvester. They were the Wiere Brothers, and a single description fails to do them justice. They were comics, dancers, gymnasts, singers, jugglers, players of all sorts of musical instruments and very funny men. They came to the States from Germany in the mid-Thirties after a successful European career in clubs and circuses. They were born to entertainers who moved around. Harry showed up in Berlin in 1906, Herbert appeared in Vienna in 1908 and Sylvester arrived in Prague in 1909. They soon were a part of their parent's act. In their early teens they organized their own routines.
I think Hollywood and America simply didn't know what to make of them. They made a handful of movies, only one of which really showcased their skills and appeal. They eventually settled down to a successful career in nightclubs and special appearances on television. In The Road to Rio they play three Brazilian street musicians. Scat Crosby and Hot Lips Hope encounter them while the two boys are trying to rescue Dorothy Lamour from a nefarious plot. We get a chance to see the brothers bandy schtick with Hope and Crosby. Unfortunately, they get only one chance to show us what they can do in performance, and that scene is chopped up and was severely edited. Still, it's better than nothing.
Their showcase spot was in the first movie they made when they came to America. That's Vogues of 1938, which starred Warner Baxter and a blonde Joan Bennett. We get a full routine from the Wiere Brothers, dressed in white tuxes, dancing eccentrically, bouncing and rolling, doing wonders with hats, playing violins and singing. They are funny, endearing and terrific.
ROAD TO RIO (Paramount, 1947), directed by Norman Z. McLeod, marks the
fifth installment to the popular "in name only" comedy series featuring
that famous trio of Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. Unlike
its preceding adventures of ROAD TO ZANZIBAR (1941), MOROCCO (1942) and
UTOPIA (1946), ROAD TO RIO is no doubt funnier than its initial entry,
ROAD TO SINGAPORE (1940), yet coming across on its own merits
presenting itself almost like a straight-forward musical-comedy than
its predecessors consisting of offbeat situations, talking animals and
formalistic Hollywood in-jokes. Certain aspects, however, ranging from
opening titles bearing animated names of its principal players dancing
across the screen; to the wide-eyed/ bushy-mustached Jerry Colonna
coming from nowhere leading his calvary on horseback belting out a long
wide yell; Hope and Crosby's "patty-cake" routine and witty comedy
lines are true reminders of this being very much a part of the "Road"
adventures the public then has grown to love so well.
The plot gets off to a really good start in a carnival where the smooth talking "Scat" Sweeney (Bing Crosby) has his pal "Hot-Lips" Barton (Bob Hope) doing a high wire bicycle act leading to disastrous results before the carnival catches fire, burning to the ground. To avoid capture by an angry boss and mob, the boys make a run for it, ending up as stowaways taking refuge in a lifeboat of the S.S. Queen bound for Rio. During their voyage, they encounter the beautiful Lucia Maria De Andrade (Dorothy Lamour) traveling with her aunt, Catherine Vail (Gale Sondergaard). As Scat and Hot Lips each vie for Lucia's affections, they become confused by her sudden mood changes (from "I love you," to "I hate you," I loathe you," "I despise you" ...) reactions, unaware she's actually under a hypnotic trance by her aunt, whose intentions are for her to forget about these men and concentrate on her forthcoming marriage. Upon their arrival in Rio, Scat and Hot Lips obtain jobs working for Mr. Cardoso (Nestor Paiva) in his nightclub with three odd-ball musicians (The Wiere Brothers) who don't speak any English, before braving Mrs. Vail's henchmen (Frank Faylen and Joseph Vitale) disguised as a pirate and Caribbean dancer, to entertain at Lucia's wedding, to extremely funny results.
In between Hope and Crosby antics and Lamour's hypnotic trance, song interludes by Johnny Burke and James Van Heusen enter the scene, including: "We're on Our Way" (sung by Bing Crosby and Bob Hope); American standards of "Swanee River" (by Stephen Foster), and "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" (by James A. Bland); "But Beautiful" (sung by Crosby); "You Have to Know the Language" (sung and performed by Crosby and the Andrews Sisters); "Experience" (sung by Dorothy Lamour); and "Brasilia (I Yi Yi)." Crosby's performing on board ship with the Andrews Sisters (Laverne, Patti and Maxene), a popular singing trio during the World War II years, ranks one of the film's several highlights. For being the longest (100 minutes) in the "Road" series, Crosby's vocalizing of "But Beautiful" to Lamour was usually one that got deleted from most television prints during the 1970s and 80s to fill in enough commercial breaks during its standard two hour time slot.
This highly entertaining and worthwhile "Road" entry, formerly presented on American Movie Classics (1997-2001), is often hailed as the last great "Road" comedy, though certainly not its finish. ROAD TO BALI (1952) and THE ROAD TO HONG KONG (1962) came after-wards, indicating its popularity was best suited for the 1940s rather than the forthcoming decades. With all "Road" comedies placed on home video and DVD over the years, ROAD TO RIO not only has had limited TV revivals in recent years, but labeled as one being "out of print" by DVD distributors. With the overplayed ROAD TO MOROCCO listed among one of the greatest comedies by the American Film Institute, ROAD TO RIO, with Crosby, Hope and Lamour at their finest, is certainly entertaining enough to merit attention and availability for future generations to endure. (***1/2)
Another Road picture with Bob, Bing and Dorothy. As always there are moments of hilarity. This one is with the Wiere Brothers as non-English speaking street musicians who hook up with the gang. We first see the Wiere's putting on their music and dance routine in front of a small crowd. Then Bing gets them to join he and Bobs little combo. Bing teaches them a few words of English to get by. They encounter nightclub manager Nestor Paiva (Best known as Lucas from Creature from the Black Lagoon) and use their newfound language on him. Comedy is comedy now matter how old it is and this scene with the Wiere Brothers is still hilarious.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Since the very first Road To.. Picture back in 1940, each subsequent
entry in the series seemed to build on its wacky and manic content,
with each becoming slightly more off the wall and crazy as the last.
However when the fifth entry was released in 1947, for some reason things were toned down a tad, making the Road to Rio, although still funny and enjoyable appear to lack the quirkiness and zany antics of what had gone before.
The banter and wise cracks between our two heroes is as good as ever, and the musical numbers up to par as well, but in spite of this, I always have a problem associating this film with any other in the series. It seems out on it's own; out on a limb.
Maybe it's because unlike its predecessors, the gang are not lost in the untamed wild of somewhere or other, perhaps its the lack of talking animals, or perhaps it has more to do with the fact that this story actually has a plot; a real story you can follow instead of the more customary and formulaic half-hearted story onto which a few gags and songs had been pinned.
Still the film is enjoyable and very funny, with The Andrew Sisters, Bing's other frequent stalwarts from radio and record, joining in on the fun for 'You Don't Have to Know the Language' and a delightful comic turn from The Weire Brothers as three local boys trying to pass themselves off as red blooded Americans, despite only knowing three slang terms in English which had been taught to them by Hope and Crosby just minutes before.
As I said you will enjoy this entry very much but you will probably find this movie more akin to a Bob Hope 'My Favorite Blonde/Brunette' kind of comedy than anything so far seen in the 'Road To...' franchise
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hope and Crosby play two vaudevillians who entertain at a circus, and
they are given extra money for Hope to ride a bicycle along a
tightrope. Unfortunately Hope falls and accidentally sets the circus on
fire, and the vaudevillians flee and stow away on board a ship bound
for Brazil. En route, they encounter a suicidal woman being coerced
into a marriage she doesn't want, and get involved.
The movie does have a sinister story and frightening villains, but it has plenty of fun scenes of singing and dancing and clowning, with appearances by the Andrews sisters and the Weire Brothers. Fun entertainment for all.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the fifth in a series of seven "Road" done by Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour. I really like the first six movies in the series. Sure it is underdone by today's standards and the comedy and acting is old school. I find that to be refreshing compared to the comedy movies of the current time line. The three Weire brothers come very close to stealing the movie. They are good musicians and obviously worked very hard on their routines and they are funny as well. The Andrews Sisters show up almost like an after thought. They are a treat to watch when they sing and once in a great while one or more of them actually gets to act a little. I love the guy with the huge stache who leads the cavalry charge and has the big voice!!! The whole plot of the movie is B & B saving the heiress from the bad guys and of course they get it done.
"Road to Rio" is perhaps not the best of the "Road" films but I think
it has the most entertaining interludes. Bing and the Andrews Sisters'
rendition of "You Don't Have to Know the Language" is my favourite
"Road" musical interlude. I love Bing's seemingly effortless movements
and singing. Bing apparently rehearsed for many hours in order to make
his dance movements look as though he had made them up on the spot. Of
his singing he once said that he tried to make it seem to any man that
he could sound as good whilst in the shower.His casual style masks his
dedication to his craft. The Andrews Sisters performance is a match for
Bing's class and style. Has any singing group sounded so right?
The second interlude is performed by the Wiere Brothers. I have never seen anything as charmingly eccentric and clever. Their routine has you guessing what they will come up with next and what comes next is unexpected and delightfully witty. I am so glad to have seen the brothers in "Road to Rio" because apparently there is very little of their routines on film.
It is also good to see Gale Sondergaard in a type of role she made her own - mysterious evil with a beautiful face and body. Disney used her as the model for the evil Queen in Sleeping Beauty. Sondergaard was to play the Wicked Witch of the West in "The Wizard of Oz" until it was decided that the witch should be ugly. Sondergaard rejected the role and she was right. Her portrayals of evil were not the ugly kind; they were sensual, sophisticated, dark and hypnotic.
Road to Rio is directed by Norman McLeod and written by Edmund Beloin
and Jack Rose. It stars Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour, Gale
Sondergaard and Frank Faylen. Music is by Robert Emmett and
cinematography by Ernest Laszlo.
Hope and Crosby star as two vaudevillians, who after setting a circus on fire, stow away on a liner bound for Brazil. Once there they encounter a distressed woman (Lamour) who is being coerced into an unwanted marriage by her scheming guardian.
The fifth in the hugely popular "Road To" series of films, Rio follows the same trajectory as before. For fans such as myself this is OK, other film fans venturing in for a first time look may be a bit bemused by it all. In fairness this one does have a solid story at its core, with hypnotism the dastardly weapon of choice, while McLeod neatly blends the comedy and musical numbers and keeps the pace brisk. Hope gets some well written topical gags to deliver and Crosby croons whilst also getting to do a number with The Andrews Sisters. In support the wonderful Sondergaard turns in another one of her memorable villainess performances, and The Wiere Brothers form part of the narrative to produce great comedic results.
With a blazing first quarter, a jovial middle section and a genuinely hilarious finale, Road to Rio achieves everything a "Road To" fan could wish for. 7.5/10
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