Road to Zanzibar (1941) Poster

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Good Old Fashioned Jungle Fun
bkoganbing29 June 2004
A previous reviewer said something interesting about this second Road picture being a satire on all those Hollywood jungle epics. A pet peeve of mine has always been that American's concepts of Africa came out of those films. We were not in the imperialist game in Africa which was good, but we also knew nothing about these people, their politics and culture, and in some respects we're paying for that ignorance.

That being said, I can't hold up Road to Zanzibar for that kind of criticism. It's a comedy and a funny one. With the success of the Road to Singapore and the obvious chemistry between Bob and Bing, the boys could now unload their monkeyshines on the audience full blast.

This film marked the beginning of a long association between composer James Van Heusen and Bing Crosby. Van Heusen was replacing Jimmy Monaco as partner to Johnny Burke, lyricist, and this was the first of many Crosby films they would score.

And the songs followed the usual Road picture pattern. Bing starts the movie off by singing You Lucky People You under the opening credits and continuing it in the opening scene at a carnival sideshow, a nice patented Crosby philosophical number. Dotty sings You're Dangerous while trying to vamp Hope the schnook. But then Bing croons to Dotty It's Always You another ballad and finally Hope and Crosby have a patter number Birds of a Feather sung in up tempo as the law is closing in. In that same scene is Eric Blore, better known for Fred Astaire films and he contributes to the clowning with a nice touch.

In a sense this is the first real Road picture because Singapore didn't have a lot of the spontaneity the others do because no one figured it would be such a hit. So get out and hit the Road.
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Good Fun
rmax3048233 August 2004
Of the comedy teams that made a series of movies in the 1940s and 1950s, Hope and Crosby were probably the most engagingly amusing.

Abbott and Costello were usually silly. Their movies seemed aimed at an audience of children, although some, like "Meet Frankenstein", are outrageous. There was an element of sadism too, with Abbott (always the humorless straight man) slapping the helpless Costello around and snarling at him, a standard relationship left over I guess from vaudeville where clowns batted each other over the head with bladders.

Martin and Lewis were clearly differentiated. Martin was the parent and Lewis was the twelve-year-old child. It all seems a bit much, now.

But Hope and Crosby were the most nearly equal. Crosby was the smooth-talking crooner. Both were cowards but Hope was a braggart too, a stock figure in the comedies of Ancient Rome and afterward. I think the figure was called miles gloriosus. What they had that the other teams didn't, and what's on good display here, is a kidding quality that consists of trying to outwit one another, competition for the girl (Dorothy Lamour), inside jokes, and a kind of comfortably relaxed unspoken friendship that draws the audience in.

In many ways the funniest scene is when Hope and Crosby realize they've been double crossed by Lamour and set out to find her and tell her off. They discover some shreds of her clothing and conclude, mistakenly, that she's been eaten by leopards and carried off. (Hope: "They didn't even leave an ear. What hogs those leopards are.") The two men try to mourn her passing in a sincere and dignified way but their anger at her keeps simmering to the surface. They interrupt their weeping to recite some poetry over her buried clothing but they don't know any poems. Hope starts off with, "A bunch of the boys were whooping it up/ in the Malamut saloon..." Crosby chides him and instead begins to recite "Casey at the Bat." The scene simply cracks me up. Crosby: "She was just a kid." Hope: "We'll miss her. Even though she was WRONG!" When they realize she's still alive they sneer and kick away the dirt from her "grave."

I don't think of "The Road to Zanzibar" as necessarily their best Road picture, although it's right up there with "Utopia" and "Morocco." It was basically their first though. The earlier "Road to Singapore" lacked the lazy improvisational impression that this one has. "Singapore" seems, in retrospect, too well plotted, if you can imagine. You've gotta give these guys a little room to kick out.

The plot's absurd anyway. Africa on the Paramount set, with phony drums and "natives" and a guy in a gorilla suit engaged in a professional wrestling match with Hope. Actually, Hope's pretty amusing. Woody Allen has said that he picked up quite a few of Hope's comic mannerisms to use in his own performances. (See also Hope's "They've Got Me Covered," a classic of its kind, so to speak.) And Crosby is a necessary counterpart to Hope's physicality. The two work very well together.

I'll have to throw in one of their exchanges. The pair find themselves broke and stranded in a small African town.

Hope (gloomily): "This must be the nowhere that people say they're 500 miles from."

Crosby: "Well don't blame me. We wouldn't be here if you hadn't sold the map to that diamond mine."

Hope: "Hah! It's your fault! If you hadn't bought it I wouldn't have had it. And if I didn't have it I couldn't sell it. So if I couldn't sell it, then we wouldn't be stuck here, would we?"

Crosby: "Nope."

Hope (looks doubtful for a moment, thinking hard): "I don't get it."

Their movies also produced a number of popular songs, some of which have become standards. This one has "It's Always You." Others have songs like "Moonlight Becomes You."

You'll probably enjoy this one. If you're in the proper mood, it will crack you up.
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My least favorite of the Road pictures
vincentlynch-moonoi13 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
It had been a long time since I last watched this Road picture, and a few things caught my eye...and not for the positive. First, this may be a comedy, but part of its premise is built on white sex slavery. Yes, that's actually true. It may all be a confidence scheme, but nevertheless part of the picture is based on Black men buying white women at an auction. The second thing that caught my eye was that there are no good Hope-Crosby musical numbers here. No "Captain Custard", for example. And third, it seemed to me that this film sort of dragged on aimlessly during the second half and never quite got off the ground.

Don't get me wrong. There's plenty that's funny here, not the least of which is the carnival scam at the beginning of the film, and the gorilla wrestling match with Bob Hope. And there is a different sort of role here for Una Merkel that's interesting. And Bing's song "It's Only You" is a very nice ballad. But I tend to agree more with the Variety review which said, in part, "The story framework is pretty flimsy foundation for hanging the series of comedy and thrill situations concocted for the pair. It's a fluffy and inconsequential tale...Comedy episodes generally lack sparkle and tempo of 'Singapore'...."

But, it's still a decent comedy pic, and one that any fan of Hope or Crosby will probably enjoy. And, it was in the top ten grossing films of 1941. But it's still probably my least favorite Road picture.
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eearwigg21 November 2003
I think that Road to Zanzibar is hilarious, one of the best Road movies. The gorilla fight made me laugh the hardest. I would recommend all of the Road movies, if you liked this one. The singing and all of the jokes were great. Bob Hope is one of the funniest people, and in my mind, he is still alive...kinda.
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Not quite, but almost there.
mark.waltz2 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The team of Hope, Crosby and Lamour are back for their second "Road" venture, and while not a sequel, the trio is definitely playing exactly the same characters, although with different names. The formula took, and this time, they are somewhere in Africa, although this is Hollywood's Africa, not Rand McNally's. Starting off in a carnival, Hope literally almost goes up in flames, and soon they are on the run and for some reason end up over the Atlantic and south of the equator where they once again save Dorothy from a predicament, although they're obviously suckers for doing so.

Some neat sets, pretty tunes and racy (as well as racist) humor follows. The parody starts here, with one intended victim of the patty cake game "obviously having seen the movie". When they encounter an African native tribe, one of them quips, "Who's got the dice?" Some of the jokes work. A few others don't, and a few bring groans. Una Merkel has a rather small part as Dorothy's pal. Spoofs of nature documentaries of the time is obvious. This would really hit it's height of the series in the next film where the three went off to Morocco.
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A decent follow-up to ROAD TO SINGAPORE
planktonrules31 August 2009
It's funny, but after seeing ROAD TO ZANZIBAR and ROAD TO MOROCCO in the same night, I have a hard time remembering any of the gags in ZANZIBAR. It's not that it's a bad movie, it certainly isn't, but it also isn't as refined and memorable as the next (3rd) installment in the "Road" series.

Starting with this film, Hope and Crosby begin treating each other a lot worse and this dog eat dog style of humor worked well. A great example is when the film begins we find that Crosby has convinced Hope to become "Fearless Frazier"--a daredevil who is always risking his life in a variety of schemes thought up by Crosby.

Although the film begins in the States, it somehow manages to end up in Africa--with all the usual expected clichés and fun. Not surprisingly, they find cannibals and a gorilla (who is the usual "guy in a gorilla suit"--something seen in practically every jungle picture of the era). And, even less surprisingly, we find Dorothy Lamour (along with her pal, played by screen veteran Una Merkel) in Africa--falling for you-know-who! While none of this is fantastic or inspired, the film is very pleasant and fun. The only serious negative is that there are too many songs, plus none are particularly memorable. A decent follow-up to ROAD TO SINGAPORE, though not one of the very best of the series.
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Paradise Lost
lugonian28 March 2010
ROAD TO ZANZIBAR (Paramount, 1941), directed by Victor Schertzinger, reunites director with his ROAD TO SINGAPORE (1940) players, Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour and Bob Hope. While this edition could very well have been a rehash from their initial teaming or a continuation to where the previous film left off, this second installment, having its major stars assuming new character roles, has not only become a sequel in name only but a much funnier outing by ways of jokes and incidents revolving around Hope and Crosby. Hardly resembling ROAD TO SINGAPORE by any means, ZANZIBAR can easily be categorized as the official opener to what has become relatively known as the "Road Pictures."

The plot revolves around boyhood pals Chuck Reardon (Bing Crosby) and Hubert "Fearless" Frazier (Bob Hope), working in a carnival where Chuck is a smooth talking con man and "Fearless" the daredevil who gets shot out of a cannon flying through a hoop of fire at a distance. Using a dummy in Frazier's place (is there a difference?), the act comes to a halt when the dummy obtains the fire, lands on one of the tents, and burns down the carnival, causing our heroes to make a run for it. Traveling on the road to Mugabund, Kipungo and Molanda, Frazier, after five years of traveling with his pal through sideshow acts, wants to break with the act and return home to Birch Falls. There's one thing standing in his way, and that's Chuck. Having paid Charles Kimball (Eric Blore) $5,000 of his pals savings for the map leading to a diamond mine, it is discovered the map is worthless. Fearless decides to get his money back by passing the map over to Le Bec (Lionel Royce). Discovering he's been tricked, Le Bec and his henchman (Buck Woods) go after them, forcing our heroes to make another run for it, this time on a boat to Zanzibar. While there, Chuck and Fearless meet up with Julia Quimby (Una Merkel), a woman in distress who asks the boys for money to rescue her abducted friend, Donna Latour (Dorothy Lamour) from a slave auction. With all that done, the boys further assist the girls by teaming up in a safari to help Donna locate her long lost brother, who, in actuality is only using the boys to help her meet with J. Theodore Brady, a millionaire whom she plans to marry. Realizing they've been tricked by a couple of American showgirls from Brooklyn, Chuck and Fearless break away from them, getting themselves lost in the jungle and ending up in the middle of a hostile native tribe. Paging Tarzan!

In spite of Dorothy Lamour now being part of the Hope and Crosby teaming, her scenes, though prominent, are actually secondary. While her character as well as Merkel's appears mid-way to limited results before disappearing during another long stretch before reappearing, the film overall belongs to Hope and Crosby from start to finish. Song numbers are at a minimum this time around, with new songs by James Van Husen and Johnny Burke, including: "You Lucky People You" (sung by Bing Crosby during opening titles and story introduction); "African Etude" (sung by natives chanting "Ba-toom-bomba"); "The Road to Zanzibar" (sung by Crosby); "You're Dangerous" (sung by Dorothy Lamour); and "It's Always You" (sung by Crosby). Interestingly, Hope doesn't get to sing any songs this time around. Although some sources credit "Birds of a Feather" to have been scored for the film, this, along with a cameo by Leo Gorcey, do not appear in circulating prints.

With Hope supplying much to the comedy and one-liners, Crosby also demonstrates his flare for comedy as well. Aside from their their traditional "paddy cake" routine, other highlights include Hope's wrestling with a gorilla (guess who wins), and their encounter with natives (with subtitles translating to what they're saying). Others in the cast include Douglass Dumbrille (The Slave Trader); Joan Marsh (Dimples); and Luis Alberni, Paul Porcasi and Leigh Whipper in smaller roles.

In spite of its fine slapstick and gags keeping the story moving at a brisk pace, ROAD TO ZANZIBAR, has become one of seven "Road" movies not be as well known or revived as the others, namely SINGAPORE (1940), MOROCCO (1942) and UTOPIA (1946). ZANZIBAR, along with the others in the series, have been readily available on home video and DVD, along with occasional cable TV broadcasts on American Movie Classics (1995-2000) and Turner Classic Movies(2005-2006, 2010-present). As a satire on jungle movies, ROAD TO ZANZIBAR is as good as it gets, you lucky people you. Next installment: ROAD TO MOROCCO (1942), hailed by many to be the wildest and funniest yet. (***)
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Jungle Nonsense
telegonus25 November 2002
This early entry in the Hope and Crosby canon may be their best. The Don Hartman gags are still fresh, and Bob and Bing are young enough to be romantic leads, which indeed they are. A spoof of the kind of jungle adventure movie popular at the time, one's enjoyment of this now more than sixty year old film may depend in part on the kind of movie it's making fun of, otherwise it might seem just plain absurd. It is anyway. Absurd I mean. Also very funny. The studio jungle looks like a studio jungle, which only adds to the air of the ridiculous, as does Bing's breaking into song at odd moments. Leading ladies Dorothy Lamour and Una Merkel are good foils for (as they used to call them) the boys. Good fun, and a great movie for the holidays.
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The funniest of the "Road" pictures! A comedy classic!
caribeno5 June 2002
"The Road to Zanzibar" scores in all departments! The interplay between Hope, Crosby, and Lamour is outstanding. A wonderful addition to this trio comes in the form of Una Merkel, playing Lamour's friend. She and Bob Hope made an inspired dream comedy team. Their scenes together are hilarious. Dorothy Lamour displayed a biting comic edge to her lines not usually displayed in her comedies.

The photography is moody, diffuse, reminiscent of von Sternberg's films. A real treat for comedy and cinema fans!
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"You're in Africa now. Strange things happen here."
classicsoncall9 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The first thing you have to do with this picture is get past the idea that Hope and Crosby would have been part of a carnival tour in Africa. And this was back in 1950 when the continent would have been more primitive than it is today. It didn't seem to me there would have been a whole lot of paying customers to see circus acts on the Dark Continent, but who knows?

This picture has more of the familiar Hope and Crosby camaraderie that we expect with the 'Road' pictures, that concept hadn't been fully worked out yet with the debut of "Road to Singapore" which came out the prior year. Ben Mankiewicz, host of the Turner Classic Movie channel mentioned that both actors hired their own writers to punch up their parts in the script, sometimes leaving Dorothy Lamour at a loss when expecting her cues. Their ad-libbing often discarded original lines in the story, but knowing that, it didn't appear to me that Lamour was all that bothered by it. She rolled with the punches pretty well if you ask me.

Interestingly, the Bingster doesn't share any tunes with his partner in this one, although ex-slave girl Donna (Lamour) gets up close and personal with Fearless Frazier (Hope) while doing the 'You're Dangerous' number. Can you imagine how uncomfortable she could have made him if she were wearing a sarong? Because she didn't, I had to create that mental image myself.

I guess it was pretty standard for jungle movies to introduce a gorilla at some point, so with that in mind, Fearless gets locked in a cage with one and has to wrestle his way out. I could be wrong on this, but to my mind, this is the first time I ever saw a monkey get monkey flipped. Hope looked pretty good in his cage match, leading me to conclude that he might have made a pretty good pro-wrestler himself. He'd have to pack on a few more pounds though.

As they did in all their Road pictures, Hope and Crosby get the most mileage they can out of being con men with pretty funny results here. One of their staples was the old patty cake routine, which didn't work the first time here against a hulking guy named Solomon (holy cow - that was pro-wrestler Jules Strongbow!), but later on they used the gimmick to become a big time hit with the natives.
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Road to Return
wes-connors11 November 2011
After burning down the Big Top, singing carnival showman Bing Crosby (as Chuck Reardon) and human cannonball pal Bob Hope (as Hubert "Fearless" Frazier) take their act on the road. Traveling around Africa, the two men become involved in a phony diamond mine, and eventually find Dorothy "Dottie" Lamour (as Donna Latour) masquerading as a slave girl. She and partner Una Merkel (as Julia Quimby) have ulterior motives, but love may change La Lamour. Later, hungry natives mistake chubby Mr. Hope and Mr. Crosby for Gods, and then plan to eat them. Our co-stars contemplate their future as burps. The songs and material in this second "Road to…" picture are noticeably weak. The stunt doubles are simply noticeable.

*** Road to Zanzibar (4/11/41) Victor Schertzinger ~ Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Una Merkel
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It's Lamour's movie!
JohnHowardReid13 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Copyright 11 April 1941 by Paramount Pictures Inc. New York opening at the Paramount: 9 April 1941. U.S. release: 11 April 1941. Australian release: 29 May 1941. Sydney opening at the Prince Edward: 21 May 1941 (ran 6 weeks). 8,220 feet. 91 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: Chuck Reardon (Bing Crosby) and Fearless Frazier (Bob Hope) are American sideshow artists in darkest Africa. Chuck is always figuring out some wild money-making scheme while Fearless wants only to get back home. Two stranded girls (Dorothy Lamour, Una Merkel) persuade the boys to take them on a long safari. They run into cannibals, wild beasts, and other hazards.

NOTES: Number two of Crosby/Hope's seven Road pictures. The first six were produced by Paramount. The last, Road to Hong Kong (1962) was a United Artists release. Zanzibar became a top box-office grosser in the U.S.A./Canada, and number 25 at Australian ticket windows for 1941.

COMMENT: The second of the "Road" films. Like the first, Road to Singapore (1940), it will be a disappointment to viewers who are expecting the lively wit, the crazy asides to the camera, the side-splitting "in" jokes, the pungent satire and amusingly pell-mell situations of the later entries in the series. True, there are maybe six or seven attempts at wild spoofs, including an on-screen reference to orchestras suddenly blooming in the middle of the jungle, and the wacky use of sub-titles - one of them deliciously censored - in the madcap scene with the cannibals.

But many of the gags, alas, are rather weak. And they are not made any funnier by the often too-strenuous efforts of Hope and Crosby to put them over. Aside from a few mildly amusing quips, it's painfully obvious that the principals are being made to work too hard to raise laughs. The strain shows in their exaggerated, top-of-the-voice portrayals.

Shertzinger's often colorless direction with its long takes and routine camera placements, must also take its share of the blame. In fact, Schertzinger doesn't really come to life until halfway through, when he suddenly introduces an off-camera commentary. The action that follows, capped by that great scene in which the boys beat the graveyard drums that inadvertently summon the cannibals, is much more inventively staged and far more lively.

Oddly, Lamour comes off best in the acting stakes. Her performance is light and charming and not overdone. Miss Merkel is okay. She is forced to spend the film in Lamour's shadow. The support players, however, - Douglass Dumbrille, Iris Adrian, the lovely Joan Marsh, Eric Blore, - have remarkably little to do. Production values are often helped out by spectacular stock footage (the circus fire, porters winding through the jungle, the massed attack of warriors). Photography and other technical credits are smooth as they come.
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Road to Zanzibar was an enjoyable second Road movie starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour
tavm20 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
A year after first teaming in Road to Singapore, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour appear together again in Road to Zanzibar. Hope and Lamour have switched billing this time-him now second and her third-which remains for the rest of the series as distributed by Paramount. Also, things are allowed to be a bit more wacky unlike in the previous one with some great visual humor concerning Bob getting mixed up with a gorilla. Ms. Lamour also gets to have some fun especially when she seems to seduce Hope in one scene when singing to him. Speaking of Bob, he's not so smart here unlike last time since here he's clueless thinking Dottie's in love with him not realizing she's referring to someone else (not Bing) unlike in the last one when he realized she's in love with Bing's character there! Also, this is the only one of the Road pictures in which he doesn't share a number with Crosby. In summary, while Road to Zanzibar is a little better then Singapore, it's still a little uneven when trying to consistently get laughs. Still, it's often enjoyable enough so on that note, it's still worth a look. Next up, Road to Morocco.
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On the road again
Squonk23 June 1999
Hope and Crosby are on the road again. This time, Hope is a daredevil called Fearless Frazier, Crosby is his shifty promoter. There are plenty of good laughs in 'Road to Zanzibar,' but the story is confusing. They just jump from one comic situation to another without much tying it all together. Still, I laughed quite a bit. A favorite scene of mine is where Hope and Crosby mourn the death of Dorothy Lamour's character, who they think was eaten by a crocodile.
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Hope and Crosby in the jungle
blanche-219 August 2010
Bob Hope and Bing Crosby are on the "Road to Zanzibar" in this 1941 film. They play circus performers, with the Hope character, Fearless Frazier, being shot from a cannon. Actually it's a dummy. One night, the trick doesn't go so well, and the boys set fire to the entire circus. After that, they travel the country and Fearless lights up a light bulb with his mouth or whatever his partner (Crosby) thinks up as an attraction.

When they've finally saved enough money to go home, Chuck (Crosby) goes to buy the boat tickets and returns, the owner of a diamond mine sold to him by a man (Eric Blore) who turns out to be nuts. Fearless sells it to two thugs, and then the two jump any boat they can to escape. Once in the "nowhere everyone says they're 500 miles from" they encounter two con women, Lamour and Una Merkel, who attempt to bilk them out of their money. Merkel is determined to get Lamour into the arms of a wealthy man named Bradley, so they make up some story so that Chuck and Fearless will finance the caravan through the jungle.

Very funny movie, with Fearless fighting with a gorilla being one of the funniest scenes. When Chuck and Fearless think the Lamour character has been eaten by a wild animal (she's swimming and they find her clothes on land), they bury her clothes and say words over her grave. Then there's "patty cake," which the natives love.

Classic Hope and Crosby, with Crosby taking his usual terrible advantage of guileless Hope, Hope falling in love with Lamour, who loves Crosby, and Crosby singing.

This film leaves you with a smile on your face. I never can get over how cute Bob Hope was.
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The Second Film in the "Road Series"
Uriah439 July 2016
Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour are at it again in the second film of the "Road Series" which follows "Road to Singapore" produced a year earlier. However, although the three actors have returned their characters are completely different. For example, Bing Crosby plays a con-man named "Chuck" who is constantly coming up with dangerous acts to use in a circus. Bob Hope plays his best friend "Fearless Frazier" who is generally the one who risks his life in whatever dangerous scheme Chuck has concocted. Yet for all of their experience in the confidence field they somehow end up being taken for a ride by a woman named "Donna Latour" (Dorothy Lamour) and her friend "Julia Quimby" (Una Merkel) who manage to convince them to take them on a long safari through the African jungle but conveniently leaves out the real reason Donna and Julia want to get there-so that Donna can marry a young millionaire. But what none of the four realize is just how dangerous this safari ends up becoming. Now rather than reveal any more I will just say that I thought this movie was a little bit better than its predecessor due in large part to the better coherence between the scenes. Likewise, the action was a little better as well. In any case, this was an entertaining comedy for the most part and I have rated it accordingly. Slightly above average.
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Made me sleepy
edgeofreality11 March 2020
Well, you probably had to be there...I couldn't get into this, the humour seemed to be from another planet. I'm not saying I hated this film, but aside from a split second appearance by a white cockatoo, I was never more than very mildly interested. Curiously the cockatoo was called 'a stale character' yet that adjective could better have been applied to most of the other characters, the jokes and ideas. But it's silly being too rough on this sort of film - it never aims for more than it achieves. Every country that makes films has these sort of production line comedies and they served a purpose. It says a lot about how dominant US culture is that such Z grade stuff from the US is world famous while it is rightly ignored when it comes from other countries. I'm not gibving a rating as I have no idea what to give it. Actually, come to think of it, rating films seems pretty dumb overall.
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Jingle Jangle Jungle
writers_reign29 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
As it turned out this was the second in a franchise that no one thought of as a franchise at the time. Hope and Crosby had been teamed with Dorothy Lamour in what was intended as a one-off, Road To Singapore, and when Fred McMurray and George Burns passed on this someone remembered that Road To Singapore had made a little noise at the box office so why not team Hope and Crosby again and throw a 'road' into the title to remind fickle audiences of Singapore. Things were beginning to fall into place but we weren't there yet; Hope and Crosby were now established as performers with Crosby as the pitch man and Hope performing the life-threatening stunts and what, in retrospect, turned out to be the main ingredient - the songs - was also in place. With Fred and Ginger no longer a team at RKO someone at Paramount clearly figured there was a gap in the market and you can almost hear the thinking ...'what if, they weren't two DANCERS, but two SINGERS, then we add an extra 'girl' to the mix as a foil for Hope, Helen Broderick is working so why not Una Merkel, she did all right in Destry Rides Again opposite Micha Auer...' Actually the foursome worked quite well but it's the threesome we remember from the rest of the franchise (excluding the last, Hong Kong). We were also becoming used to the kind of jokes that let the audience in - the native chief tells Hope he will be fed to a giant bird which gives Crosby a chance to say 'this time the bird gets you'. If there are not too many lines as on the money as that the one thing that endures is the songs; on Singapore Johnny Burke was teamed with Jimmy Monaco but he'd now formed a partnership with Jimmy Van Heusen that would last throughout the forties and into the fifties and during that time they wrote not only all the other 'Road' pictures but also about 95 per cent of Crosby musicals. They started well here with three fine numbers, You Lucky People You (if you ever wondered where cockney comedian Tommy Trinder got his catch phrase from look no further), You're Dangerous, and the standout ballad It's Always You, plus the almost obligatory title number and it is these songs that will endure even if the films themselves tend to date.
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The boys are con artists,getting conned themselves periodically
weezeralfalfa5 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
If you like the other films in the "Road Series", you will probably like this one too. The plot is thoroughly ridiculous, of course, more so than the others, I would say. But the mayhem and occasional songs are much more important than the very flimsy plot of this farce.

The screenplay can be usefully divided into several segments, the first of which finds the boys(Bob Hope and Bing Crosby) associated with a circus(in equatorial Africa?). Bing is the barker and Bob is the performer of various very daring stunts. Bob has had it when Bing suggests he wrestle a giant octopus. Unfortunately, their pyromania burns down the Big Top, sending them running for cover. Thus begins the second segment when they buy the worthless deed to a gold mine, then unload it on another. Next, they get involved with two footloose women who con them out of some money buying the freedom of one, supposedly being sold as a slave. These two women(Dorothy Lamour and Una Merkel) will be involved with them for most of the rest of the film. They get the boys to agree to finance a safari into darkest Africa, not telling them that actually they are heading for Dorothy's wealthy boyfriend. When they discover that they are being used, they quit the safari and head back. The next segment mainly has them interacting with a huge population of natives, who debate whether they are gods or scoundrels, fit to be boiled in their huge cauldron. The final, all too brief, segment has the boys and girls reunited, apparently where they began the Safari, anxious to return home, but in need of money to purchase two more tickets for the 4 of them.

There is a huge gap in the story where the boys somehow escape from being boiled alive and make it back to safety. At the same time, somehow the girls make it back to the same spot, lacking any money to pay the porters and other workers of the safari. I understand that the desired run time was being approached, and a quick ending was needed.

One of the more hilarious scenes is when Bob is made to wrestle a supposed gorilla as a test of whether the boys might be gods.

The circus tent fire looked realistic, with people and circus animals running around screaming.

Incidentally, Zanzibar is a group of small islands off the coast of Tanzania. I never had the impression that we were there. Oh well, the boys never made it as far as Singapore in "The Roald to Singapore".
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Dated, but still funny spoof of jungle adventure movies
mlraymond23 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is the first Road picture I remember seeing as a kid on television, and my sister and I didn't get most of the Forties humor, but our Dad was beside himself at the part where the cowardly Bob Hope ( playing "Fearless Frazier", the courageous stunt man) has to wrestle a gorilla in a cage, while the natives place bets on the outcome. Dad was roaring with laughter at the way that both Hope and the gorilla were using classic wrestling moves on each other, which can still be observed in any pro wrestling match today, including body slams, head locks, Irish whips into the turnbuckle and pile drivers.

Bob Hope has some of his best moments in this picture, including tickling a lecherous bidder at the slave auction at opportune moments, so the bad guy won't be able to increase his price for Dorothy Lamour; shrieking over a an obviously rubber snake he finds in his bed, wisecracking with Crosby as he 's about to be shot out of the cannon at the carnival as " The Living Bullet". Crosby is the usual smooth talking con artist, who persuades Hope to attempt such risky endeavors as being the Human Bat, flying on man made wings, the Human Dynamo, strapped in an electric chair with a light bulb in his mouth, etc. By the time Crosby tries to persuade Hope to wrestle an octopus, Hope has figured out it's better to turn down these great ideas.

Romantic complications ensue when the boys get entangled with a couple of female sharpies on their way to marry a rich man. Una Merkel is the brains and Dorothy Lamour the beauty as they scheme their way across Africa. Hope is reluctant to join the safari, until Crosby points out that they're already on the lam from both the police for accidentally burning down the carnival, and a couple of menacing characters they sold a phony diamond mine to.

Music, sight gags, ad libs and sheer silliness provide lots of entertainment. The parts with the natives are stereotypical, but already spoofs in 1941 of the serious clichés found for years in Tarzan movies. At one point, the native witch doctor argues with the chief, with subtitles in English, debating the possibly divine origins of the two explorers. The shaman points at Bob Hope and announces via subtitle " If he's a god, I'm Mickey Mouse!" Sit back, relax and enjoy some old fashioned movie fun, with Hope Crosby and Lamour in their prime.
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The most dated Road
CubsandCulture14 February 2020
While the other Road to..movies had their cultural blindspots this one is aggressively regressive and dated. I just couldn't get past the utterly racist portrayal of the African tribesman; A sharper parody of the jungle pictures of that time would have subverted the dark continent tropes, not replicate them in even broader ways. The climax especially left a sour taste as no one is that dumb.

With that being said yes this is still of fun picture. Yes Hope and Crosby are still giving more one liners that land than don't. Solid sequel.
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Back on the Road
Scaramouche200430 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Following the huge success of the previous years Road to Singapore, Paramount seemed anxious to cash in on the public appeal of the Crosby/Hope partnership and before our intrepid travellers had a chance to unpack from their last Road trip, they were sent out on the road again, this time to the untamed jungles of Africa.

Hope and Crosby play circus performers on this trip with Hope playing Fearless Frazer, Human Cannonball, Monster Wrestler and High Flying Daredevil Extrodinaire and Crosby plays his smooth talking promoter who forces his pal to risk his life on whatever highly dangerous, life threatening feat of death, his perverse mind can conjure. As our story opens Hope and Crosby are fleeing justice after their last money making stunt burns down an entire circus camp.

On a chance meeting with an eccentric if not completely GaGa millionaire, they become the proud owners of a deed to a diamond mine, which turns out to be false. Having been thoroughly swindled they sell the deed to a gang of cutthroats and barely escape with their lives.

Lost in the wild, but at least for once rich, they come across Una Merkel and now permanent "Road To.." love interest and stalwart, Dorothy Lamour, who are about to be sold into slavery.

Rescuing Una and Dotty is but the beginning of this Tarzanesque adventure as they promise to take the two damsels in distress across Africa on safari, so Dorothy can find her missing, ailing but stinkingly rich father...supposedly!!!!

Of course its a con as for once it is Dorothy Lamour who is working the racket and Hope and Crosby, taken in with false promises of wealth and riches, are suckered to a tee.

Lions, Tigers, Jungle Drums, restless and hungry natives and a rather playful gorilla set the scene in this second "Road To" adventure, where the characters, humour and feel of the series was finally perfected.

Hopes one liners are second to none, Bing spars with Hope wonderfully and sings as good as ever and if Dorothy Lamour was as beautiful in any other film then I sure as hell haven't seen it.

It was clear that with this formula in place the "Road To..." films could only get bigger and better from here on in.

The Road to Zanzibar was also the Road to Success.
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Good Comedy Seriously Flawed By Racism
robert_fager-200-6476024 January 2022
This is the second of the Bob Hope & Bing Crosby Road movies. This is a pretty funny film - but it's seriously flawed by racist depictions of racial stereotypes of Africans as humorous natives without intelligence.
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