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Universal Studios Home Video presents
Road To Morocco (1942)

Orville: How do you figure on paying for all this?
Jeff: What are ya, scared? You got red blood, ain't ya?
Orville: Yeah, but I don't want to get it all over strangers.

- Bob Hope, Bing Crosby

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: May 30, 2002

Stars: Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour
Other Stars: Dona Drake, Anthony Quinn
Director: David Butler

Manufacturer: Panasonic Disc Services Corporation
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:22m:01s
Release Date: March 05, 2002
UPC: 025192122927
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B-CC+ B-

DVD Review

On the road again with Bob and Bing, and is the third time a charm? You bet your boots. Road to Morocco was their third road movie in three years (after the roads to Singapore and Zanzibar), and the boys have the formula down pat. They're having fun up there on the screen, and since they're not taking the story too seriously, there's no need for the audience to, either, or even the filmmakers, for that matter. The scenery isn't very good, and generally this journey is about as close to Morocco as you can get on a Southern California soundstage; it's the sort of movie in which, no matter what physical ordeals are thrown his way, Bing Crosby always looks nattily turned out in a carefully tailored double-breasted suit. But that's fine, because all you should be looking for here is a carefree hour and a half, and that's what you'll find.

One of the funny things about the Road movies is that they're not sequels, exactly—Bob and Bing don't play the same characters from picture to picture, but we know they're the same guys, and they always manage to find the lovely Dorothy Lamour. In fact, a good amount of self-consciousness about their going to the well one more time makes its way up on the screen here. Hope and Crosby sing this couplet in the title song: "Where we're going, why we're going, how can we be sure? / I'll lay you eight to five that we meet Dorothy Lamour." There's a good amount of winking and nudging to the audience, and it runs throughout—toward the end, for instance, Hope provides a brief plot recap to Crosby, who says: "I know all that." "Yes," replies Bob, "but the people who came in the middle of the picture don't." This stuff isn't really that hilarious, and there's probably a little too much of it. You also start to get the sense that maybe this is the filmmakers being a little lazy—they can't even be bothered papering over some of the gaping holes in the plot, so they have their leads shrug at the camera instead. (Since the lead duo have charm to burn, though, it pretty much works.)

And there's plenty that is genuinely funny, and it's usually in the patter scripted for the two leads. For instance, in an especially desperate moment, stranded on a raft without food, Crosby looks to Hope and considers cannibalism. Hope tries to squirm out of it: "You're gonna eat me? You wouldn't like me. Once I bit my tongue, and I tasted awful."

Bob plays Orville "Turkey" Jackson, Crosby is Jeff Peters, and when we meet them, Turkey has inadvertently caused an explosion on the ship on which they've stowed away. So they're on that raft on the high seas, and, mirabile dictu, land in the kingdom of Karameesh, in the desert. (Re the sand, Orville observes, "This must be the place where they empty all the old hourglasses.") They make it to town on a camel, and they're broke—Jeff sells Turkey to a local sheik, but instead of ending up a slave, Turkey lands in clover. He's the new fiancé of Princess Shalmar (Lamour), and is living the high life running up to the wedding—he revels in the finer things much like the Cowardly Lion being pampered when he finally makes it to Oz. Racked with guilt and prompted by a visit in a dream from Orville's Aunt Lucy (Hope in drag), Jeff goes in search of his buddy. Needless to say, merriment and confusion ensues, especially when the princess's previous intended, Mullay Kasim, shows up. (Mullay Kasim is played by Anthony Quinn, the designated Road picture villain.) It's all very silly, climaxing with Bob and Bing getting themselves out of trouble with the oldest vaudevillian gags imaginable: dribble glasses, whoopee cushions, exploding cigars, and the old hotfoot.

The tuneful score is provided by James Van Heusen and Johnny Burke, and the best number is certainly Bing's big one, Moonlight Becomes You. He sings it straight, and it's lovely; later, he, Bob and Dorothy send it up, to even better effect. The one sequence that hasn't worn well with the years is a scene in a Moroccan marketplace, in which Bob and Bing play at being mentally retarded, in order to get some free food. There's enough funny stuff here without this misstep.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The black level is clear, strong and consistent, but there's more than a little damage to the print, and the scratches and artifacts on the frame can be very distracting.

Image Transfer Grade: C

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The songs sound especially crisp here, though there's still a good amount of ambient noise. Pretty much on par with the previous releases in this series.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Production Notes
2 Featurette(s)
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
  2. Road to Morocco Sing-Along
  3. DVD recommendations
  4. offer to sign up via the Internet for a Universal DVD newsletter
Extras Review: The first of the featurettes, Bob Hope and the Road to Success (14m:12s), seems to be a staple of these Road DVDs; it appears on the previous two. (The same is true of the DVD recommendations and the newsletter signup offer.) The second, Command Performance 1945 (05m:04s), shows Hope doing a broadcast for the boys overseas; he's joined by funnyman Jerry Colonna, with whom Hope appeared in College Swing. It's karaoke time with the Road to Morocco Sing-Along, and though that's an upbeat number, if you're really going to sing back to the television set, I think it might have been a better choice to let the audience play crooner with Moonlight Becomes You.

Brief bios and filmographies are provided for the five lead actors (Hope, Crosby, Lamour, Quinn, and Dona Drake), as well as for director David Butler—this was his first and only time helming a Road picture. Best detail in these: Drake had been performing under another name, but got a nasty reputation as a gun moll, hanging out with gangsters. The Photo Gallery (03m:20s) shows lobby cards and stills over orchestral versions of songs from the movie. Production notes are brief, on four screens; and the original trailer clues you in to just what's coming soon to a theater near you: "Here They Go Again! Yes....It's Bing...and Bob...and Dottie... Hitting the Road Again." Saddle up.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

The energy and talent levels don't flag in this third entry in the tremendously popular series. Hope and Crosby are amiable traveling companions, and a couple of nice songs from Bing make the journey a pleasant one. It's not a groundbreaking bit of cinema, but then, it was never intended to be.

 


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