Sunday, May 19, 2002

ROAD TO MOROCCO (1942)

The Hope/Crosby "Road" movies conjure up my childhood for me--it seems like they were always running on the late afternoon movie. I know I saw some of them, but I have no memory of specific plotlines. This one seems to be representative of the series. Hope and Crosby, coming off as a cross between the Marx Brothers and Abbott & Costello, are shipwrecked and wind up in Morocco, romancing a princess (Dorothy Lamour) and getting in trouble with the wicked Kassim (Anthony Quinn). As with the Marxes and Abbott and Costello, the plot is not the thing here. I got up a couple of times to take care of laundry without pausing the film and didn't feel like I'd missed anything. Much of the fun comes from the wildly self-referential humor--references are thrown in to "Here Comes Mr. Jordan" and Paramount studios, and the first song even notes the inevitability of Lamour's presence in the film. Dare I say it felt a little postmodern in tone?

There are talking camels, achieved using a primitive version of the same kind of animation used today for talking animals in commercials, and lots of vaudeville bits. The song "Moonlight Becomes You" is sung twice, once more or less for laughs as Hope, Crosby, and Lamour trade voices. There's also a rather startling "reefer" reference that I suspect may have gone over the heads of some the 40's audiences. Hope and Crosby make a good comedy team and I had fun watching it. On the other hand, I don't know that I need to hunt up the other movies--I suspect it's sort of a "seen one,seen 'em all" series. Nevertheless, I have another "Road" movie coming from Netflix.

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