Thursday, July 31, 2003


Over the next couple days, I'll catch up with the rest of the Bob Hope movies I've seen recently. ZANZIBAR was the second "Road" picture, after ROAD TO SINGAPORE (which I haven't seen), just before they really hit their speed with their much acclaimed third movie ROAD TO MOROCCO. Hope and Bing Crosby are, as usual, partners on the run--this time, they're carnival performers in Africa, with Hope getting shot out of a cannon. On the trail of a diamond mine, they meet up with Dorothy Lamour and Una Merkel while avoiding thugs and the law. Eric Blore has a lamentably small part in the proceedings here, which haven't yet taken on the wild, anything-goes tone that would make the later movies so much fun. After a break during the war years, the duo return with UTOPIA, which is almost as good as MOROCCO. The plot doesn't matter nearly as much as the one-liners, the self-referential remarks, and the prickly chemistry between Hope and Crosby. In the opening, an aged Hope and Lamour open their door to an aged Crosby whom they left for dead in Alaska many years ago. The rest of the movie is a flashback to their Gold Rush adventures. Hope and Crosby are a struggling pair of vaudevillians; in Alaska on the trail of a gold mine, they meet up with Dorothy Lamour while avoiding thugs and the law (sound familiar?). The best bits are the frequent moments where they "break the fourth wall" and talk to the audience, as when Hope, seeing Crosby, says, "And I thought this was going to be an A-picture." At one point, a lovely snowy mountaintop turns into the Paramount logo. There's a talking fish, and later a talking bear complaining that the fish got two lines but he didn't get any. Robert Benchley pops in periodically with humorous asides, telling us that the studio hired him to help out becuase the movie made no sense. The ending gag is priceless. Overall, this one is probably funnier than MOROCCO, but both MOROCCO has a more interesting atmosphere; both of the movies stand the test of time nicely.

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