The Road to Hong Kong (1962)


The Road to Hong Kong Storyline

In their final road movie together, Hope and Crosby return as hucksters Chester and Harry. When Chester loses his memory, they are told his only hope is to go to a lamasery where they have an herbal remedy to restore it (and where another herb will enhance it ). Through a case of mistaken identity while en route, they get their hands on some sensitive material, the only copy of which winds up in Chester’s head. Unfortunately for them, an agent of the high lama retrieves the herb they stole, thus making it impossible for them to recall the memorized information on demand – and the nefarious people who desperately want it are willing to do whatever it takes to get it.—

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The Road to Hong Kong Movie Reviews

A fond farewell

There are no bad ROAD movies, and I do not except this one from that statement. As someone once said of the Marx Brothers film AT THE CIRCUS (and I paraphrase) in the career of any other comedy team this picture would be considered a classic. It not only holds its own with the rest of the series but I actually prefer it to ROAD TO RIO, which (while still adhering to the Road Rule stated above) always seemed like the weakest of the series to me. It’s funny the reasons some other posters have given for not liking the film: It looks like it was made in the Sixties (it was), the stars looks like they’re nearing their sixties (they were, and so what?), it’s not as funny as the others in the series (in any given horse race one horse will come in last, but he still had to be pretty damn good to get into the race in the first place). And nobody seems to much like Joan Collins. Well, she was gorgeous and a competent enough actress and in a movie like this who cares anyway? It’s Bob and Bing’s movie and despite what anyone says they prove they’ve still got the goods and deliver them with ease. I say quit carping and enjoy.

The Road Ends In Hong Kong

This turned out to be the end of a great cycle of comedy films. Two mega-individual stars, pooling their talents to come up with comedy classics.

Since this was the only Road picture not done on the Paramount lot it has a whole different feel to it and not for the better. Unfortunately the decision was made to dump Dorothy Lamour from her traditional role as sex object for Crosby and Hope to pant over. Joan Collins was years away from her career role as Alexis Carrington. Here she’s just not into the same spirit of things that Dotty was. Dotty was brought in and did one of her numbers Warmer Than A Whisper towards the end of the film.

It’s been pointed out that 29 year old Collins looked ridiculous falling for 58 year old Crosby. I can see the case for it, but I would remind everyone that four years earlier, Bing in fact took as his second wife, a woman with just such an age difference.

One of the inside jokes of the film was that Hope’s name in the film was Chester Babcock which is the birth name of Jimmy Van Heusen who wrote so many film scores for Crosby. Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn contributed a ballad for Bing dueted with Collins called Let’s Not Be Sensible. And Bob and Bing get two patter numbers, Teamwork and the title tune. There’s a lot less music in this outing and that’s not for the better of the film.

Still the film has some good comedic moments the best of which involve a hilarious scene in a Hindu doctor’s office with an unbilled Peter Sellers as the doctor. The doctor advises Hope to take a cure for amnesia at a hidden lamasery, a la Shangri La, where they find David Niven committing Lady Chatterley’s Lover to memory. And at the end when the boys and Collins arrive on another planet in a surreal ending they find Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin waiting for them.

Among the rest of the supporting cast Robert Morley as a mad scientist and chief villain and Felix Aylmer as the Grand Lama stand out.

Before Crosby died in 1977, he Hope and Lamour and signed to do still another film entitled Road to the Fountain of Youth. I wish it had been done. Road to Hong Kong is all right, but not up to the standards of those wacky days at Paramount.

The Seventh Voyage of Bing and Bob.

The Road to Hong Kong is the seventh and final film in the “Road To” series of films starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. It’s directed by Norman Panama and Panama co-writes the screenplay with Melvin Frank. Music is by Robert Farnon and cinematography is by Jack Hildyard. Plot pitches Hope and Crosby in the middle of a mistaken identity scenario and thus mixed up with an organisation intent on world domination via the moon!

There had been a ten year gap since The Road to Bali was released in 1952, but such was the success and popularity of the series the boys were once again trundled out for one last “Road To” hurrah. Behind the scenes squabbles and stipulations tainted it some what, most notably the shunting out of the way of the series’ previously leading lady Dorothy Lamour (who ends up making an extended cameo), who was replaced by a youthful Joan Collins. So with some scratchy back history and a word of mouth reputation as the worst of the series, with claims of the dynamic duo being too old and long past their best, The Road to Hong Kong must be a stinker then? Right? Actually no.

Sure it lacks some of the energised nuttiness of previous instalments, but this definitely isn’t a stinker. Yes the boys are a bit long in the tooth, and Collins, whilst no Lamour in screen presence and chemistry value with the duo, is sexy, spunky and grounds some of the more older frayed edges. The sci-fi plot is delightfully bonkers, very much capturing the space age zeitgeist of the 60s, and there’s a whole bunch of great gags as usual (my favourite is about an elephant thermometer). Not all the intended humourous scenes work, but most do, while there’s even a quite surreal one involving banana feeding machines! Bonus sees a cameo from the great Peter Sellers as his patented Indian Doctor, a scene where you can see Bing and Bob looking on and thinking the torch is being passed, while a strong support cast includes Robert Morley, Walter Gotell and Felix Aylmer. Funky opening credit sequences as well!

Worst in the series? Well that’s a harsh statement, more like it’s a lesser light than the rest it is probably more fairer to say, but it’s a fun film that adds weight to what fine entertainment value Bing and Bob were. 6.5/10