Road to Rio (1947)
“A fiesta of fun!…ON THE MERRIEST ROAD OF ALL!”
Director: Norman Z. McLeod
Cast: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour
Synopsis: Two inept vaudevillians stow away on a Brazilian-bound ocean liner and foil a plot by a sinister hypnotist to marry off her niece to a greedy fortune hunter.
Road to Rio, the fifth in the Hope-Crosby-Lamour Road To series isn’t the best of the bunch but it probably comes in a close second or third. The routine was well-established by the time they made this one. Hope and Crosby compete with each other for the attentions of Dorothy Lamour, the potential victim of an arranged marriage, whom they meet while stowing away on an ocean liner en-route to Rio.
As usual, Crosby volunteers Hope for crazy stunts and pockets the payment received for such devilishness, while Hope hones his self-serving coward routine when he offers to help the suicidal Lamour throw herself overboard rather than be discovered as a stowaway. Of course Lamour survives to play the boys off against one another. Although the dynamics may be familiar, the comedy is still surprisingly fresh. Crosby and Hope were one of the few comedy duos from Hollywood’s golden age who relied more on verbal quips and cleverness than slapstick and props to get their laughs — although the scene in which they are the unwitting targets of a hit-man’s rifle proves the exception to the rule. Gale Sondergaard appears in this one as Lamour’s wicked ‘aunt’ and it’s the kind of role her vaguely oriental looks were made for.
Rio is also enhanced by the appearance of the Wiere Brothers as a trio of Brazilian musicians recruited by Crosby to play the parts of musicians in his non-existent band. Armed with only three English expressions — ‘You’re telling me,” “You’re in the groove, Jackson,” and “This is murder,” — to fool the owner of the club in which they are playing into believing they are American, the trio embark on a clever routine that leaves Hope and Crosby standing on the sidelines.
(Reviewed 30th September 2005)