Crosby Hopes of Lamour
Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour made 7 "Road to ..." movies and over the years I have seen them all but only in passing, a bit here a bit there and more often than not they've come on TV and ended up being background noise. So now having sat down to watch "Road to Rio", the 5th of the trio's movies I'm kicking myself for not having properly watched them when I had the chance. To put it simply "Road to Rio" is solid gold, old fashioned entertainment, song and dance routines, comedy and a simple storyline to string it all together. The "Road to" movies may all have a set sort of formula but when you have the talents of Crosby, Hope and Lamour it doesn't matter because everything is simply spot on, jokes are funny, adlibs are witty, the dancing is humorous and the sweet songs are just that.
Having been chased from one state to another by angry fathers, performing buddies Scat Sweeny (Bing Crosby - Holiday Inn) and Hot Lips Barton (Bob Hope) score a gig at a Carnival. But when they accidentally set fire to the place they are forced to move on again and find themselves stowing away aboard a cruise liner where they meet the troubled Lucia (Dorothy Lamour - The Greatest Show on Earth). Despite having befriended Lucia, Scat and Hot Lips are shocked when she reports them as stowaways especially when she later comes to their rescue. But eventually they discover what is going on as Lucia's Aunt Catherine (Gale Sondergaard) has a strange power over her and only they can stop her from ruining Lucia's life.
So "Road to Rio" like so many musical comedies from the 30s and 40s has a simple storyline with performing buddies Scat and Hot Lips as stowaways aboard a cruise liner where they meet the deeply troubled Lucia. Now part of what follows is the humour of both Scat and Hot Lips falling for Lucia and trying to outsmart each other in getting her affections. The other half is her wicked aunt who is using the powers of hypnosis to control Lucia in order to get her to marry and in doing so lining her own pocket. That's all there is to it and as you would expect we have Scat and Hot Lips discovering this and trying to save Lucia from her deceptive aunt.
But then "Road to Rio" isn't really a movie about the story but the musical comedy which fills pretty much every single scene. The double act of Crosby and Hope works brilliantly as they deliver "Apalachicola, Fla." with such comic flare and even when they're not singing or dancing the comedy sparks between them so quickly that it's easy to miss a humorous jibe. The humour is not just between the two of them and there are great references to Warner Bros being jealous when they hear a scream and so much humour which is basically a nod to the camera that it comes at all angles. And of course you have the beautiful Lamour, stuck in the middle of these rivalling friends who delivers a lovely song with added comedy from Hope as his horn playing produces bubbles, a truly great scene.
But the comedy is not just the trio of Crosby, Hope and Lamour the various cameos also add so much to the movie. There is a nice musical scene which sees Bing Crosby singing with the Andrews Sisters which for those who enjoy that old style music will love. And then there is The Wiere Brothers who play the 3 musicians who join Scat and Hot Lips, a trio of such talented comedians that they quite literally steal every single scene they are in with their slapstick. To put it simply thanks to Crosby, Hope & Lamour as well as the Wiere Brothers "Road to Rio" quite literally is a laugh a minute movie, in fact multiple laughs a minute.
What this all boils down to is that "Road to Rio" is a brilliant movie because it is quite simply non stop entertainment. From the opening humour of Scat and Hot Lips high tailing it from one state to another to the humour of The Wiere Brothers you never stop laughing. Even if the storyline is simple it doesn't really matter because it needs to be no more, just a perfect vehicle for plenty of musical comedy.