Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour in Road to Bali (1952)


(director: Hal Walker; screenwriters: Frank Butler/Hal Kanter/William Morrow; cinematographer: George Barnes; editor: Archie Marshek; music: Joseph J. Lilley/Johnny Burke/Jimmy Van Heusen; cast: Bing Crosby (George Cochran), Bob Hope (Harold Gridley), Dorothy Lamour (Princess Lala), Murvyn Vye (Prince Ken Arok), Peter Coe (Gung), Ralph Moody (Bhoma Da), Leon Askin (Ramayana); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harry Tugend; Paramount; 1952)

“Follows the usual formula for these Crosby-Hope road movies.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This is the first and only Crosby and Hope road film in color. Director Hal Walker (“Sailor Beware”/”The Stork Club”/”My Friend Irma Goes West”) follows the usual formula for these Crosby-Hope road movies; writers Frank Butler, Hal Kanter and William Morrow provide the usual one-liners and inside jokes delivered by Hope.

In Melbourne, Australia, at the turn of the twentieth century, two fast-living American song-and-dance men, Harold Gridley (Bob Hope) and George Cochran (Bing Crosby), flee the stage in the middle of their act as they’re chased onto a train by the fathers of the girls they were romancing who want a shotgun wedding. The two entertainers will end up in Port Darwin, dressed in bushy beards. At an employment agency, the desperate men get a job no one else wants diving for Prince Ken Arok’s (Murvyn Vye) sunken treasure. They will soon learn there’s a giant, man-eating squid at the sea’s bottom guarding the treasure. It’s a job that has already killed four men. During their deep-sea diving expedition in the South Pacific, they meet the pretty Princess Lala (Dorothy Lamour). She likes Bing more, but feels empathy for Hope because he reminds her of a chimpanzee she befriended as a child. The tribal chief (Ralph Moody) tells her she can marry both.

There are five songs by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen (“Chicago Style,” “Moonflowers,” “Hoot Mon,” “To See You” and “The Merry-Go-Runaround”), lush photography of the studio sets and the usual absurd story line. In other words, it’s the usual vulgar Crosby-Hope road film, with more than its share of lame jokes. The duo seem like tired travellers at this late stage of their road movie assault. The film is helped by some celebrity cameos from the likes of Jane Russell, Humphrey Bogart and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Paramount backed all but one of their road movies. They included “Road to Singapore” in 1940, “Road to Zanzibar” in 1941, the “Road to Morocco” in 1942 (probably the best in the series), the “Road to Utopia” in 1946, “Road to Rio” in 1947, and the United Artists release of “Road to Hong Kong” in 1962.