ROAD TO MOROCCO, THE
(director: David Butler; screenwriters: Frank R. Butler/Don Hartman; cinematographer: William Mellor; editor: Irene Morra; music: Victor Young; cast: Bing Crosby (Jeff Peters), Bob Hope (Orville ‘Turkey’ Jackson), Dorothy Lamour (Princess Shalmar), Anthony Quinn (Mullay Kasim), Dona Drake (Mihirmah, Handmaiden), Vladimir Sokoloff (Hyder Khan), George Givot (Neb Jolla, Rival Sheik), Yvonne De Carlo (Handmaiden); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Paul Jones; Paramount; 1942)
“More Republican zany than Democrat zany.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The third of the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby Road films (“The Road to Singapore”-1940 and “The Road to Zanzibar”- 1941) is a featherweight slapdash spoof of another Third World location, that features a talking camel among its many silly set pieces (at the film’s conclusion the camel utters “This is the screwiest picture I’ve ever been in”). It’s directed by David Butler and written by Frank R. Butler and Don Hartman (they teamed up to write the first two road pics). Along with the Road to Utopia, it’s arguably the best of their road flicks, but still not engaging enough to do the trick for me. Hope basically does his cabaret act of the fumbling second banana, callow, self-deprecating, fast-talking conniver who ends up talking to himself, and ogler of the ladies but remaining asexual; while Crosby is the handsome crooner (“Moonlight Becomes You”) leader who is Hope’s foil but is more than his equal with the ladies. The duo play it loosely in a tongue-in-cheek manner, but the sight gags and topical jokes are square and the nuttiness is more Republican zany than Democrat zany.
After their freighter accidentally explodes shipwrecked American stowaways Orville ‘Turkey’ Jackson (Bob Hope) and his childhood friend Jeff Peters (Bing Crosby) find themselves on the shores of Morocco, as they ride into town with a camel who spit in Hope’s eye. Broke and hungry, Jeff decides to sell Orville to slave traders for $200. Troubled after seeing the ghost of his late revered aunt (Hope in a wig), Jeff relents and decides to rescue Orville but instead finds him set to marry within a few days the beautiful Princess Shalamar (Dorothy Lamour). The Princess was supposed to marry the ruthless bandit sheik chieftain Mullay Kasim (Anthony Quinn), but the seer warns her that her first husband will die within a week but the second husband will live a long and happy life. When the seer finds out his calculations were wrong because he mistook fireflies in his dirty telescope for planets, the Princess changes her plans and decides she loves Jeff. Hope hooks up with one of the Princess’s handmaidens who befriended him, Mihirmah (Dona Drake), and the foursome try to escape from the wrathful Kasim by taking a boat to New York.
As far as I’m concerned, the best line was uttered by Lamour “A goose is beautiful until it stands next to a peacock.” The aimless wartime good-time, crowd-pleasing fluff piece seems dated today and the humor fails to hold up.
REVIEWED ON 5/2/2005 GRADE: C+