ROAD TO ZANZIBAR
(director: Victor Schertzinger; screenwriters: Frank Butler/Don Hartman/based on a story by Don Hartman and Sy Bartlett; cinematographer: Ted Tetzlaff; editor: Alma Macrorie; music: Jimmy Van Heusen; cast: Bing Crosby (Chuck Reardon), Bob Hope (“Fearless” Frazier), Dorothy Lamour (Donna Latour), Una Merkel (Julia Quimby), Eric Blore (Charles Kimble), Georges Renavent (Saunders); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Paul Jones; Paramount; 1941)
“This Bing Crosby-Bob Hope road film lacks spontaneity and the humor seems forced.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This Bing Crosby-Bob Hope road film lacks spontaneity and the humor seems forced. The sophistication level of the comedy is not that much higher than an Abbott and Costello pic. It’s based on a story by Don Hartman and Sy Bartlett, and is written by Frank Butler and Don Hartman. Director Victor Schertzinger (“Love me Forever”/”Road to Singapore”/”The Mikado“) does a workman like job keeping the money-making formula perking along.
The duo play a pair of side-show circus performers, Hubert “Fearless” Frazier (Bob Hope) and Chuck Reardon (Bing Crosby), doing a human cannonball act, who get stuck in South Africa when their carnival burns down. Blamed for the accidental fire, they flee the French police. Caught in a nightclub, an eccentric diamond mine owner, Charles Kimble (Eric Blore), pays for the damages and sells them a diamond mine for $5,000–which happens to be their fare money home. When Fearless then sells the questionable mine to a dangerous thug for $7,000, they have to flee because the thug wants them to take him to the lost mine. The boys then can’t resist helping fellow American Julia Quimby (Una Merkel), who asks them to bid at a slave auction for Donna Latour (Dorothy Lamour) to save her from slave traders. When the Brooklyn gold diggers realize the boys have a roll, they make up another story of having to go into the middle of the jungle to save Donna’s father and get the boys to pay for the safari. Julia’s aim for the safari is to get the wavering Donna to accept the marriage proposal of a wealthy plantation owner. But on the trek through the jungle, Donna falls in love with Chuck. The girls go on alone to meet the millionaire, while the boys get taken by a native tribe and to ge free Fearless has to fight in a cage a gorilla to prove they’re white gods. When the natives are not convinced, the boys are prepped to be eaten but instigate a brawl amongst the natives and escape. Back in the port town, the girls again meet the boys and say they turned back because Donna loves Chuck.
The inane story, the racist treatment of the African natives, the weak comedy and the forgettable songs by Bing, make this one of their weaker road films. It was the second of the seven “Road to” movies Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour made over a 20 year period.
REVIEWED ON 8/19/2011 GRADE: C