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  Road to Bali South Seas Shenanigans
Year: 1952
Director: Hal Walker
Stars: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Murvyn Vye, Peter Coe, Ralph Moody, Leon Askin, Carolyn Jones, Michael Ansara, Jane Russell, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis
Genre: Musical, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Variety double act George (Bing Crosby) and Harold (Bob Hope) are touring Australia to bring their brand of entertainment to such cities as Melbourne, but that's not all they bring. Tonight, as they dance through their act, they notice two angry fathers standing in the wings with two willing daughters believing they are to be married to them. Well, George and Harold would hate to disappoint them, but weddings are not on their agenda and they make a break for the door. They escape, but the fathers catch up with them prompting the duo to jump off their train - while it's still moving. They don't know it yet, but they're now on the road to Bali...

It had been five years since the last Road picture, and this, the sole colour one, was to be the last until the ill-advised return to the series ten years later with Road to Hong Kong. This was made close enough to the others, however, to feel more official than that one, and the formula that made them such winners was still in place. You get the impression the three stars - Dorothy Lamour turns up presently - could sleepwalk their way through films such as these, but they seemed to be having such fun making them that there was still a sparkle; this wasn't up there with Road to Morocco or Road to Utopia, but it was still funny enough.

They don't actually reach Bali, of course, and a lot of their journey takes place over the sea, but I suppose the title is figurative. Typically convoluted, the tone veers towards the preposterous early on and stays there, but that's much of the charm. It's easy to feel tremendous goodwill towards this movie based on the previous instalments, though there were those who found it disappointing, but with all the in-jokes, breaking the fourth wall and general goofing around it has a sense of being the real thing rather than a past it tribute.

While still in Australia, George and Harold are looking for work in between song and dance routines and have to settle for a deep sea diver's job, although each thinks the other will carry out the underwater tasks. Their bosses are Pacific islanders looking for sunken treasure, and our heroes take a trip with them to their paradise home (mainly a selection of obvious but lavish sets) where they meet Lamour, playing Princess Lala. As usual, the boys have to fight over who wins the attentions of Lamour, and there are a selection of beauties to turn their heads (at one point we hear a scream "Oh no!" and are reassured by Hope that's it's OK, it's just Errol Flynn).

What the islanders haven't told George and Harold is that there happens to be a giant, man-eating squid down there guarding the treasure. Of course, Hope ventures down there oblivious and manages to fend off the monster by getting out of the suit and floating to the surface, although when Crosby asks him precisely how he did it, we not party to the information. But now George, Harold and the Princess must flee, because they have the booty and the island guards are intent on seizing it and bumping them off. There follows a shipwreck, another island, a lovesick gorilla and an active volcano, not to mention Hope and Crosby taking the buddy theme too far and getting married (accidentally, but still). Also worth watching for is the oddly disturbing flashback where the Princess reminisces about her childhood pet - a chimp with Hope's face! Yes, it's consistently smart-alecky and self-indulgent, but that's why it's amusing. Music by Johnny Burke and Joseph J. Lilley.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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