I watched “Road to Bali” the other day with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour. They have a restored version of it on Amazon Prime Video (included in their subscription price). Because I now watch all Amazon Prime stuff through my Roku Ultra, it is officially a Roku Adventure.
This style of humor is not going to reach most modern audiences, although it is rightly said that this type of movie launched an entire genre of wisecracking films (such as “Oceans Eleven” and all kinds of other surface-level comic movies that winked at the audience).
This is not even in the top 4 of the roadshow films. The one you want to start with is “Road to Morocco.” You might want to finish there as well, but it’s the best of them.
Still, you can get some laughs here and there in “Bali.” I thought the best laugh was when a romantic scene was obviously coming up between Crosby and Lamour, Hope, sitting in the bowels of the sailboat they were in, quips to the audience: “He's going to sing, folks. Now's the time to go out and get the popcorn.”
But otherwise, even for my affinity for Hope and Crosby, this movie was often pretty dull. Still, it is a historic piece of film if only because of the stars.
I then watched 1947’s ”My Favorite Brunette” with two members of the roadshow team: Hope and Lamour. It was also on Amazon Prime Video. The humor will likely not touch most audiences today, but this is one of Hope’s better films with (for its kind) a tight script.
Hope plays a child portrait photograph who is a wannabe private detective. There is a private detective who has an office right across the hall from him. This is how Hope gets involved in impersonating a private dick while the real one is off on some other business.
Yeah, it’s campy to the extreme. Lamour’s character is never defined well. She’s left drifting. Peter Lorre plays one of the bad guys. He seems slightly misused as well, but get better toward the end. It’s a dumb plot (which is part of the gag, I guess) but the old-style gumshoe narration by Hope makes the film. It’s a nice spoof of Sam Spade and company.
A slight spoiler alert, but not necessary for those who know the gist of these films. Still…if you plan to watch this, you might rather be surprised. At the very end there is a hilarious cameo of — you guessed it — Bing Crosby who plays the executioner who has to be told by the warden at the last minute that there will be no execution (of Bob Hope’s character). Crosby is very disappointed.