Both Grandpa and I had our second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and we feel pretty darn good.
We each had minor arm discomfort, and I had a slight headache. But I got some CBD cream for my arm, a few Advil and life is good. I even got to see some of my family, although we stayed safe and protected.
While we have enjoyed doing our daily music videos, we stepped out of the norm and made one of Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour as they went on “The Road to Morocco.” The seven movies that the trio made from the 1940s through the early ‘60s were favorites of my parents, and I laughed with them as we watched each one. In a time of uncertainty, the three made people laugh and took their minds off the unrest for a couple of hours.
Many dubbed Hope and Crosby as the greatest ‘officially undeclared comedy team’ in history, making the best buddies pictures of all time.
The pair met in 1932 at the Friar’s Club in New York City and performed together later that same year at The Capitol Theater. Crosby was a young crooner, and Hope’s comedic talent made them a superb combination. They began digging up old vaudeville routines, and although the ‘shticks’ were not especially funny, the two made everyone laugh by showing that they were having fun.
The first ‘road’ picture was originally called “Follow the Sun” and was written with Fred MacMurray and Jack Oakie in mind. MacMurray played the father on the famous “My Three Sons” television program, but he was a very big movie star back in the ‘30s and ‘40s. Oakie made his mark in a movie with Charlie Chaplin and was in more than 80 movies, usually typecast as a happy-go-lucky buffoon.
MacMurray and Oakie passed on the movie, and a few years later the parts went to Hope and Crosby. Paramount changed the name to “Road to Mandalay,” found a romantic interest for them in Dorothy Lamour and the magic began.
Still unhappy with the title, the studio changed the name again, this time to “The Road to Singapore.” They claimed it sounded more exotic. Since Crosby and Lamour were bigger stars at the time, Hope got third billing for both the movie and the poster.
“The Road to Singapore” was well received, and six more ‘Road’ pictures were done, each one following the same basic plot. Crosby would come up with a get-rich-quick scheme and have Hope do the work. They always vowed that no woman would come between them during their mission, but then both sets of eyes turned when Lamour entered, usually in a sarong or other provocative outfit for that time.
Hope would make jokes and try his best, but Bing usually got the girl with his crooning love songs. In two movies, Hope ended up with the girl, but “Road to Rio” involved hypnosis, which made it even funnier. His character always had a nickname like Turkey or Fearless, and he would overact and improvise lines, often making Crosby laugh.
In each movie, there was a villain trying to stop the two from accomplishing their mission or getting the girl. Neither were very brave. When confronted they used humor to distract the offender. They usually played a version of patty cake and then punched their rival in the nose. This worked most of the time, but in “The Road to Morocco,” it did not. They said into the camera, “That gag sure gets around, huh? Yeah, right back to us!”
The only film in which the routine was not used was “Road to Utopia.”
All seven films were hits, and nobody would ever duplicate that success, although there were attempts.
Hope hosted the Oscars 19 times, but never won one for his films individually. He was famous for his whining about it and making jokes during the show. He received several honors from the Academy for his body of work and his dedication to our military troops that he entertained all over the world.
Crosby won an Oscar for best actor in “Going My Way” in 1945. Lamour, known as the ‘sarong queen’ for her gorgeous figure that she often showed off in that attire, was the love interest in six of the films. Crosby wanted a younger star in the last one and chose Joan Collins. Hope refused to do a ‘Road’ picture without Lamour, so she made a brief appearance and sang a song.
I love to watch these films, as I truly believe they are timeless. I can still hear my parents laughing.
Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with several local senior care and advocacy groups. Reach her at email@example.com.