Name: The Road to Hong Kong (1962)
IMDb: link to The Road to Hong Kong
Genres: Comedy, SciFi Country of origin: UK.
Bing Crosby as Harry Turner, Bob Hope as Chester Babcock, Joan Collins as Diane, Robert Morley as Leader of the Third Echelon, Walter Gotell as Dr. Zorbb, Dorothy Lamour as Dorothy Lamour, Felix Aylmer as Grand Lama, Mai Ling as Ming Toy, Yvonne Shima as Poon Soon, Michele Mok as Mr. Ahso. Then there is the cameo with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
Directed by: Norman Panama. Written by: Melvin Frank, Norman Panama (screenplay).
|Joan Collins, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope|
The initial tableaux:
Babcock and Turner are two minor con men who have fallen on bad times. By chance, Babcock finds the only copy (hm) of a secret Russian formula for an advanced rocket fuel. He manages to read the formula (without understanding), but destroys the written copy soon after. The pair discover that the formula is sought after, and could bring them money. They start the search for a way for Babcock to recall the specifications for the fuel.
Delineation of conflicts:
The pair search for, and find, the High Lama. The Lama's people have the lore to let Babcock remember the rocket fuel recipe. However, the Lama and all his society agree that the special concoction needed to do this should never leave their home. That is a fine mess for Hope and Crosby to bumble their way out of.
No sooner than they have ditched the High Lama's agents, the 3rd Echelon wishes to get the formula which will enable flight to the Moon. From the Moon, the 3rd Echelon hopes to bomb modern civilization (1962 style) into submission. Diane is the 3rd Echelon's agent who manipulates the con men easily. She gets them to headquarters without too much trouble.
The last conflict is for Diane's loyalty. She is loyal to her employer, but she grows to like both Babcock and Turner. Her boss is willing to do anything to get the rocket formula, including killing either or both of the con men.
Resolution: This was a vaudeville style comedy, so one does not expect a rousing ending which is a triumph of coherence. Instead, we get a couple more laughs from the film industry making fun of itself after the heroes (?) save the world but not themselves.
One line summary: Hope and Crosby in the last Road picture.
Cinematography: 5/10 This film gets an A+ for cheesiness. The rockets, the submarine, the planet at the end of the picture, and the animated fish were incredibly obviously fake. The footage of actors, though, tends to be crisp and well-framed.
Sound: 8/10 It is in mono, but has been updated for current broadcast standards. I did not catch any pop and hiss that one normally expects from 54 year old properties.
Acting: 6/10 It's a comedy and I got a couple of dozen laughs. It's hard for me to complain. However, Hope and Crosby were both rather terrible at acting in this one. On the other hand, I enjoyed Joan Collins the most. She was gorgeous in 1962, she spoke her lines well, and her singing voice was better than I expected. Dorothy Lamour and Robert Morley added good laughs.
Screenplay: 6/10 The overall plot is silly, and the script is slanted toward one-lines and sight gags. So it's not a great work of art, but it was a comedy that got me to laugh.
Final Rating: 6/10