The Road To Rio

"Very Good"

The Road To Rio Review


In The Road To Rio, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour appear in their fifth "Road" picture with The Road To Rio closing out the 1940s and the dependable series, after which there were only a few minor flare-ups in the next 15 years (The Road To Bali in 1952 and the final The Road To Hong Kong in 1962).

The Road To Rio stands apart from the other "Road" films as having the most eclectic mix of film, radio, and recording celebrities and references. Where other "Road" films concern themselves with cinematic deconstruction (The Road To Utopia, The Road To Bali) and others are mired in B-movie plot development (The Road To Singapore, The Road To Zanzibar), this "Road" proceeds more like a variety show within a flimsy extended sketch comedy framework.

In The Road To Rio, Bob and Bing make a run for it after burning down a circus and causing hell on earth. On the run, they hide out on an ocean liner and they both fall hard for the luminous, sexy Lucia Maria de Andrade (Dorothy Lamour). But while the boys are following her around like lap dogs they find out that Lucia is under the evil spell of her sinister aunt (Gale Sondergaard -- who else?). To curry favor with Lucia, our duo sidestep each other to help her and end up, as always, in too deep. But as long as there are woman on board they don't care.

The plot itself is insignificant -- in fact the narrative is along the lines of such previous Hope spy spoofs as They Got Me Covered, My Favorite Blonde, and My Favorite Brunette. What is significant is the comic set pieces and the performing guest stars (the Andrews sisters, the Wiere brothers, Jerry Colonna -- hell, even Tor Johnson makes an appearance). The film is also rife in show biz references to the likes of Frank Sinatra, Inner Sanctum, Kool Cigarettes, Bogart and Bacall, Betty Grable, Crosby's racehorses, and the Warner brothers. It's a veritable privy of pop -- most of which will be completely unintelligible to folks whose knowledge of pop history begins with Foreigner and Sugar Ray.

The director of The Road To Rio is Norman Z. McLeod and it is both fascinating and jaw-dropping to see how McLeod rips off his own earlier Marx brothers romp Monkey Business, this time with Hot Lips (Hope) and Skats (Crosby) as stowaways on an ocean liner bound for Rio. Like the Marx brothers, half the film concerns Hot Lips and Skats trying to avoid the crew members of the ship. McLeod even has the audacity to re-create the entire barbershop scene from Monkey Business, transformed into a Hope and Crosby turn.

Out of all the "Road" films The Road to Rio boasts the best cast of villains. Frank Faylen and Joseph Vitale are effectively sinister heavies and the Spider Woman herself, Gale Sondergaard (right on the cusp of being blacklisted), is on hand as the cold and slinky villainess.

The Rio To Rio is a pleasant and breezy treat from an era that loved celebrities much more than they hated them. So don't take a long, wet leap, give your frown the Full Fuller, cackle at Hope and Crosby, grin like the Wiere brothers and you'll discover the world is not such a sink hole after all.

Aka Road to Rio.

With a girl from Ipanema.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 60 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 1st November 2012

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Norman Z. McLeod

Producer: Daniel Dare

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