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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Road to Hong Kong (released in 1962) - starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Joan Collins (the last in the Road series)

This is the last edition of the Road series staring Bing Cosby and Bob Hope. But the female lead was played by Joan Collins instead of the old time favorite Dorothy Lamour. Lamour makes a smart guest appearance in the movie for old times sake. This movie was directed by Norman Panama.
Harry Turner and Chester Babock are small time vaudeville actors and Chester suffers a localized amnesia when he is hit on the the head while hawking a do-it-yourself-space kit in India. Harry takes him to a local Lama who feeds him a wonder herb which not only restores his mind but gives him a high speed photographic memory. At the airport, Chester meets Diane, a spy for the “Third Echelon” an organization of mad scientists who are bent upon ruling the world, sorry the universe. Diane mistakes him to be a photographer sent to copy the secret Russian formula for rocket fuel. Chester memorizes the formula just by glancing at it and Diane destroys the other copy.
Soon the mad men are after the con men and they are captured. Both Harry and Chester are send in a rocket in the place of apes and tested upon successfully. The third Echelon members try to sacrifice them for science and send them to a harem to make their final hours wonderful. Diane, by now realizes that her employers are starking mad and decides to help the duo. Soon the trio are in a mad run of an escape.

Dorothy Lamour, an old friend help them outwit the pursuers and keep them at her night club. She alerts the police and the Third Echelon is raided. But Harry, Chester and Diane are trapped in a rocket which takes them to a distant planet called Plutonium where they meet the new comic duo, Frank Sinatra and Dean martin. And thus the baton passes to the next generation.
The last edition of the Road movie was not well received by the audiences and one can safely say that this is the least funniest of the series. It tends to be a spoof of all the spy movies but fails flat on deliverance. The worst transgression was the female lead, Joan Collins who is a poor replacement for Dorothy Lamour. Lamour is infinitely more attractive, stately and talented. It seems that Cosby did not want Lamour because she was too old for the franchise and she had a guest appearance because of Hope's insistence. But I can safely say age has caught up on Bing Cosby's face, more than any of his co-actors of the series. And it is pretty safe to say Joan Collins falling for 60 something Cosby was too far fetched.
This picture was not made by Paramount pictures but by a British company and has hugely spoofed off Dr. No. Many James Bond regulars like, Robert Marley, Syd Cain and Walter Gotell along with Peter Niven appear in this movie. The famous transsexual April Ashley also appears in this movie and due to the gender discriminatory practices of those years, her name was pulled from the credits.
Well this movie is worth the look because of its predecessors, but do not go looking for the yesteryear gags. The magic is gone and the remnants of it promises a glint, not the glitter of gold.

Road to Hong Kong (released in 1962) - starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Joan Collins (the last in the Road series)

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