Road To Utopia (1946)

Film Review

ROAD TO UTOPIA

Release Date: 27 February, 1946

Studio: Paramount

Director: Hal Walker

Starring: Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour

Special Notes: TCM Classic Film Festival, 2013

Road to Utopia was presented as part of the Essentials theme at the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival. Comedian and actor Greg Proops introduced the film.

Synopsis

In Alaska, Hope, Crosby and Lamour search for the map to a gold mine. While battling two sets of villains for possession of the map, our heroes vie for the affections of Lamour and insult each other at every opportunity. A pop-up window features comedian Robert Benchley commenting on the action.

Discussion

In his discussion, Proops said that Bob Hope and Bing Crosby represent show business. Both were enduring and successful in several media, including film, radio, TV and, in Crosby's case, music. The seven Road pictures (1940-1962) united their seemingly disparate talents into a spectacular duo with natural chemistry. They play off each other easily, often tossing ad-libbed barbs and insults at one another. With the pop-ups of Benchley, talking bears and fish making off-hand comments, and odd characters wandering through some scenes, the film is quite surreal. Hope frequently breaks the fourth wall by looking into the camera and inviting the audience into the joke. In contrast to all the craziness, the villains, led by Douglass Dumbrille, are played straight so that an element of menace and danger is sustained throughout the film. The movie is full of innuendo. The final joke, during which Hope addresses the audience directly, is not only outrageous, but also a clear violation of the production code. Presumably, this violation passed because it was one of the hugely popular Road movies.