SUtS: Bob Hope

Carrie’s choice: Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number (1966)

Airing 11:30AM EST

Yeah. You’re right. It’s a great title. This is a recommendation mostly because it looks hilarious.

It begins with a fairly popular plot of escape: an actress is trying to escape from Hollywood, because they do not take her seriously enough as an actress. In proper Bob Hope fashion, a real estate agent helps by inviting her to his cabin, but then has to hide her from everyone- including his wife. And as we used to say in improv: hilarity ensues.

Bob Hope is simply one of “those” people. One of the people that are so important to culture that we periodically have to just pick a day to acknowledge them. Bob Hope is primarily known for entertainment value, and I generally expect amusement from him. This film is no exception. The plot and style seem to be the gold standard of comedy for film at this time, and if I haven’t pointed it out yet, the classic film comedies are my favourites. This is the kind of movie to watch curled up on the couch after a long day, which, I think, is one of the best kinds.

Brandie’s choice: Road to Morocco (1942)

Airing 8:00PM EST

Of all of the Road movies, this one, and the first, Road to Singapore (1940, incidentally airing at 1:15PM today), are my favorites.

Each of the Road movies has its particular charms, to be sure. Bob and Bing are an absolute hoot, and their habit of breaking the fourth wall to converse with the audience is something unusual and fun, as if the audience itself has a role right there in the picture. One of my favorite of these asides occurs in Road to Bali (1952, incidentally also airing today, at 6:15PM) when, as Bing prepares to serenade Dorothy Lamour in the moonlight, Bob turns to the camera and whispers, “He’s gonna sing, folks. Now’s the time to go and get your popcorn!”

These kinds of moments abound through this series of films, and it’s a testament to the friendship between these two men and their respective comedic abilities that they are able to maintain their hilarious, almost manic energy through seven pairings. Road to Morocco is the third film pairing the duo, and it is the first of the Road pictures that was written specifically for Hope and Crosby (instead of being rewritten from pre-existing scripts).

The appeal of these movies doesn’t come from the songs, which are decent if not memorable, or from the exotic settings, though that only adds to the craziness. Nor are these films strictly about plot. The joy and the hilarity of these films comes from their subversive insistence on poking fun at the Hollywood establishment, and Hope and Crosby latch onto this element of the script with an almost indecent sense of glee. The movies are not mere comedy or musical; each is a sometimes biting satire of the movie business, with Hope and Crosby taking on the roles of critics, commentators, and enthusiastic roasters. Lamour serves as the eye candy, and the object of affection over which Hope and Crosby spar throughout the film–a rather thankless role, to be sure, but Lamour shines in every instance, and the films would not be nearly as effective, nor as enjoyable, without her.

And in Road to Morocco, the human actors are almost overshadowed by their camel counterparts.

The camel’s spit take at the end of this clip wasn’t planned, but everyone loved the duo’s reactions to the camel’s impropriety, and the shot was left in the final film. And thank God for that–it’s one of the most memorable moments in a series of memorable moments from these films.

Yes, this is only a taste of what you’re in for with the Road films. So try to catch all of the ones being shown today (in addition to the ones already mentioned, TCM is also showing 1941’s Road to Zanzibar at 2:45PM and 1946’s Road to Utopia at 4:30PM) to see all of the hilarity.

But if you can only see one, make it Road to Morocco. Trust me–you’ll be hooked.

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