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  Road to Rio Going For A BrazilianBuy this film here.
Year: 1947
Director: Norman Z. McLeod
Stars: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Gale Sondergaard, Frank Faylen, Joseph Vitale, George Meeker, Frank Puglia, Nestor Paiva, Robert Barrat, Stanley Andrews, The Wiere Brothers, The Andrews Sisters, Jerry Colonna, Charles Middleton, Tor Johnson
Genre: Comedy
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Musical performers Scat Sweeney (Bing Crosby) and Hot Lips Barton (Bob Hope) travel the United States plying their trade, but something always happens - usually a woman - to prompt them to flee. Their latest assignment sees them get a job at a carnival and some much-needed money, but Scat has ideas for Hot Lips, specifically the high wire on a bicycle act which the owner needs someone to take care of because the last acrobat to take the position ended up falling off and in hospital for the next six months. This does not bode well for Hot Lips' future...

So began the fifth of the Road movies, putting one of the cinema's finest comedy double acts - they sang as well - in what was by now some very familiar circumstances, so before long you just knew Dorothy Lamour would show up by and by, that they would do the pat-a-cake routine, and most importantly that the laughs were guaranteed. Some of those jokes were so topical that by this time you needed specialist knowledge to catch some of the more obscure references as Hope especially traded in up to the minute gags which might not stand the test of time: not because they weren't funny, but because viewers all these decades later wouldn't know what he was on about.

If anything, the adventures were toned down from the previous instalments, certainly not as surreal as they had been in, say Road to Morocco or Road to Utopia, but if you felt the invention was flagging by this time, you probably wouldn't have noticed when the mirth generated was of such quality otherwise. The plot was strictly by the numbers as far as these things went, with Lamour the heiress they meet on board the ship to Rio (the high wire act having gone as well as you'd expect), and she is being exploited by her aunt Catherine Vail (who else but Gale Sondergaard in one of her final films before her unfortunate blacklisting in the anti-communist witch hunts?). Lamour's Lucia is unaware of the subterfuge.

That is until Scat and Hot Lips enter her life, and uncover that plot against her which naturally involves that most reliable of forties conventions, the hypnotism scheme. They actually meet Lucia when she's planning to throw herself over the side because she doesn't wish to be married against her will, but persuade her to carry on, especially when Scat falls for her; Hot Lips of course thinks it's he she likes for the ever-reliable romantic misunderstandings. As you can see, there wasn't much groundbreaking about the team's Road pictures at this stage, having settled into a comfortable cycle of rehashing the same kind of material, but when that material was of this standard, who was complaining?

Take the amusing touches such as the band our heroes assemble once in Rio, with Bing displaying hitherto unknown skill with Portuguese to sign up three locals (actually The Wiere Brothers) to fool a nightclub owner that they are all American. To do this he teaches the Brazilians one phrase in English each: "You're telling me!", "You're in the groove, Jackson!" and "This is murder!"; it's a needlessly contrived routine, but like a lot of what goes on here it's undeniably funny. It all works itself up into a genuinely hilarious comic finale where the marriage must be stopped, but not before Hope and Crosby perform a dance distraction, and Hope's old radio sidekick Jerry Colonna rides to the rescue in a ridiculously irrelevant try at upping the tension. This was the longest of the Road series, but when it was so bright with daft gags, impeccable timing, cheery songs and the like, then you wouldn't have minded if it had gone on for another hour.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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