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Road to Morocco

Road to Morocco(1942)

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teaser Road to Morocco (1942)


Jeff Peters and Turkey Jackson, a pair of con artists, are marooned in the Arabian desert after a shipwreck. Short of cash, Jeff sells Turkey into slavery, but when a bout of conscience inspires him to rescue his friend, he discovers that Turkey is now the romantic consort of the beautiful princess Shalmar. Their rivalry over her doesn't last long for evil sheik Mullay Kasim decides he wants her for himself. Despite a court astrologer's dire prediction for their future, the duo decide to risk it all and rescue the princess.

Director: David Butler
Producer: Paul Jones
Screenplay: Frank Butler, Don Hartman
Cinematography: William C. Mellor
Editing: Irene Morra
Art Direction: Hans Dreier, Robert Usher
Music: Victor Young
Cast: Bing Crosby (Jeff Peters), Bob Hope (Turkey Jackson), Dorothy Lamour (Princess Shalmar), Anthony Quinn (Mullay Kasim) Dona Drake (Mihirmah), Mikhail Rasumny (Ahmed Fey), Vladimir Sokoloff (Hyder Khan), Monte Blue (Aide to Mullay Kasim), Yvonne De Carlo (Handmaiden), Dan Seymour (Arabian Buyer), Richard Loo (Chinese Announcer), Nestor Paiva (Arab Sausage Vendor), Kent Rogers (Camel).
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Why THE ROAD TO MOROCCO is Essential

The third of the Road pictures starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour, Road to Morocco is widely considered the best entry in the most popular comedy series in Hollywood history. With non-stop wise-cracks, a nonsensical adventure plot and a wisecracking camel, it's also one of the funniest movies ever made.

After two films reshaped from screenplays written for other actors, this was the first totally original Road picture, written specifically to showcase the three stars.

Hope and Crosby were the top comedy team of the '40s. From 1941 through 1943, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello ranked ahead of at least one of them at the box office, but by 1944, Hope and Crosby had pushed that team to number nine, after which Abbott and Costello fell out of the top ten.

In addition to spoofing such popular genres as the jungle adventure or, in this case, a costume drama in the Arabian Nights vein, the "Road Pictures" were the height of Hollywood self-parody, filled with in-jokes about the series' stars and the movies in general. As such they stand as some of the most comical send-ups of the studio industry and its mass-produced entertainments. Their only rivals in that area were the studio's cartoons, which regularly spoofed popular films and celebrities. As with the best parodies, one important element of their lasting popularity is the fact that the best of the Road Pictures are funny even without detailed knowledge of the genres or the industry they spoofed.

The Road films were among the most prominent examples of the career synergy in which both Hope and Crosby pioneered, using film appearances, radio shows and (in Crosby's case) recordings to cross-promote each other. This franchise drew on the comic feud they had created on their respective radio shows, with each guesting on the other's show to swap insults (and build the listening audience). Similarly, the films are filled with bickering and insults, often based on the actors' distinguishing physical characteristics (e.g., Crosby's ears, Hope's nose) and talents.

by Frank Miller

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teaser Road to Morocco (1942)

Road to Morocco's biggest song hit was Bing Crosby's solo "Moonlight Becomes You." It was on the hit parade for 14 weeks, hitting the top spot twice. In addition to Crosby, Glenn Miller and his Orchestra recorded it in the '40s. Later significant recordings featured Chet Baker, Ella Fitzgerald and John Pizzarelli. The song also turns up on the soundtrack of Star Trek: First Contact (1996).

In 1943, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby starred in a radio version of Road to Morocco on Lux Radio Theatre with big band singer Ginny Simms in Dorothy Lamour's role.

Road to Morocco was one of the three films Trudy Kockenlocker (Betty Hutton) was supposed to be seeing with suitor Norval Jones on the night she hit her head and married a G.I. in Preston Sturges' World War II comedy The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944).

Road to Morocco was followed by four more Road Pictures: Road to Utopia (1946), Road to Rio (1947), Road to Bali (1952) and The Road to Hong Kong (1962). Since Dorothy Lamour was retired by the time the last film was made, she was given only a cameo role as herself. Bing Crosby wanted to cast Brigitte Bardot in the female lead, but eventually the role went to Joan Collins.

The Road Pictures' parodies of popular film genres inspired the films of Mel Brooks and the early works of Woody Allen. In addition, the films' self-referential comedy is a common element in many of Allen's films.

A poster for Road to Morocco can be seen in the background of one panel on page one of Alan Moore's cult favorite comic book mini-series V for Vendetta, which debuted in 1982.

Before Crosby's 1977 death, there was talk of another Road Picture, Road to the Fountain of Youth. After Crosby's sudden passing, Hope considered making the film with Red Skelton or George Burns in his place, but nothing came of it.

In Mel Brooks' 1981 History of the World, Part I, Brooks and Gregory Hines sing "Road to Judea" to the tune of "(We're Off on the) Road to Morocco."

More than anything else in Dorothy Lamour's career, the Road Pictures kept the actress's name in the public eye. She often referred to herself as "the happiest and highest-paid straight woman in the business." At Bob Hope's 90th birthday party she said, "I felt like a wonderful sandwich, a slice of white bread between two slices of ham."

The 2000 Family Guy episode "Road to Rhode Island" was inspired by Road to Morocco (Seth MacFarlane is a big fan of the Road Pictures) and includes a title tune set to the same music as the film's title number.

by Frank Miller

People Weekly interview with Dorothy Lamour
Dorothy Lamour: 1914-1996 by Richard Severo

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teaser Road to Morocco (1942)

Working on the first Road Picture, Anthony Quinn had been the recipient of so many jibes from Bob Hope and Bing Crosby that he had threatened to beat them up. Although attractive and athletic, Quinn at the time was confined to mostly villainous roles, possibly because of his all-purpose ethnic look. During the filming of Road to Morocco, Hope announced, "Anthony Quinn and I both suffer from gross miscasting when we were born for romantic leads." Crew members couldn't tell if he was joking about himself or himself and Quinn or maybe even not joking at all.

When Crosby saw Hope decked out in Arabian finery for his scene as Dorothy Lamour's consort, he said, "Right now you look like a pile of old, tired laundry." Hope shot back, "And you look like the bag for it."

One of the biggest goofs in Road to Morocco is the presence of two-humped (Bactrian) camels in the Arabian desert. Arabian camels have only one hump.

One of Dorothy Lamour's handmaidens is Yvonne De Carlo, in one of her first film appearances. Once she reached stardom, De Carlo would star in her fair share of desert adventures like those satirized in Road to Morocco.

Cowboy star Kermit Maynard, who was between studio contracts when he made Road to Morocco, led the stunt riders in the chase scene set in the Casbah.

Road to Morocco was in the box office top 20 for the 1942-43 season. Its success, after a November 1942 release, helped propel Bob Hope to the number two spot on Quigley Publications' poll to name the top box office stars of 1943 and helped Bing Crosby place fourth.

by Frank Miller


"This must be the place they empty all the old hourglasses." -- Bob Hope, as Turkey Jackson, on seeing the desert

"Like Webster's Dictionary, we're Morocco bound." -- Bing Crosby, as Jeff Peters, and Hope, as Turkey Jackson, singing the title song

"I'll lay you eight to five we meet Dorothy Lamour." -- Crosby, as Jeff Peters, and Hope, as Turkey, referring to the Road Pictures

"For any villains we may meet we haven't any fears; Paramount will protect us because we've signed for five more years." -- Crosby, as Jeff, and Hope, spoofing their own status as movie stars

"How'd you get the spinach, old boy?"
"Funny thing, a guy I've never seen before in my life gives me 2,500 Kolacs...that's 200 federal diplomas, are you listening?"
"Two hundred skins? Why, what for?"
"I sold him something."
"Well you've got nothing to sell! We've already hocked your pivot tooth.
"It wasn't much, but it was all I had, and was he anxious to get it!"
"What did you sell him?"
"Look, uh, Orville, I want you to keep very calm now. Don't get excited."
"What did you sell him?"
"Oh, well, for a minute I -- HUH? Me? Wait a minute, get that guy and give him those fish back! What's the matter with you. You can't sell me. I'm not a horse! It's just the way I comb my hair!" -- Hope and Crosby

"We're going to get married on...uh...when is the big day, Dream Thing?"
"When the moon, in its last quarter, silvers the blossoms of the almond tree. That's Tuesday night, about nine." -- Hope and Dorothy Lamour, as Princess Shalmar

"Now kiss him on the nose, and see if you can straighten that out." -- Crosby, after Lamour, as Princess Shalmar, kisses Hope so hard it makes the curled toes of his Arabian slippers straighten out.

"A fine thing. First, you sell me for two hundred bucks. Then I'm gonna marry the Princess; then you cut in on me. Then we're carried off by a desert sheik. Now, we're gonna have our heads chopped off."
"I know that."
"Yeah, but the people who came in the middle of the picture don't."
"You mean they missed my song?" -- Hope and Crosby

"We must storm the palace"
"You storm. I'll stay here and drizzle." -- Crosby and Hope

"Sometimes, when I see how silly people behave, I'm glad I'm a camel."
"Aww. I'm glad you're a camel, too, Mabel." -- Sara Berner, as the voice of Mabel the camel, and Kent Taylor, as the voice of the male camel

"I can't go on! No food, no water. It's all my fault. We're done for! It's got me. I can't stand it! No food, nothing! No food, no water! No food!"
"What's the matter with you anyway. There's New York. We'll be picked up in a few minutes."
"You had to open your big mouth and ruin the only good scene I got in the picture. I might have won the Academy Award!" -- Hope and Crosby, after the ship carrying them home blows up

"This is the screwiest picture I've ever been in!" -- Last line, delivered by Taylor, as the voice of the camel

Bob Hope - The Road Well-Traveled by Lawrence J. Quirk
My Side of the Road by Dorothy Lamour

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teaser Road to Morocco (1942)

Bing Crosby and Bob Hope first met on a street in New York in 1932 and then shared a stage together as part of the live entertainment at the opening engagement of MGM's The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932). Seven years later, Crosby invited Hope to join him entertaining the crowds at the Del Mar racetrack near San Diego. They performed a few classic vaudeville routines to the delight of the celebrity-packed house, which included Paramount production head William LeBaron. With both stars signed to the studio, he decided to look for the right vehicle in which to team them on-screen.

Finally he settled on Beach of Dreams, a screenplay originally written for George Burns and Gracie Allen, then re-tooled as Road to Mandalay for Fred MacMurray and Jack Oakie. When the latter stars turned it down, it sat on the shelf for years. In re-shaping it for Hope and Crosby it became Road to Singapore (1940). With the natural choice of Dorothy Lamour, known for exotic roles since becoming a star in The Jungle Princess (1936), the team was born. Although Road to Singapore is the most serious of the Road Pictures, the stars' clowning made it a huge hit.

By the time the duo made Road to Singapore, Hope and Crosby had already begun making frequent guest appearances on each other's radio programs. From the first, their writers had created an imaginary feud between the two, who exchanged comic insults to the audience's delight. Hope poked fun at Crosby's singing, his ears, his four sons and his wealth. Crosby responded with insults about Hope's nose and paunch, his bad luck with women and his bad jokes.

From the first, Hope and Crosby handed the scripts for the Road Pictures over to their radio writers, who then developed a string of gags for each star. They would throw in those off-the-cuff, improvised lines throughout the filming. Lamour was totally lost on her first day of shooting Road to Singapore and yelled, "Hey, boys, will you please let me get my line in!" The ad-libbing didn't please original screenwriters Frank Butler and Don Hartman, but they couldn't do much about it. At one point, Hope said to Butler, "Hey, Frank! If you hear anything that sounds like one of your lines, shout 'Bingo!'" The writers finally complained to the front office, but by then LeBaron had viewed the rushes and knew he had a hit on his hands.

Eventually Lamour learned that the only way to cope with her co-stars' ad-libs was to get a good night's sleep before shooting. Instead of learning her lines, she just studied the script so she'd know what points had to be covered, then slip them in between the stars' laugh lines whenever she could. She also watched all of the rushes so she could get an idea of what the films were really about.

With Road to Singapore, their contrasting character types and comic interplay were set for the rest of the Road pictures. Crosby was the eternal con artist who always gets the girl. Hope was his stooge, an optimistic clown who expects to come out on top and rarely sees how his partner is using him.

With Road to Singapore a box-office hit, the studio ordered another film for the team. This time they turned a shelved screenplay, Find Colonel Fawcett, inspired by the explorations of Stanley and Livingstone, into Road to Zanzibar (1941), a take-off on jungle adventures.

Originally, Paramount wanted to make Road to Moscow as the third Road Picture, but they couldn't get a script together in time. Instead they moved the action to North Africa. Road to Moscow would resurface as the idea for the fourth film in the series, but with anti-Soviet sentiments rising at the end of World War II, the setting was switched to Alaska for Road to Utopia (1946).

Road to Morocco (1942) was the first Road Picture written specifically for Hope, Crosby and Lamour. As with the first two, Butler and Hartman wrote the script (with uncredited assistance from Hope and Crosby's radio writers). The director of the first two Road pictures, Victor Schertzinger, was slated to helm Road to Morocco, but with his sudden death in 1941, David Butler took over. He previously had directed Hope and Lamour in Caught in the Draft (1941)

by Frank Miller

The One and Only Bing by Bob Thomas

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teaser Road to Morocco (1942)

The desert scenes for Road to Morocco were shot on location in Yuma, AZ.

Although as in most of the Road Pictures, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby give the impression of ad-libbing their way through the film, most of their off-the cuff quips were either in the script or written by the writers of the stars' radio shows. One moment nobody scripted was the scene where the camel spit at Hope. Director David Butler kept the camera running, and Hope's honest reaction was used in the final cut.

Hope and Crosby kidded Butler relentlessly about his weight. For a scene in which enemy horses chased them through the streets, he advised them not to jump out of the street until he gave them the signal, allowing them plenty of time to get out of the way. But as they ran, the horses kept getting closer and closer with no signal from the director. Finally, the stars panicked and jumped. When they complained about their bruises, Butler laughed at them and told them they'd ruined the shot by jumping too soon. Some crew members thought he was getting back at them, and Hope nicknamed him "The Murderer."

For one special-effects shot a magic ring was supposed to turn Hope into a monkey. When the director instructed Crosby to keep perfectly still so his position wouldn't change while Hope switched places with the monkey, the singer quipped, "Don't worry, Dave. You're making a monkey out of Ski Nose, and you think I won't stand still for that? Try me, brother. I'll be a real statue."

Paramount discarded one ending of Road to Morocco in favor of the final release version. In the rejected ending, Hope and Crosby enlisted in the Army to fight in World War II. The last line was "See you on the road to Tokyo."

Road to Morocco became particularly topical when, two days before its New York City premiere, U.S. troops landed in Morocco as part of World War II's Operation Torch.

To capitalize on the slave auction scene, Paramount arranged to auction off dates with Hollywood bachelors at the film's premiere. Bidders pledged to buy war bonds.

To publicize Road to Morocco, the studio had cards placed on water fountains in each town where it played. They read, "Thirsty for Entertainment? See what happens when Bob Hope chases Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour to a desert oasis on the Road to Morocco."

by Frank Miller

My Side of the Road by Dorothy Lamour

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teaser Road to Morocco (1942)

After teaming up for their first film together - Road to Singapore (1940) - and parlaying that success into a sequel, Road to Zanzibar (1941), the musical-comedy team of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby settled into a winning formula for Road to Morocco (1942), the third and often considered the best of their "Road" pictures by Hope-Crosby connoisseurs. A freewheeling spoof of the Arabian Nights genre, this entry finds our boys, Jeff (Crosby) and Turkey (Hope), shipwrecked off the African Coast. As they make their way toward Morocco, Jeff finds a way to make some quick money by selling off Turkey as a slave. A change of heart, however, motivates Jeff to rescue his friend, only to find him comfortably installed in a luxurious palace, betrothed to a beautiful princess (Dorothy Lamour). It's all part of a grand master plan, foretold by the court astrologer, and fated to end badly for Turkey, courtesy of Mullay Kassim (Anthony Quinn), the princess's jealous suitor.

By the time Hope and Crosby made Road to Morocco, their easy-going on-screen chemistry and comic rivalry were well established; Crosby's unscrupulous, self-promoting wise guy coupled with Hope's delusionary vain but unheroic bumbler. Equally distinctive was the loose, improvisational style of the film which often broke down the wall between the screen and the viewer whenever characters would directly address the audience. Hollywood in-jokes and a sense of self-parody were a key to the series' success and Road to Morocco doesn't waste any time poking fun at its own formulaic qualities in the opening musical number when the boys sing "I'll lay you eight to five we meet Dorothy Lamour" and "For any villains we may meet we haven't any fears; Paramount will protect us because we've signed for five more years."

Part of the film's goofy charm can be attributed to director David Butler who would work with Hope in several other comedies. "If anything happened that was out of the ordinary, I'd always let the cameras run," said Butler (in Road to Box Office: The Seven Film Comedies of Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour by Randall G. Mielke). "And we got some of our funniest stuff after the scene was over. I'd let the camera roll until they got off the set, or walked out, or whatever happened." One of the funniest bits, which was completely unscripted, occurred when a camel spit in Hope's face after kissing him on the back. Hope's reaction was so unexpectedly funny that Butler decided to leave it in the final cut. Less humorous was a scene where Crosby and Hope were almost trampled to death by horses while fleeing down a narrow side street. "Great shot," said Butler as the two stars dusted themselves off and attended to any wounds sustained during the incident. "Great shot?" said an incredulous Crosby. "You almost killed us!" "Oh, I wouldn't do that," said Butler calmly. "Not until the final scene, anyway." (From Road to Box Office, McFarland & Co.) After this film, Hope would half-jokingly refer to Butler as "The Murderer."

Among the "Road" pictures, Road to Morocco contains some of the best sight gags in the series and includes a talking camel ("This is the screwiest picture I've ever been in!"), a desert sheik peace conference sabotaged by Hope and Crosby with exploding cigars and the 'hotfoot' treatment, and a mirage sequence in which the three leads lip-sync to each other's voices during a reprise of the film's romantic ballad, "Moonlight Becomes You."

Fans of Anthony Quinn will get an additional kick out of seeing the actor have fun with his stereotyped supporting role in Road to Morocco. Dorothy Lamour recalled in her biography, My Side of the Road: "Anthony Quinn played the villain. Old-time actor Monte Blue, who was also in the film, walked over to him [Quinn] one day and told him, "It's remarkable you look so much like Rudy Valentino. I've never seen such a likeness, and I should know - I worked with him." The writers obviously agreed, because they wrote one scene in which Tony kidnaps me and gallops away over the sand dunes, very much like Valentino and Agnes Ayres in The Sheik [1921]." Quinn had previously played a villain in Road to Singapore, Hope and Crosby's first "Road" picture. Road to Morocco is also notable as one of Yvonne De Carlo's first film appearances.

For the most part, the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby "Road" pictures were critic-proof; audiences flocked to see them regardless of the reviews. But Road to Morocco garnered its share of positive notices. The New York Times stated, "It is, in short, a lampoon of all pictures having to do with exotic romance, played by a couple of wise guys who can make a gag do everything but lay an egg," while Variety proclaimed it "a bubbly spontaneous entertainment without a semblance of sanity." There were detractors of course like the Herald Tribune which accused the film of hitting a new low in vulgarity but the Academy obviously felt otherwise when it awarded Road to Morocco two Oscar® nominations - one for Best Original Screenplay and one for Best Sound.

Producer: Paul Jones
Director: David Butler
Screenplay: Frank Butler, Don Hartman
Cinematography: William C. Mellor
Film Editing: Irene Morra
Art Direction: Hans Dreier, Robert Usher
Music: Jimmy Van Heusen
Cast: Bing Crosby (Jeff Peters), Bob Hope (Orville Jackson/Aunt Lucy), Dorothy Lamour (Princess Shalmar), Anthony Quinn (Mullay Kassim), Dona Drake (Mihirmah), Vladimir Sokoloff (Hyder Khan).
BW-83m. Closed captioning.

by Jeff Stafford

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Awards & Honors

Road to Morocco received Oscar® nominations for Frank Butler and Don Hartman's original screenplay and Loren Ryder's sound work, but lost in both categories.

In 1996, Road to Morocco was voted a place in the National Film Registry.


"The story's absurdities, all of which are predicated on Crosby and Hope as shipwrecked stowaways cast ashore on the coast of North Africa, at no time weave a pattern of restraint. It's just a madcap holiday for the fun-makers."
- Variety

"Let us be thankful that Paramount is still blessed with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, and that it has set its cameras to tailing these two irrepressible wags on another fantastic excursion, Road to Morocco, which came to the Paramount yesterday. For the screen, under present circumstances, can hold no more diverting lure than the prospect of Hope and Crosby ambling, as they have done before, through an utterly slaphappy picture, picking up Dorothy Lamour along the way and tossing acid wisecracks at each other without a thought for reason or sense. That is what they are doing in this current reprise on trips to Singapore and Zanzibar and, as a consequence, Road to Morocco is Route 1 to delightful 'escape.'"
- Bosley Crowther, The New York Times

"...a singularly tasteless and preposterous example of the witless-wisecrack-and-zany-situation school of moviemaking -- it tosses away the talents of a couple of good performers instead of capitalizing on them."
- Howard Barnes, The New York Herald-Tribune

"Hope and Crosby's rapport has great charm, and every once in a while Hope does something -- a gesture or a dance movement -- that is prodigiously funny. Dorothy Lamour is their joint inamorata and the foil of the series; inimitably out of it, she was taken over from the pictures being satirized, and she played in the same coy, eager-to-please manner."
- Pauline Kael, 5,001 Nights at the Movies

"The Hope persona is here at its most complete -- the stud who baulks at the last fence, the sharp talker who always seems to be talking to himself, the complacent wit who depends on our recognition of references, situations, generalised feelings. At base, it's an unsympathetic character -- asexual, craven, treacherous -- but Hope's skill in timing, and his ability to work cold what is an extended cabaret act, carries him through."
- Time Out

"What I think people don't realize today is just how groundbreaking these movies were. They invented the romantic singer and comic sidekick team that Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis would take to new heights a decade later. Also these were some of the first comedies to break down the fourth wall. Bob was constantly making asides to the camera....Road to Morocco, like all the road pictures, is cinematic cotton candy. Too much of it will rot your brain but in small doses it makes one hell of a treat.

"It would be difficult to find a screen pantomime with better wartime credentials."
- Kine Weekly

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