Road to Bali


George and Harold, American song-and dance-men performing in Melbourne, Australia, have to leave in a hurry to avoid various marriage proposals. They end up in Darwin, where they take jobs as pearl divers for a prince. They are taken by boat to an idyllic island on the way to Bali, (the location is unclear, but possibly in the Maluku Islands). They vie with each other for the favours of exotic (and half-Scottish) Princess Lala, a cousin of the Prince. The hazardous dive produces a chest of priceless jewels, which the prince plans to claim as his own.

After escaping from the prince and his henchmen, the three are shipwrecked and washed up on another island. Lala is now in love with both of the boys and can’t decide which to choose. Following further romantic complications, the boys participate in a traditional marriage ceremony, both thinking they’re marrying Lala. In fact, she’s being unwillingly married to the already much-married King while they end up married to each other.

Displeased with two men being married to each other, the volcano god initiates a massive eruption. After escaping it, the three end up on yet another beach where Lala chooses George over Harold. Undaunted, Harold conjures up Jane Russell from a basket by playing a flute and thinks that he’s going to get her, but she too rejects Harold, and George walks off with both Jane and Lala. Harold is left alone on the beach, demanding that the film shouldn’t finish and asking the audience to stick around to see what’s going to happen.


It is rather strange that I’m beginning a franchise with the final film, but seeing as how I’m undecided about watching the others, it won’t make that much of a difference in the long run. Those  familiar with Family Guy may notice that once or twice a season, Brian and Stewie will go on an adventure somewhere. These are based on films such as Road to Bali and its predecessors.

What is this about?

The sixth and final Road movie (and the only one in color) that Bing Crosby and Bob Hope made for Paramount finds the boys acting as scuba divers in the South Pacific. It’s not long before the pair winds up on a tropical island with — who else? — Dorothy Lamour, a princess with treasure troubles.

What did I like?

Put them together. Bing Crosby and Bob Hope were stellar performers on their own, but together these guys were comic gold. They also must have been a financial success too, or else the studio would not have made six of these films. Crosby has comedic acting chops and that velvety smooth baritone voice of his, while Hope was, and still is, a god of comedy, with a decent enough singing voice to carry a tune. Truthfully, his voice may not have been that bad, but compared to Crosby, well, that’s like taking some pee-wee football player and have him do the whole tryout process with the college boys at NFL pro days.

Cameos. There are a number of cameos that should be noted, but none take away from the film’s proceedings. As a matter of fact, Humphrey Bogart’s cameo is nothing more than footage from The African Queen. Maybe someone should think about bringing back the gag cameo idea, that is if celebrities don’t think they need to be paid those exorbitant fees for maybe 10 seconds of screentime.

Self-aware. In one scene, a branch that Hope and Crosby are leaning on falls down into the river, at which point Bing says, “shouldn’t we be falling” and Hope follows it up by saying, “[sic] the studio can’t afford to let anything happen to us.” This is the mentality prevalent throughout most of the picture, all the way to the last scene before the credits roll.

What didn’t I like?

Volcano. In the 60s, it seems like anytime Americans were on the island, then they were automatically sacrifices for the volcano deity. This was made in 1952, so that wasn’t common, but I have to wonder, especially since it uses stock volcano footage, if this was one of the first to get the ball rolling with that device. Personally, I didn’t really see the need for the volcano god. It served no real purpose in moving the story forward.

Color. I’m not sure if it was the quality of Netflix streaming, my TV, or what have you, but the color seemed a bit off. It was like a new shirt that has been washed so much that the color is still intact, but when you see something the exact same color, you can tell it isn’t as brilliant as it once was. Now, the reason for this weird coloring could be something related to technology of the time, but I’m not sure.

Road to Bali is a film that Netflix has been trying to get me to watch everytime I log on. It is always one of the first things that pops up, so finally I caved in. Was it worth it, or should I have gone with another flick? Well, I enjoyed it, but I doubt that I will remember what it was about in t-minus 15 minutes. That is not to say that is wasn’t good, just nothing special. Truthfully, other than the cameos, there is nothing here that will catch your attention. As much as I would love to say you have to see this, I think it is better if you just skip it.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars


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