Road to Morocco (1942): Third, Oscar-Nominated Picture in Popular Series, Satrring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby

Regarded by some critics as the best of the “Road” pictures, David Butler’s “Road to Morocco,” the third picture in Paramount’s 1940s series, holds up extremely well.

The chemistry between Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, the witty one-liners, and the comic setpieces give the film a contaigously joyous aura.

The story line? Having accidentally caused a merchant ship to blow up, stowaways Hope and Crosby are shipwrecked on the African coast.

Commandeering a stubborn camel (who talks back), they are off on the road to Morocco. With no money at all, they try various methods to scare up a meal. That is until Crosby shows up with the necessary money.

When Hope asks about the funds, Crosby informs his pal that he’s been sold into slavery. Hope is dragged off to parts unknown, and Crosby, burdened by guilt, goes searching for his buddy. He stumbles into a luxurious palace, where Hope is being treated well, even courted by the Moroccan Princess Shalmar (Dorothy Lamour), who wants to to marry him.

It turns out that she had been advised by astrologers that her first husband will suffer a violent death, and that her second marriage will be long and happy; she is engaged to desert sheik Mullay Kasim (Anthony Quinn). Predictably, Dorothy is attracted to Crosby, forgetting her pre-arranged marriage to the sheik.

On the wedding eve, the astrologers realize they’ve made a mistake, and that she is free to marry the man of her dreams.

Hope must console himself with a handmaiden (Dona Drake). Meanhwile, the sheik rides into town and kidnaps Dorothy. Freeing themselves, Hope and Crosby make their way through the desert wastes in search of Quinn’s camp.

After an amusing series of mirages, they sneak into camp and attempt to rescue Dorothy and Dona. Imprisoned by Quinn, they manage to escape. Using exploding cigars and hotfoots, they sabotage a peace conference between Quinn and a rival sheik (George Givot), prompting the talking camel to remark, “This is the screwiest picture I’ve ever been in.”

In the end, the romantic quartet escape to New York, but not before Crosby spoils Hope’s chances at getting an Academy Award by interrupting his “mad scene.”

The Burke-Van Heusen songs, including “Moonlight Becomes You,” are a major plus.

You can spot Yvonne De Carlo among the harem girls.

Oscar Nominations: 2

Original Screenplay: Frank Butler and Don Hartman
Sound Recording: Loren Ryder

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The Original Screenplay Oscar went to Michael Kanin and Ring Lardner Jr. for the comedy “Woman of the year,” starring Tracy and Hepburn.

Nathan Levinson won the Sound Recording award for James Cagney’s Oscar-winning vehicle, “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

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