Road to Singapore


1h 24m 1940
Road to Singapore

Brief Synopsis

A runaway tycoon and his sailor buddy try to con their way through the South Seas.

Film Details

Also Known As
Follow the Sun
Genre
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
Mar 22, 1940
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 14 Mar 1940
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 24m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Synopsis

Josh Mallon, the scion of a straightlaced shipping magnate, and his free-spirited pal, Ace Lannigan, ridicule the institution of marriage. Josh's wishes are overruled, however, when his father, disgusted with his son's irresponsible antics, commits Josh to an office job and a marriage to socialite Gloria Wycott. The wedding is postponed, though when, on the eve of Josh and Gloria's engagement gala, Ace and Josh skip town after a brawl with Josh's future brother-in-law, Gordon. Although bound for Singapore, the pair land in Kaigoon, poor yet happy, and resolve to remain bachelors forever. Their resolution is short lived when they meet Mima, a dancer in a local dive, a meeting which ends in a fight with Mima's jealous dancing partner, Caesar. That night, Mima leaves Caeser to move in with Josh and Ace, and promptly begins to domesticate the boys, who both fall in love with her, although neither will admit it. Meanwhile, Timothy Willow, the Mallon representative in Kaigoon, wires Mr. Mallon that his missing son is in town, and while Mima falls in love with Josh, his father and fiancé fly down to Kaigoon to retrieve him. Josh resists Gloria's pleas to return until Mima, in an act of self sacrifice, sends him home by accepting Ace's marriage proposal. After Josh departs, Ace and Mima are forced to flee the authorities, and Ace realizes that Mima loves Josh. The lovers are reunited when Josh's ship docks on the way home and, recognizing from a distance one of Ace's get rich schemes, he knows that Mima must be there, too and rushes ashore to be with her.

Film Details

Also Known As
Follow the Sun
Genre
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
Mar 22, 1940
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 14 Mar 1940
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 24m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Articles

Road to Singapore (1940) - Road to Singapore


From the effortless look of them, you'd think that the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby "road pictures" were destined to work like a charm from day-one. But Road to Singapore (1940), the first installment in the series, clearly shows that it wasn't that easy. Though several of the components that audiences came to know and love are there, including Dorothy Lamour as the romantic interest, and the apparently free-form repartee between the sarcastic leads, something is a bit off about the timing. The fact is, Hope and Crosby (and, almost incidentally, their director, Victor Schertzinger) had no idea where they were heading with the dialogue, but blindly trusted their instincts - and their personal joke writers - to invent something worthwhile. Just how worthwhile (i.e. profitable) these movies would finally become took everyone involved by complete surprise.

There's a plot to Road to Singapore, in the sense that it features a lot of things for Bob and Bing to mock. Even so, it's far more traditional than the rest of the films in the series. Crosby plays Josh, the son of a wealthy shipping magnate (Charles Coburn). A carefree sort, Josh wants nothing to do with his father's business, and basically avoids anything else that requires him to act like a grown-up. He even skips out on his bride-to-be (Judith Barrett) the day before their wedding, and takes off with his good buddy, Ace (Hope), to exotic Singapore. There, Josh and Ace launch an ineffective money-making scam involving an equally ineffective spot remover.

Eventually, both of the boys fall for a beautiful dancer named Mima (Lamour), who runs away with them to escape her violently jealous dancing partner (Anthony Quinn). Mima admits to being in love with either Josh or Ace, although, for much of the movie, she's strategically unclear about the particulars. Throw in a few songs, including one non-legendary ditty entitled "Captain Custard," and everything gets padded out to feature length. Audiences at the time didn't care about the skimpy material, though. The movie was a runaway smash, and Paramount quickly set about duplicating, and perfecting, its newfound formula.

Road to Singapore took such a winding route to the big screen, no one is really sure how it came into being. The most believable story is that a Harry Hervey adventure script called The Road to Mandalay was re-tooled by Paramount into a comedy vehicle for George Burns and Gracie Allen, who promptly turned it down. Then Fred MacMurray and Jack Okie supposedly rejected it, although, in later years, neither one of them could recall that ever happening. Then the title location was changed to the more exotic-sounding Singapore, and the script was given to Hope and Crosby. But that leaves out the very important detail of exactly who decided to team them up in the first place.

In the long run, it doesn't matter. You can bet that executives all over the Paramount lot were proclaiming their own genius when Road to Singapore became the highest grossing movie of 1940.

Hope and Crosby's disregard for the film's original shooting script is the stuff of Hollywood legend. Lamour later wrote in her autobiography that her first day on the set convinced her that there was simply no point in memorizing her dialogue- Bob and Bing would say whatever popped into their heads, or deliver gags that their writers had thought up the night before. "What I really needed," she said, "was a good night's sleep to be ready for the next morning's ad-libs. This method provided some very interesting results on screen. In fact, I used to ask to see the finished rushes to see what the movie was all about."

She wasn't kidding. One day on the set, Hope actually yelled to screenwriter Frank Butler, "Hey Frank! If you hear anything that sounds like one of your lines, just yell 'Bingo!'" Butler reportedly was not amused, although Schertzinger enjoyed his directing duties, which more or less consisted of shouting "Stop!" and "Go!"

It's interesting to note that Hope and Crosby were not the loving off-screen buddies that press releases and carefully orchestrated public outings implied they were. Though both men knew a major cash-cow when they were riding one, and thus were able to maintain a façade of deep friendship, they were highly competitive egotists who never missed an opportunity to belittle each other. And it wasn't always in good fun.

During the Singapore shoot, Hope took special advantage of Crosby's self-consciousness about his balding head and somewhat flabby behind, which generated the endearing nicknames, "Skinhead" and "Mattress Hip." Hope would also get his writers to secretly come up with zingers that would cancel out Bing's supposedly off-the-cuff jibes during shooting. Crosby, for his part, repeatedly called Hope "Ski Snoot" and loved pointing out that he was by far the better dramatic actor of the two. And he ribbed Hope mercilessly when he won a 1944 Best Actor Oscar® for Going My Way. So much for a partnership made in heaven.

Producer: Harlan Thompson
Director: Victor Schertzinger
Screenplay: Don Hartman and Frank Butler
Editing: Paul Weatherwax
Cinematography: William C. Mellor
Music Director: Victor Young
Art Design: Hans Dreier and Robert Odell
Choreography: LeRoy Prinz
Principal Cast: Bing Crosby (Josh Mallon), Bob Hope (Ace Lannigan), Dorothy Lamour (Mima), Charles Coburn (Joshua Mallon IV), Judith Barrett (Gloria Wycott), Anthony Quinn (Caesar), Jerry Colonna (Achilles Bombanassa), Johnny Arthur (Timothy Willow), Pierre Watkin (Morgan Wycott), Gaylord "Steve" Pendleton (Gordon Wycott), Miles Mander (Sir Malcolm Drake), Pedro Regas (Zato), Greta Granstedt (Babe), Edward Gargan (Bill)
B&W-85m. Closed captioning.

by Paul Tatara
Road To Singapore (1940) - Road To Singapore

Road to Singapore (1940) - Road to Singapore

From the effortless look of them, you'd think that the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby "road pictures" were destined to work like a charm from day-one. But Road to Singapore (1940), the first installment in the series, clearly shows that it wasn't that easy. Though several of the components that audiences came to know and love are there, including Dorothy Lamour as the romantic interest, and the apparently free-form repartee between the sarcastic leads, something is a bit off about the timing. The fact is, Hope and Crosby (and, almost incidentally, their director, Victor Schertzinger) had no idea where they were heading with the dialogue, but blindly trusted their instincts - and their personal joke writers - to invent something worthwhile. Just how worthwhile (i.e. profitable) these movies would finally become took everyone involved by complete surprise. There's a plot to Road to Singapore, in the sense that it features a lot of things for Bob and Bing to mock. Even so, it's far more traditional than the rest of the films in the series. Crosby plays Josh, the son of a wealthy shipping magnate (Charles Coburn). A carefree sort, Josh wants nothing to do with his father's business, and basically avoids anything else that requires him to act like a grown-up. He even skips out on his bride-to-be (Judith Barrett) the day before their wedding, and takes off with his good buddy, Ace (Hope), to exotic Singapore. There, Josh and Ace launch an ineffective money-making scam involving an equally ineffective spot remover. Eventually, both of the boys fall for a beautiful dancer named Mima (Lamour), who runs away with them to escape her violently jealous dancing partner (Anthony Quinn). Mima admits to being in love with either Josh or Ace, although, for much of the movie, she's strategically unclear about the particulars. Throw in a few songs, including one non-legendary ditty entitled "Captain Custard," and everything gets padded out to feature length. Audiences at the time didn't care about the skimpy material, though. The movie was a runaway smash, and Paramount quickly set about duplicating, and perfecting, its newfound formula. Road to Singapore took such a winding route to the big screen, no one is really sure how it came into being. The most believable story is that a Harry Hervey adventure script called The Road to Mandalay was re-tooled by Paramount into a comedy vehicle for George Burns and Gracie Allen, who promptly turned it down. Then Fred MacMurray and Jack Okie supposedly rejected it, although, in later years, neither one of them could recall that ever happening. Then the title location was changed to the more exotic-sounding Singapore, and the script was given to Hope and Crosby. But that leaves out the very important detail of exactly who decided to team them up in the first place. In the long run, it doesn't matter. You can bet that executives all over the Paramount lot were proclaiming their own genius when Road to Singapore became the highest grossing movie of 1940. Hope and Crosby's disregard for the film's original shooting script is the stuff of Hollywood legend. Lamour later wrote in her autobiography that her first day on the set convinced her that there was simply no point in memorizing her dialogue- Bob and Bing would say whatever popped into their heads, or deliver gags that their writers had thought up the night before. "What I really needed," she said, "was a good night's sleep to be ready for the next morning's ad-libs. This method provided some very interesting results on screen. In fact, I used to ask to see the finished rushes to see what the movie was all about." She wasn't kidding. One day on the set, Hope actually yelled to screenwriter Frank Butler, "Hey Frank! If you hear anything that sounds like one of your lines, just yell 'Bingo!'" Butler reportedly was not amused, although Schertzinger enjoyed his directing duties, which more or less consisted of shouting "Stop!" and "Go!" It's interesting to note that Hope and Crosby were not the loving off-screen buddies that press releases and carefully orchestrated public outings implied they were. Though both men knew a major cash-cow when they were riding one, and thus were able to maintain a façade of deep friendship, they were highly competitive egotists who never missed an opportunity to belittle each other. And it wasn't always in good fun. During the Singapore shoot, Hope took special advantage of Crosby's self-consciousness about his balding head and somewhat flabby behind, which generated the endearing nicknames, "Skinhead" and "Mattress Hip." Hope would also get his writers to secretly come up with zingers that would cancel out Bing's supposedly off-the-cuff jibes during shooting. Crosby, for his part, repeatedly called Hope "Ski Snoot" and loved pointing out that he was by far the better dramatic actor of the two. And he ribbed Hope mercilessly when he won a 1944 Best Actor Oscar® for Going My Way. So much for a partnership made in heaven. Producer: Harlan Thompson Director: Victor Schertzinger Screenplay: Don Hartman and Frank Butler Editing: Paul Weatherwax Cinematography: William C. Mellor Music Director: Victor Young Art Design: Hans Dreier and Robert Odell Choreography: LeRoy Prinz Principal Cast: Bing Crosby (Josh Mallon), Bob Hope (Ace Lannigan), Dorothy Lamour (Mima), Charles Coburn (Joshua Mallon IV), Judith Barrett (Gloria Wycott), Anthony Quinn (Caesar), Jerry Colonna (Achilles Bombanassa), Johnny Arthur (Timothy Willow), Pierre Watkin (Morgan Wycott), Gaylord "Steve" Pendleton (Gordon Wycott), Miles Mander (Sir Malcolm Drake), Pedro Regas (Zato), Greta Granstedt (Babe), Edward Gargan (Bill) B&W-85m. Closed captioning. by Paul Tatara

On the Road with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby Collection


The Hope-Crosby "Road" films have entertained audiences for decades and will continue thanks to the DVD set On The Road With Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. This collects the first four of the seven films (apparently the remainder weren't included due to rights issues) in sterling quality at a list price of only $24.98, which will be even lower if you shop around. Even viewers unfamiliar with the series might be willing to take a chance on it at that price and it's unlikely any will feel disappointed. Fans will be glad to have top-quality presentations of these films though they may have a minor tinge of disappointment that the only extras are two decent but short documentaries about Hope and Crosby.

Road to Singapore (1940) was the first film in the series, though at the time it was considered just a one-shot effort and since Dorothy Lamour is billed above Bob Hope it's clear the studio didn't necessarily think of it featuring what we now consider the two leads. Based on a script that had been floating around for a few years, Singapore is in the lines of other films featuring adventurers conflicting over a woman like A Girl in Every Port and What Price Glory?. It sets the basic template for the series with Crosby and Hope as best friends, the former slightly more worldly, the latter definitely a bit more opportunistic and not entirely bright. Some problem puts them in an unusual setting where Lamour becomes the target of both their affections as they try to avoid other plot complications (in Singapore the family wants to put Crosby to work in their shipping business). Oddly enough this is very similar to the Abbott & Costello films that were coming out at the same time which also took occasional breaks for songs. Though Singapore--which isn't actually set in Singapore-- is a bit pokey and predictable, it was successful enough that the studio correctly saw potential in further Crosby and Hope pairings, leaving Lamour to go down to third-billing.

1941's Road to Zanzibar is much better and shows how the series earned its reputation. For one thing, it's actually funny. The gags fly much faster as the two leads engage in continual verbal sparring, broken by occasional near-slapstick. There's also the first occurance of the self-referential jokes that would become a familiar feature of the series; here it's a comment that characters in the story must have seen the first "Road" film. Topping this activity off are stronger songs by the noted team of Burke & Van Heusen. Zanzibar presents Hope and Crosby as two guys who have kicked around Africa trying to earn money for a trip back to the States. They decide to help a damsel in distress (Lamour) and her best friend (Una Merkel), unaware that the two women are running a con on them. True, it's a somewhat flimsy story but strong enough that it allows for more comic possibilities and makes Zanzibar one of the best in the series.

Road to Morocco (1942) is a tad more perfunctory (it still inexplicably grabbed an Oscar® nomination for Best Original Screenplay) though it generally still delivers the goods, including a clever opening song where Hope and Crosby discuss their relationships with the studio and full expectations of meeting Lamour at some point in the film. Again, they're drifters but now shipwrecked on the coast of a backlot Middle East complete with desert warriors (led by Anthony Quinn), an Arabian Nights palace and trading bazaars of the kind parodied in The Life of Brian. How Lamour fits into this will be left for you to discover. The entire film flies by very quickly and, hey, you get to see Bob Hope in drag.

A clever device in Road to Utopia (1946) has Robert Benchley come on-screen to tell us that he will try to help clear up confusion about the film's story (as if anybody ever cared about that!). He then appears periodically in the corner to offer comments like "This appears to be a scene they put in the picture after I saw it in the studio" or observations on the best vantage point to view dancing girls. The film opens with an aging Hope and Lamour as a married couple visited by an equally aged Crosby. Together they reminiscence about a turn-of-the-century hunt for a lost gold mine in Alaska (the title's Utopia). Again, a Best Original Screenplay nomination but here much more plausible considering the Benchley inserts, a stream of anti-illusionist gags (after Crosby loses a singing contest Hope remarks that he should have brought Sinatra), a nicely handled story with twists within twists and songs that actually work within that story. Utopia is a small gem and precisely what people think about when they remark on the nature of the "Road" films.

One part of the "Road" films that hasn't aged well is some of the attitudes on display. Hollywood films in exotic locations have usually had a heavy layer of colonialism if not outright racism. Admittedly, the "Road" films aren't quite that bad but they still have regrettable moments. In Singapore, there's the slightly misogynist view of Lamour's role as well as Hope and Crosby masquerading in quasi-blackface to steal from local natives. Admittedly the ridiculous feast dance is something of a camp classic. Zanzibar features an African tribe created from a string of cliches: ruled by superstitions, cannibals, gaudily painted and not very bright. Morocco treats us to the spectacle of Crosby and Hope pretending to be retarded, again so they can steal from local merchants. Sure there weren't any bad intentions but that doesn't make these moments any easier for modern viewers.

Still, On The Road With Bob Hope and Bing Crosby is a welcome treat. With similar high-quality, low-price sets devoted to Abbott & Costello, Ma & Pa Kettle, Frances the Talking Mule and Don Knotts we are seeing a small flood of fondly remembered B-comedy and can only hope it continues.

To order On the Road with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, go to TCM Shopping.

by Lang Thompson

On the Road with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby Collection

The Hope-Crosby "Road" films have entertained audiences for decades and will continue thanks to the DVD set On The Road With Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. This collects the first four of the seven films (apparently the remainder weren't included due to rights issues) in sterling quality at a list price of only $24.98, which will be even lower if you shop around. Even viewers unfamiliar with the series might be willing to take a chance on it at that price and it's unlikely any will feel disappointed. Fans will be glad to have top-quality presentations of these films though they may have a minor tinge of disappointment that the only extras are two decent but short documentaries about Hope and Crosby. Road to Singapore (1940) was the first film in the series, though at the time it was considered just a one-shot effort and since Dorothy Lamour is billed above Bob Hope it's clear the studio didn't necessarily think of it featuring what we now consider the two leads. Based on a script that had been floating around for a few years, Singapore is in the lines of other films featuring adventurers conflicting over a woman like A Girl in Every Port and What Price Glory?. It sets the basic template for the series with Crosby and Hope as best friends, the former slightly more worldly, the latter definitely a bit more opportunistic and not entirely bright. Some problem puts them in an unusual setting where Lamour becomes the target of both their affections as they try to avoid other plot complications (in Singapore the family wants to put Crosby to work in their shipping business). Oddly enough this is very similar to the Abbott & Costello films that were coming out at the same time which also took occasional breaks for songs. Though Singapore--which isn't actually set in Singapore-- is a bit pokey and predictable, it was successful enough that the studio correctly saw potential in further Crosby and Hope pairings, leaving Lamour to go down to third-billing. 1941's Road to Zanzibar is much better and shows how the series earned its reputation. For one thing, it's actually funny. The gags fly much faster as the two leads engage in continual verbal sparring, broken by occasional near-slapstick. There's also the first occurance of the self-referential jokes that would become a familiar feature of the series; here it's a comment that characters in the story must have seen the first "Road" film. Topping this activity off are stronger songs by the noted team of Burke & Van Heusen. Zanzibar presents Hope and Crosby as two guys who have kicked around Africa trying to earn money for a trip back to the States. They decide to help a damsel in distress (Lamour) and her best friend (Una Merkel), unaware that the two women are running a con on them. True, it's a somewhat flimsy story but strong enough that it allows for more comic possibilities and makes Zanzibar one of the best in the series. Road to Morocco (1942) is a tad more perfunctory (it still inexplicably grabbed an Oscar® nomination for Best Original Screenplay) though it generally still delivers the goods, including a clever opening song where Hope and Crosby discuss their relationships with the studio and full expectations of meeting Lamour at some point in the film. Again, they're drifters but now shipwrecked on the coast of a backlot Middle East complete with desert warriors (led by Anthony Quinn), an Arabian Nights palace and trading bazaars of the kind parodied in The Life of Brian. How Lamour fits into this will be left for you to discover. The entire film flies by very quickly and, hey, you get to see Bob Hope in drag. A clever device in Road to Utopia (1946) has Robert Benchley come on-screen to tell us that he will try to help clear up confusion about the film's story (as if anybody ever cared about that!). He then appears periodically in the corner to offer comments like "This appears to be a scene they put in the picture after I saw it in the studio" or observations on the best vantage point to view dancing girls. The film opens with an aging Hope and Lamour as a married couple visited by an equally aged Crosby. Together they reminiscence about a turn-of-the-century hunt for a lost gold mine in Alaska (the title's Utopia). Again, a Best Original Screenplay nomination but here much more plausible considering the Benchley inserts, a stream of anti-illusionist gags (after Crosby loses a singing contest Hope remarks that he should have brought Sinatra), a nicely handled story with twists within twists and songs that actually work within that story. Utopia is a small gem and precisely what people think about when they remark on the nature of the "Road" films. One part of the "Road" films that hasn't aged well is some of the attitudes on display. Hollywood films in exotic locations have usually had a heavy layer of colonialism if not outright racism. Admittedly, the "Road" films aren't quite that bad but they still have regrettable moments. In Singapore, there's the slightly misogynist view of Lamour's role as well as Hope and Crosby masquerading in quasi-blackface to steal from local natives. Admittedly the ridiculous feast dance is something of a camp classic. Zanzibar features an African tribe created from a string of cliches: ruled by superstitions, cannibals, gaudily painted and not very bright. Morocco treats us to the spectacle of Crosby and Hope pretending to be retarded, again so they can steal from local merchants. Sure there weren't any bad intentions but that doesn't make these moments any easier for modern viewers. Still, On The Road With Bob Hope and Bing Crosby is a welcome treat. With similar high-quality, low-price sets devoted to Abbott & Costello, Ma & Pa Kettle, Frances the Talking Mule and Don Knotts we are seeing a small flood of fondly remembered B-comedy and can only hope it continues. To order On the Road with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, go to TCM Shopping. by Lang Thompson

Quotes

You seem to think the world is just some sort of a three-ring circus, and all you've got to do is to run around and have fun.
- Joshua Mallon IV
I just want you to stand there and admire me for a while. I just got an idea that's gonna make us a fortune. I don't know how I do it.
- Ace Lannigan

Trivia

After Fred MacMurray and George Burns turned down the chance to make this film, producer Harlan Thompson offered it to Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, whom he'd seen clowning on the Paramount lot and who it seemed to him got along well.

Originally written as "Beach of Dreams" for George Burns and Gracie Allen. Later retitled "Road to Mandalay" for Fred MacMurray and 'Oakie, Jack' before receiving its final title and cast.

The soap suds used for Ace Lannigan's stain removing product Spot-O were special heavy duty suds created by the prop department to hold up under the hot lights.

During a lunch break, Hope threw a handful of the soap suds at Lamour and soon Crosby became involved as well. The fight ended when Lamour cornered Hope and Crosby and threw all she had at them. The director was not particularly pleased because it would take hours to repair their hair, makeup, and clothing.

Notes

The working title of this film was Follow the Sun. It was the first in the "Road to" films produced by Paramount starring Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour and Bing Crosby. The series was very successful at the box office and was characterized by a tongue-in-cheek, self-parodying style. All seven films in the series featured Hope, Crosby and Lamour, but Lamour was relegated to a minor role and Joan Collins took over the female lead in the last film, The Road to Hong Kong, which was produced in 1962 (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70; F6.4134). According to materials contained in the MPAA/PCA files at the AMPAS Library, Columbia protested that the title of this film was too similiar to their film Singapore, and a controversy erupted over the Ohio Censorship Board's demand that the studio make extensive cuts in the native dancing girl sequence.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1940

Released in United States on Video October 15, 1992

Released in United States 1940

Released in United States on Video October 15, 1992