Road to Singapore (1940)

2008 #61
Victor Schertzinger | 85 mins | VHS | U

Road to SingaporeBob Hope and Bing Crosby star as a pair of young(ish) playboy sailors who run away from responsibility and family expectations in this comedy that launched the perennially popular Road to… series, which would spawn six sequels over the next 22 years.

Rather than a “comedy”, Road to Singapore might best be described as a “variety film” — it offers a mix of comedy, excitement, romance and song, a selection of entertainment that is more often provided by a few hours of TV these days. While it’s predominately light-hearted, the overall air is still more serious than that of the one other Road to… film I’ve seen, Road to Morocco: the plot seems to have been the film’s starting point, rather than an afterthought to connect the appropriate set pieces, and a couple of fight scenes are not wholly comedic in their choreography.

Unfortunately, in spite of this, there’s nothing here that’s as memorable as in Morocco. Bob and Bing are a great double act, undoubtedly carrying the film, but while it starts well enough it loses it as it goes on — even at a brief 85 minutes, it begins to drag early in the second half. It’s also worth noting that much of it is incredibly dated now, peppered with things like blacked-up natives (and our heroes blacking up to fit in) and the “good little housewife” routine. This is more an observation than a criticism — it’s very much a film of its time.

It might also be worth noting that, while I found Singapore reasonably entertaining, the friend I was watching with — who has enjoyed several other entries in the series, but had yet to see this — found it lacking. The score, however, is solely my own.

3 out of 5

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