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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Road To Rio/Road To Bali (Bob Hope/Bing Crosby Double Feature HD-DVD/BCI Eclipse)

Road To Rio/Road To Bali (Bob Hope/Bing Crosby Double Feature HD-DVD/BCI Eclipse)


Picture: C+/B-     Sound: C     Extras: C-     Films: B-



Recently, the little-discussed Bing Crosby/Bob Hope Road film were revived as pop culture reference when Stewie and Brian Griffin on the animated TV hit Family Guy took a trip in an episode called The Road To Rhode Island.  It was a hoot and remains one of the most talked about shows, but it also saved the politically incorrect hit films from the beating they took when pathetic imitator Ishtar killed the memory and fun of the originals by association.  The original films also fell out of fashion and their rights caused them to fade away.


Originally issued by Paramount picture, the estates of the stars apparently landed up with the rights to the films and now, BCI Eclipse has issued two of the better films in the series with Road To Rio (1947) and Road To Bali (1951) as they land up getting into trouble as they head for the title destinations, usually (as is the case in both films here) with Dorothy Lamour.  Each song has them touring like an old vaudeville act singing a duet, then getting on with the story.  There are occasional, additional music numbers, but that does not make them Musicals.  I can also say that though they do not get credit for this, they likely inspired the cycle of usually bad “Elvis Musicals” Elvis Presley did for many years before his late 1960s comeback.


I think I liked Bali just a bit more than Rio since it offered more kitsch and they seemed to be having a little more fun.  It is also fair to say these are minor classics of film comedy as their partnership as comics is different from the permanently associated teams of the past like Laurel & Hardy or Abbott & Costello.  Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis echo this by making a cameo in Bali.  Now in high definition, this double feature on a single HD-DVD is a way to catch two films worth a look.  You can even go back to Family Guy afterwards and get more jokes.


The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image on Rio is only the second-ever block style black and white film (after Warner issued Casablanca in both formats) to appear in HD and though the print has a header that says it is from the UCLA Archive, the print has dirt and is not in pristine condition, though it has some good moments of detail here and there.  Otherwise, it just does not quite benefit fully from the 1080p.  Bali is also in 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition and is not only the only full color Road film, but was issued in three-strip Dye-transfer Technicolor and this print shows that.


No, the print is not perfect and detail can be an issue, but few films have been issued in either HD format that was processed that way, so it is an interesting example.  The ones that have all come from Warner Bros. and in both HD formats.  Skipping newer such films (Enter The Dragon and The Omega Man, reviewed elsewhere on this site) from the original Technicolor era, that leaves us with (also reviewed on this site) The Adventures Of Robin Hood and The Searchers.  The former was actually processed in a new digital format that aligns the three separate black and white strips more seamlessly, but is not an actual dye-transfer print, though the HD-DVD looks good and joins Bali as only one of two 1.33 X 1 Technicolor films on HD to date.  The latter looks great because it was originated in large-frame VistaVision, but the accuracy of its color has been questioned and it is not entirely from a dye-transfer print either.


Bali apparently is, with a few scenes where the three strips are fringing because they did not line up well and color is pretty consistent without bleeding or fading.  Some may even jump to the conclusion that the transfer and/or print is oversaturated in color, but I would disagree.  Color might not always be perfect, but this is pretty much what such a print might look like and though the detail can be an issue as it is squeezed on this HD-DVD with another full-length film and at this low price, it is amazing it looks as good as it does.


This is the third double feature from BCI (in either HD format) where the second feature looks a bit better than the first, though I think it is a print issue this time and not just the format.


The only extra is five alternate language version of the end of Bali with no audio.  It is amusing, though there had to be trailers for the films somewhere and any are public domain.  Maybe next time.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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