Road to Morocco (1942)

Road to Morocco (1942), directed by David Butler.

I've never found Hope and Crosby that funny and am not a particular fan of the series but once I start watching the appeal is undeniable. I can't help getting pulled into their unapologetic mid-20th century goofiness, especially those from the War years when people needed a laugh.

Self-referential and with vast amounts of comic mugging. The comedy of silliness doesn't always wear well but what was old becomes new again. It was a different world, standards of entertainment that would not be allowed today. Culturally insensitive? That is the culture.

Dorothy Lamour seems extra-gorgeous this time, and Anthony Quinn has his masculine menace down pat.

Like all golden age Hollywood fantasies set in exotic locales, the settings are a mish-mash of anything and everything north of the Sahara and east of Suez.

Each Jack gets his Jill. I was unfamiliar with Dona Drake, the second female lead. She was three-quarters black, presented herself as Mexican, played both "ethnic" and non-ethnic roles, and lead an all-girl orchestra:

The complete series:

Costumes by Edith Head, putting a lot of sparkle wattage into the women's clothes.

Photographed by William C. Mellor -- Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), Compulsion (1959), Giant (1956), The Naked Spur (1953).

The score is by Victor Young, uncredited. Music and lyrics by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke.

This introduced "Moonlight Becomes You" which became a standard. Paramount must have the rights because it shows up in their films: we catch a bit from the nightclub chanteuse in the holodeck scene in Star Trek: First Contact (1996).

Available on Blu-ray from Kino. The commentary track is a fact-packed history of the series and everyone involved.

He says that Dorothy Lamour's start on the picture was delayed by two weeks because the government needed her to continue her phenomenally successful War Bond sales tour. She used her vacation time for this and paid her own expenses. During the whole war she sold $300 million worth and was known as the "Bond Bombshell".