Road to Morocco Reviews
The success of a Buddy film comes from the talent of its two main characters. In this case, Orville "Turkey" Jackson (Bob Hope) is the lovably dim partner to Jeff Peters (Bing Crosby), the snarky singer and brains of the operation. Those who might be looking for a pure slapstick comedy are bound to be slightly disappointed, because the gold of this film is in its repartee. Verbal jabs, wordplay, and double entendre abound in this film, but pay attention because they come fast and frequent. For its time, it was also quite raunchy, albeit not nearly as much as some of the "gross-out" comedies of today are. In fact, its special effects were quite ahead of its time as well (some of them quite fun to watch, especially the "voice swap" version of Moonlight Becomes You).
Having already seen Bing Crosby in a number of great films, including Holiday Inn (1942) and Going My Way (1944), the latter of which won Best Picture and garnered Crosby a Best Actor Oscar, I already knew his propensity for great dramatic acting. In Road to Morocco, I was pleasantly surprised to see his comedy is on-point as well. Of course, that being said, the man in his comedy element was definitely Bob Hope. His facial expressions and reactions were fantastically hilarious and most scenes he appeared in were filled with him chewing the scenery. I may have to watch more of his films (including the others in the "Road to . . ." series), because this one was certainly great.
Occasionally "self aware", but filled with plenty of verbal and situational comedy, I give Road to Morocco 4.5 stars out of 5.
Let me get the serious stuff out of the way. Morocco is portrayed as radically other. All of the attractive characters are white actors playing "brown-face," and all of the unsavory characters have accents and are excessively tribal and violent. This portrayal continues the traditions that Edward Said writes about in Orientalism in which he claims that films like this contribute to a racist cultural attitude vis-a-vis the "East."
That said, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope were hilarious, and in spite of the film's problems from an academic standpoint, the film is nevertheless marvelously entertaining. Of all the Golden Age singing stars, I think Crosby is my favorite. His voice is so free and easy; it looks like anyone could sing like him, but of course no one can.
The self-referential jokes are great, and Crosby and Hope have an excellent chemistry.
Overall, the film gets a one-star penalty for racism, but it's still remarkably entertaining.