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While THE ROAD TO HONG KONG ($20) was the last of the road movies, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby certainly hadnít lost any of their zany charm and great comic interplay, even if some of the filmís routines seem a bit frayed around the edges. In this outing, Bob and Bing portray ex-vaudevillians Chester Babcock and Harry Turner, who are scamming their way across Asia as petty con men. When their latest swindle goes bust, Chester is left with a case of amnesia and off to a lamasery in Tibet in search of a mystical cure.

After the monks restore Chesterís memory, the duo make off with another sacred herb, one that is supposed to imbue an individual with total recall. After ingesting the herb, Chester ends up memorizing a secret rocket fuel formula, which makes him a prized commodity for The Leader of the 3rd Echelon (Robert Morley), who is bent on using the formula in a bid to take over the world. Joan Collins takes over the "Dorothy Lamour" role as the beautiful gal our heroes fight over, although Lamour does show up for an amusing cameo. Look for Peter Sellers in an uncredited bit as an Indian doctor, which could be the filmís most inspired and hilarious moment.

MGM Home Entertainment has made THE ROAD TO HONG KONG in a 1.66:1 wide screen presentation that has NOT been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Again, I take exception to MGMís policy against issuing 1.66:1 films without the 16:9 enhancement, especially since consumers are purchasing wide screen displays in increasing numbers. While this black and white transfer looks terrific on a 4:3 monitor, blowing it up to accommodate a 16:9 big screen monitor softens the image and introduces unnecessary artifacts. The film element use for the transfer displays very few blemishes, which makes it appear a lot newer than a movie celebrating its fortieth anniversary. Blacks are very solid and white appear clean. Contrast is quite nice and the image displays a nice varied gray scale. Noticeable film grain is modest and never bothersome. Digital compression artifacts are very well concealed throughout the presentation.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack holds up very well for its age. Background hiss and surface noise is quite minimal and the track will take a fair amount of amplification without distortion. Dialogue is very crisp and clean, so one can appreciate all of the witty banter between Hope and Crosby, as well as some of the groaners that escape their lips. There are a few musical numbers in the film that sound fine, in spite of the reduced fidelity of these vintage recordings. A Spanish language track is also encoded onto the DVD, along with English, French and Spanish subtitles. The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer.

THE ROAD TO HONG KONG may not be the best of the road movies, but it still pretty darn funny. If you are a fan of these Bob Hope and Bing Crosby opuses, then youíll want to add THE ROAD TO HONG KONG to your DVD collection.



The Road to Hong Kong (1962)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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