Published on June 27, 2016
Road to Bali is a 1952 American comedy film directed by Hal Walker and starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour. Released by Paramount Pictures on November 1, 1952, the film is the sixth of the seven Road to … movies. It was the only such movie filmed in color and was the first to feature surprise cameo appearances from other well-known stars of the day.
George and Harold, American song-and-dance men performing in Melbourne, Australia, leave in a hurry to avoid various marriage proposals. They end up in Darwin, where they take jobs as pearl divers for a prince. They are taken by boat to an idyllic island on the way to Bali, Indonesia. They vie for the favours of exotic (and half-Scottish) Princess Lala, a cousin of the Prince. A hazardous dive produces a chest of priceless jewels, which the Prince plans to claim as his own.
After escaping from the Prince and his henchmen, the three are shipwrecked and washed up on another island. Lala is now in love with both of the boys and can’t decide which to choose. However, once the natives find them, she learns that in their society, a woman may take multiple husbands, and declares she will marry them both. While the boys are prepared for the ceremony, both thinking the other man lost, plans are changed. She’s being unwillingly wed to the already much-married King, while the boys end up married to each other.
Displeased with the arrangement, a volcano god initiates a massive eruption. After fleeing, the three end up on yet another beach where Lala chooses George over Harold. An undaunted, Harold conjures up Jane Russell from a basket by playing a flute. Alas, she, too, rejects Harold, which means George walks off with both Lala and Jane. A lonesome Harold is left on the beach, demanding that the film shouldn’t finish and asking the audience to stick around to see what’s going to happen next.
Bing Crosby as George Cochran
Bob Hope as Harold Gridley
Dorothy Lamour as Princess Lala McTavish
Among the celebrities who made appearances in this film are bandleader Bob Crosby (Bing’s brother), Humphrey Bogart, by way of a clip from The African Queen, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, and Jane Russell as her character from the 1952 film Son of Paleface. The cameo by Martin and Lewis was part of a ‘comedy trade’ whereby they made an appearance in this movie while Hope and Crosby appeared in Martin and Lewis’s “Scared Stiff” the following year. Martin and Lewis also made films for Paramount at the time