'The Road to Morocco' is pretty unusual in that it's the third of a franchise, yet superior to the first two, a trick rare and difficult to pull off. By now the two stars have firmly established their screen presence and status as born entertainers and the film seeks to push them to even funnier levels.Bob Hope is Orville and Bing Crosby is Jeff, two stowaways who end up shipwrecked and broke in, well, Morocco, where do you think? Dorothy Lamour then makes her customary appearance as the princess who seduces them both, whilst fighting off the angry attentions of Anthony Quinn, as an Arab chief keen to make Orville and Jeff feel the point of his sword.
'The Road to Morocco' doesn't make the mistake that the previous road film (Road to Zanzibar) did, and portray the foreign population in a potentially offensive and insulting manner. Whereas 'Road to Zanzibar' quite happily showed the natives as savages or slaves, there's no such awkward portrayals here. Instead, it plays up the natural and easy chemistry between Hope and Crosby and gives them the best script yet to chew over.
The banter between them is fast-paced and frequently hilarious, with only the romantic interludes dragging the film down. Lamour gets more to do here than ever before but unfortunately (and it's no fault of hers, she's a highly gifted comic actress), the stuff she does get to do happens to be the dull bits. One film cliche that we should be thankful for dying out is the habit of ballads sung very boringly to the female character, who can only look on and simper.
Thankfully though, the majority of the film is focused on Hope and Crosby riffing with each other and they're at their top of the game here, armed with a script that takes the comedy into ever stranger and self-referential angles. So Hope sprays insults at the Republicans, he and Crosby sing a song referencing Lamour by name and their contract at Paramount, camels talk, while Hope even gets a dig in at the Academy Awards at the very end. It could have been a barrage of smug injokes, but instead they're sharp, bright and breezy. And there's also possibly the best accidental joke ever as an irate camel takes offence at Bob Hopes face. It's worth it just for Bing Crosby's reaction.'The Road To' series was just getting better and better at this stage and while it certainly ran out of steam by its painful end, there was still the high of Utopia to come. Before then however, a trip to Morocco will do very nicely indeed.