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You’ll shriek at these sheiks

August 3, 2012
By Tom LaVille , Times-Republican

One of the most endearing and successful movie series of the 1940-60s was the "Road" pictures starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. Much of the dialogue is improvised by the pair, and legend has it they would hire writers to help them with their "ad libs" in certain scenes. Whatever the cause, the finished product is classic movie comedy.

The various road pictures spanned the globe, taking viewers to exotic locations: Singapore, Zanzibar, Morocco, Utopia, Rio, Bali, and finally, Hong Kong. Of course, in the 40-60s, studios merely used stock footage and back lot sets to create the various locations. The plot of all the pictures was basically the same: Crosby would have some harebrained plan, then he would convince Hope to attempt to fulfill the plan. In the meantime, they would fight over the affections of their premiere leading lady, Dorothy Lamour. Many times the film had a notable villain set on foiling the boys' plot and also stealing the girl. In THE ROAD TO MORACCO the role of the villain is aptly portrayed by Anthony Quinn and the heroine is the ever present Dorothy Lamour.

To pick one "ROAD" picture over another "ROAD" would be like picking your favorite child. They all have their unique charm and comic moments. THE ROAD TO MORACCO, the third in the six film series is a fine introduction to any of the other "ROAD" pictures. Many of these films are available on DVD from the Marshalltown Public Library.

Check out one of the classic movie comedies of the Golden Age of Comedy this weekend at the air conditioned Orpheum Theatre. Show times are 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Visit the theatre for tours, or call the Orpheum Theater Center movie hotline at 641-844-5907 or visit


Tom LaVille is a retired Marshalltown drama and literature teacher and is heavily involved in the Marshalltown Community Theatre. LaVille's Critic's Corner column appears Friday in the Times-Republican.



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