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The second Road movie from Paramount Pictures finds barnstorming con artists Chuck Reardon (Bing Crosby) and Hubert "Fearless" Frazier (Bob Hope) at liberty after their act goes haywire. (In these movies, Crosby generally lures the suckers into the tent, while Hope is always stuck getting shot out of the cannon.) A phony map to a diamond mine brings our boys into the middle of Africa, which means there's a good chance they'll end up sitting in a cauldron while natives perform a cannibal dance around them. These stereotypes would be offensive if the movie wasn't actively parodying the kind of jungle movie popular in 1941 (just as Road to Morocco would satirize the Arabian nights picture). Dorothy Lamour is along for the ride, of course, and her scene in a tight clinch with Hope established a tradition of steamy comic exchanges through the series (as she croons a love song to him, he checks to see if his wallet is still in his pocket). This is the first Road movie to actively wink at the audience; in one scene, Lamour mocks the way movies always have characters break out into song in the middle of nowhere with a full orchestra backing--which is exactly what happens next. The chatter between Crosby and Hope already feels improvised, and it should be noted that the secret of their chemistry is not a sentimental friendship but a cheerfully hostile rivalry between the two characters, a cheeky approach that must've delighted audiences used to the Andy Hardy niceness of most Hollywood movies of that era. Oh, and they do their patty-cake routine, too. --Robert Horton
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