The Road to Hong Kong (1962)

91 mins | Comedy | 27 June 1962

Director:

Norman Panama

Producer:

Melvin Frank

Cinematographer:

Jack Hildyard

Production Designer:

Roger Furse

Production Company:

Melnor Films
Full page view
HISTORY

In their article for the 24 Oct 1962 DV, filmmakers Norman Panama and Melvin Frank recounted the process of reuniting Bob Hope and Bing Crosby for their first “Road” film in nine years. Hope, who spent much of his time golfing, referred all inquiries to his agent, who responded through a team of attorneys. After it was determined that the project would not interfere with Hope’s television series, he accepted the offer. Bing Crosby, however, wanted guarantees that the shooting schedule not coincide with the salmon and steelhead trout fishing seasons, nor the annual Bing Crosby Golf Tournament. He ultimately agreed to the project, even though he would have to miss pheasant-hunting season. Upon learning that filming would take place in England, both actors demanded cottages near the studio, with adjacent golf courses and racetracks. Once production was underway, Hope and Crosby frequently ignored the screenplay and improvised much of their dialogue, encouraged by the laughter of visitors to the set. When Crosby invited Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra to make an unpaid guest appearance, Panama and Frank approved, knowing the singers would enhance the picture’s commercial appeal. An item in the 4 Aug 1961 DV stated that Hope and Crosby promised to make an unpaid appearance in Martin and Sinatra’s next film. The 25 Aug 1961 LAT reported that Hope and Crosby were ensconced at the family estate of the late Lord Joseph Duveen, at a cost of £1,600 per month. Bordering the property were two racetracks and three golf courses.
       A news item in the 7 Oct 1960 DV ... More Less

In their article for the 24 Oct 1962 DV, filmmakers Norman Panama and Melvin Frank recounted the process of reuniting Bob Hope and Bing Crosby for their first “Road” film in nine years. Hope, who spent much of his time golfing, referred all inquiries to his agent, who responded through a team of attorneys. After it was determined that the project would not interfere with Hope’s television series, he accepted the offer. Bing Crosby, however, wanted guarantees that the shooting schedule not coincide with the salmon and steelhead trout fishing seasons, nor the annual Bing Crosby Golf Tournament. He ultimately agreed to the project, even though he would have to miss pheasant-hunting season. Upon learning that filming would take place in England, both actors demanded cottages near the studio, with adjacent golf courses and racetracks. Once production was underway, Hope and Crosby frequently ignored the screenplay and improvised much of their dialogue, encouraged by the laughter of visitors to the set. When Crosby invited Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra to make an unpaid guest appearance, Panama and Frank approved, knowing the singers would enhance the picture’s commercial appeal. An item in the 4 Aug 1961 DV stated that Hope and Crosby promised to make an unpaid appearance in Martin and Sinatra’s next film. The 25 Aug 1961 LAT reported that Hope and Crosby were ensconced at the family estate of the late Lord Joseph Duveen, at a cost of £1,600 per month. Bordering the property were two racetracks and three golf courses.
       A news item in the 7 Oct 1960 DV noted that location filming was originally planned for Hong Kong, as well as England. Actress Dorothy Lamour, who co-starred in the other six “Road” pictures, was invited to make a brief guest appearance, while Gina Lollobrigida would play the female lead. The 19 Sep 1961 LAT reported that Lamour demanded and won a larger role in the film. On 3 Nov 1960, NYT stated that Sophia Loren was being considered as leading lady following Lollobrigida’s departure. A news brief in the 9 Nov 1960 DV hinted that actress Nancy Kwan would join the cast. She did not appear in the completed film. The 25 Apr 1961 LAT reported that three of Crosby’s sons, Dennis, Phillip, and Lindsay, were invited to make an appearance as the vocal trio, The Crosby Boys. The 21 Jun 1961 DV noted that the trip to England would likely prevent Bing Crosby from accepting a prominent role in the political drama, Advise & Consent (1962, see entry). One week later, the 28 Jun 1961 edition announced that casting was complete, with actress Joan Collins as the team’s co-star.
       Columnist Art Buchwald revealed in the 3 Aug 1961 LAT that “leftover footage” from The World of Suzie Wong (1961, see entry) would supply exterior shots of Hong Kong. Actor William Holden, who loaned his 16-mm home movies of the city to the production, was offered a guest appearance, according to the 21 Aug 1961 DV.
       The 3 Jun 1962 LAT noted that the film included routines inspired by comedians of the past. Among them was a scene involving an automatic feeding machine, reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936, see entry). The 26 Jul 1961 DV reported that Panama and Frank planned to make two English-language versions of the picture: one with American topical humor, another with British topical humor. For the third version, musical sequences were replaced with “dramatic ‘bridges’” to advance the plot, as foreign distributors often deleted songs when the lyrics did not easily translate.
       Principal photography began 31 Jul 1961, as stated in 4 Aug 1961 DV production charts. The 16 Aug 1961 issue noted that Dorothy Lamour was expected on set two days later. The 27 Sep 1961 DV reported that television host Ed Sullivan visited the production set, and planned to broadcast his videotaped conversation with Hope and Crosby on his weekly variety program. The completion of filming on 2 Nov 1961 was announced in the following day’s DV.
       Three months later, the 3 Jan 1962 DV reported a sneak preview in London, England, to be followed by several more in Los Angeles, CA. The picture was expected to open in England over the Easter weekend, as stated in the 21 Mar 1962 DV. The U.S. opening was scheduled for late the following month. According to the 9 May 1962 DV, Hope collaborated with comedian Stan Freberg on a series of television advertisements for the film. The 23 May 1962 DV announced that Hope would attend the U.S. premiere that evening at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco, CA. Proceeds benefitted the Crippled Children’s Auxiliary of San Mateo, CA. The 29 May 1962 NYT noted that it was the first picture to be released under United Artists’ (UA) “Premiere Showcase” policy, which enabled suburban and neighborhood theaters to debut major releases the same day as first-run venues.
       The Road to Hong Kong opened 27 Jun 1962 in New York City and Los Angeles to positive reviews. The 19 Jul 1962 DV reported $701,989 in combined receipts from both cities in the first three weeks.
       The 22 Jan 1962 NYT noted that the television documentary, Biography of a Movie about the making of The Road to Hong Kong, was scheduled to air 6 May 1962 on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) program, Du Pont Show of the Week (17 Sep 1961—30 Aug 1964). On 21 Jun 1962, LAT featured a letter from UA publicist Pete Emmett, inviting columnist Paul Coates to join him on a Road to Hong Kong “eating tour” of Los Angeles’ Chinatown district. Dishes included “Chicken Salad Bing Crosby,” “Shrimp Curry Bob Hope,” “Pepper Steak Joan Collins,” and “Pineapple Duck Dorothy Lamour.” The 28 Feb 1962 DV reported that Joan Collins recorded a song from the film, titled “Teamwork,” for release as a single on United Artists Records.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
7 Oct 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 Nov 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Jun 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
28 Jun 1961
p. 11.
Daily Variety
5 Jul 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
24 Jul 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
26 Jul 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
4 Aug 1961
p. 2, 7.
Daily Variety
7 Aug 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
16 Aug 1961
p. 6.
Daily Variety
21 Aug 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
20 Sep 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
25 Sep 1961
p. 8.
Daily Variety
27 Sep 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
11 Oct 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
3 Nov 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
3 Jan 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 Jan 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Feb 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
28 Feb 1962
p. 6.
Daily Variety
21 Mar 1962
p. 8.
Daily Variety
3 Apr 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
18 Apr 1962
pp. 8-9.
Daily Variety
26 Apr 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
9 May 1962
p. 12.
Daily Variety
21 May 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
23 May 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
2 Jul 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
6 Jul 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
19 Jul 1962
p. 1.
Daily Variety
24 Oct 1962
p. 129.
Los Angeles Times
25 Apr 1961
Section A, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
3 Aug 1961
Section A, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
25 Aug 1961
Section B, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
19 Sep 1961
Section C, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
3 Jun 1962
Section N, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
21 Jun 1962
Section A, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
21 Jun 1962
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
28 Jun 1962
Section C, p. 9.
New York Times
3 Nov 1960
p. 49.
New York Times
22 Jan 1962
p. 35.
New York Times
29 May 1962
p. 23.
New York Times
27 Jun 1962
p. 40.
New York Times
28 Jun 1962
p. 21.
Variety
4 Apr 1962.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Norman Panama-Melvin Frank Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
1st & 2nd asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Focus puller
Cam grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
1st asst ed
2nd asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Sketch artist
Scenic artist
Draughtsmen
Draughtsmen
Draughtsmen
Draughtsmen
COSTUMES
Ward mistress
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
Mus associate
Mus associate
SOUND
Sd
Boom op
Sd cam op
Music ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
DANCE
Choreog
Mus numbers staged by
MAKEUP
Wardrobe master
Makeup
Hairstyles
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Prod secy
Chinese adv
Casting
Prod buyer
Constr mgr
Prop chargehand
Chargehand elec
Main titles
ANIMATION
SOURCES
SONGS
"Teamwork," "Let's Not Be Sensible," "Its the Only Way to Travel," "We're on the Road to Hong Kong" and "Warmer than a Whisper," music by James Van Heusen, lyrics by Sammy Cahn.
DETAILS
Release Date:
27 June 1962
Premiere Information:
London opening: late April 1962
San Francisco premiere: 23 May 1962
New York and Los Angeles openings: 27 June 1962
Production Date:
31 July--2 November 19621
Copyright Claimant:
Melnor Films
Copyright Date:
23 May 1962
Copyright Number:
LP22380
Duration(in mins):
91
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Harry Turner and Chester Babcock are two vaudeville song-and-dance men touring the Far East. While hawking a phony do-it-yourself space kit in India, Chester is knocked unconscious and loses his memory. Harry takes him to a Tibetan Lamasery, where he is given a special herb that cures his amnesia and provides him with a photographic memory. At the airport, Chester meets Diane, a beautiful spy for the Third Echelon, an organization of mad scientists planning to conquer the universe. She mistakes him for a photographer assigned to copy a secret Russian formula for rocket fuel, and Chester is able to memorize the information merely by glancing at the equations. Later, the two men are captured by the organization and inadvertently become substitutes for a pair of apes on a moon reconnaissance flight when they try to escape. Upon their return the Third Echelon decides to sacrifice them to science but quarters the two men in a harem to make their final hours more pleasant. They evade their captors and flee through Hong Kong with Diane, who has come to realize that the organization's leader is a madman. An old friend, Dorothy Lamour, who is appearing at a local nightclub, helps the trio outwit their pursuers and alert the Hong Kong police. As the Third Echelon headquarters are raided, however, Harry, Chester, and Diane are trapped in a rocket that takes them to Plutonlum, a remote planet, where they are met by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, who have arrived in another spacecraft. Musical numbers : "Let's Not Be Sensible" (Harry), "Teamwork" and "It's the Only Way ... +


Harry Turner and Chester Babcock are two vaudeville song-and-dance men touring the Far East. While hawking a phony do-it-yourself space kit in India, Chester is knocked unconscious and loses his memory. Harry takes him to a Tibetan Lamasery, where he is given a special herb that cures his amnesia and provides him with a photographic memory. At the airport, Chester meets Diane, a beautiful spy for the Third Echelon, an organization of mad scientists planning to conquer the universe. She mistakes him for a photographer assigned to copy a secret Russian formula for rocket fuel, and Chester is able to memorize the information merely by glancing at the equations. Later, the two men are captured by the organization and inadvertently become substitutes for a pair of apes on a moon reconnaissance flight when they try to escape. Upon their return the Third Echelon decides to sacrifice them to science but quarters the two men in a harem to make their final hours more pleasant. They evade their captors and flee through Hong Kong with Diane, who has come to realize that the organization's leader is a madman. An old friend, Dorothy Lamour, who is appearing at a local nightclub, helps the trio outwit their pursuers and alert the Hong Kong police. As the Third Echelon headquarters are raided, however, Harry, Chester, and Diane are trapped in a rocket that takes them to Plutonlum, a remote planet, where they are met by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, who have arrived in another spacecraft. Musical numbers : "Let's Not Be Sensible" (Harry), "Teamwork" and "It's the Only Way To Travel" (Harry and Chester), "We're on the Road to Hong Kong" (Harry, Chester, and Diane), "Warmer Than a Whisper" (Dorothy Lamour). +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.