A few months before the release of James Bond in Dr. No in theaters around the world, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby ran into their own type of Spectre, here called “The 3rd Echelon,” in 1962’s The Road to Hong Kong.Buy KL Studio Classics’ The Road to Hong Kong Blu-ray
In The Road to Hong Kong, Bob Hope plays Chester Babcock while Bing Crosby plays Harry Turner, two men who are basically stealing from the locals in Calcutta by selling them an “interplanetary flight kit.” Chester gets hurt, leading to a bout of amnesia, perfectly attended to by Peter Sellers playing an Indian doctor. The men are told that the only cure is a lamasery in Tibet. The lamas cure Chester and Harry steals a bottle of their super-strength memory enhancer in the hopes of using it somewhere along the way to relieve people of their money.
In what turns out to be a surprisingly complex plot, Chester is accidentally given plans by The 3rd Echelon for a special Russian fuel that will allow interstellar space flight. He can only remember the plans when given the super secret super-strength memory enhancer. The 3rd Echelon includes Diane (Joan Collins – obviously meant to replace Dorothy Lamour as the love interest), Robert Morley as the leader of The 3rd Echelon, and Dr. Zorbb (Walter Gotell) as a 3rd Echelon scientist.
The 3rd Echelon sends Hope and Crosby off in a rocket to beat the Russians who are only using apes for their experiments. This leads to one of the great set pieces where Hope and Crosby are forcibly fed bananas and milk in space by an automatic feeding machine. We also learn that Chester’s photographic memory returns when moonlight shines on his face. This doesn’t actually matter, though, as the memory plot is about as forced as it gets.
Even with all this going on, Hope and Crosby are able to find time for one song with Dorothy Lamour and bring the Italians! – Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin – in for a final guest appearance. Is it as funny as earlier Road movies? No. But it is funny.
- Audio Commentary by Filmmaker/Historian Michael Schlesinger and Archivist/Historian Stan Taffel
- Theatrical Trailer
- Trailers for Road to Singapore, Zanzibar, Morocco, Utopia, and Caught in the Draft
The Road to Hong Kong is a great send-off for one of the brilliant comedy teams of the last century. Recommended.