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Movie Flashback: ‘The Road to Singapore’ Opened in Theaters on This Day in 1940

This Was the First of the Seven 'Road To...' Films with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby

“The Road to Singapore”, the first of the seven Bob Hope and Bing Crosby “Road To…” films, opened in theaters on this day in 1940. Based on a story by Harry Hervey, the movie is about two playboys trying to forget previous romances in the Colony of Singapore, where they meet a beautiful woman (Dorothy Lamour).

The logline from Wipekedia: Josh Mallon (Bing Crosby) and Ace Lannigan (Bob Hope) are best friends and work aboard the same ship. As their ship returns to the US after a long voyage, they see all the other sailors being mistreated by their wives and girlfriends, and the two friends pledge never to get involved with women again. Unfortunately, this vow is tested almost immediately. First, Ace is confronted by the family of a former lover, Cherry, who insist he marry her. Then Josh, who is the son of rich shipping magnate (Charles Coburn), has to fend off his fiancée, Gloria (Judith Barrett), and his father’s wishes that he settle down and take over the family business. Things get worse when Josh and Ace get caught up fishing and turn up late for a party to celebrate Josh’s engagement. Gloria’s hostile drunken brother starts a fistfight and a news reporter takes photographs that cause a scandal. Josh and Ace flee to Hawaii and then head for Singapour.

However, the pair only get as far as the island of Kaigoon before their money runs out. They rescue Mima (Dorothy Lamour), a local (but not native) woman, from her abusive dance-partner, Caesar (Anthony Quinn), and she moves into their hut. Soon Mima is running the two men’s lives, much to their chagrin. The trio try to make money in several different ways, including trying to sell a spot remover that is so bad it dissolves clothes.

When Josh’s father finally locates his wayward son, he and Gloria fly out to bring Josh back to face his responsibilities. The resentful Caesar leads them to where Ace, Josh and Mima are enjoying a local feast. By this point, both Josh and Ace have fallen in love with Mima. She is heartbroken to learn that Gloria is Josh’s fiancée.

Ace proposes to Mima, but before she can accept, Josh returns. The two friends almost come to blows over Mima, but then decide that she should choose between them. Mima picks Ace. Josh boards an ocean liner with Gloria and his father.

Meanwhile, Caesar informs the local police that Ace is on the island illegally. Ace is arrested when he cannot produce a passport, but manages to escape. He and Mima flee aboard a ship, but Ace comes to realize that Mima really loves Josh.

When Josh’s ship docks at a tropical port, a passenger complains about a terrible spot remover that disintegrated his suit jacket. Josh realizes that Ace and Mima must be on the island. When he finds them, Ace tells his best friend that Mima really loves him.