Film Review – THE ROAD TO HONG KONG (1962)

THE ROAD TO HONG KONG (1962, UK, 91m, U) ***
Comedy, Musical
dist. United Artists; pr co. Melnor Films; d. Norman Panama; w. Melvin Frank, Norman Panama; pr. Melvin Frank; ph. Jack Hildyard (B&W | 1.66:1); m. Robert Farnon; m/l. James Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn; ed. Alan Osbiston, John C. Smith, John Victor Smith; pd. Roger K. Furse; ad. Syd Cain, William Hutchinson.
cast: Bing Crosby (Harry Turner), Bob Hope (Chester Babcock), Joan Collins (Diane), Robert Morley (Leader of the 3rd Echelon), Walter Gotell (Dr. Zorbb), Felix Aylmer (Grand Lama), Alan Gifford (American Official), Michel Mok (Undetermined Role), Katya Douglas (3rd Echelon Receptionist), Roger Delgado (Jhinnah), Robert Ayres (American Official), Mei Ling (Ming Toy), Jacqueline Jones (Blonde at Airport), Yvonne Shima (Poon Soon), Dorothy Lamour (Dorothy Lamour).
Belated seventh and final film in the Hope/Crosby “Road to” series sees the pair trying hard to recreate the magic as con men who get embroiled in international intrigue. When Hope accidentally memorises and destroys the only copy of a secret Russian formula for new and improved rocket fuel, the duo tries to stay alive while keeping the formula out of enemy hands. The direction and editing are flabby and the routines seem a little dated in their 1960s setting. There are the usual in-jokes and Hope delivers slick one-liners, whilst Bing also gets in a couple of songs. Collins makes a game sparring partner and Lamour turns up late in the proceedings. Peter Sellers, Dean Martin, David Niven and Frank Sinatra are among the stars making unbilled cameo appearances.

Film Review – BLACK SUNDAY (1977)

BLACK SUNDAY (1977, USA) ***½
Adventure, Crime, Drama, Thriller
dist. Paramount Pictures (USA), Cinema International Corporation (CIC) (UK); pr co. Paramount Pictures / Robert Evans Company; d. John Frankenheimer; w. Ernest Lehman, Kenneth Ross, Ivan Moffat (based on the novel by Thomas Harris); pr. Robert Evans; ph. John A. Alonzo (Movielab. 35mm. Panavision (anamorphic). 2.39:1); m. John Williams; ed. Tom Rolf; ad. Walter H. Tyler; rel. 22 March 1977 (USA), 12 August 1977 (UK); cert: 15; r/t. 143m.
cast: Robert Shaw (Kabakov), Bruce Dern (Lander), Marthe Keller (Dahlia), Fritz Weaver (Sam Corley), Steven Keats (Robert Moshevsky), Bekim Fehmiu (Mohammed Fasil), Michael V. Gazzo (Muzi), William Daniels (Pugh), Walter Gotell (Colonel Riat), Victor Campos (Nageeb), Joseph Robbie (Joseph Robbie), Robert J. Wussler (Robert Wussler), Pat Summerall (Pat Summerall), Tom Brookshier (Tom Brookshier), Walter Brooke (Fowler), James Jeter (Watchman), Clyde Kusatsu (Freighter Captain), Tom McFadden (Farley), Robert Patten (Vickers), Than Wyenn (Israeli Ambassador).
Intermittently tense but overlong thriller in which Palestinian terrorists look to transport and explode a bomb in a Goodyear blimp to the stadium staging the Superbowl. Frankenheimer allows the character motivations to come to the fore, which occasionally slows the pace in the deliberate build-up. This allows Shaw, Dern and Keller to flex their acting muscles, with Dern in particular memorable as US military veteran harshly treated by the government. Well-staged action sequences are sprinkled throughout but the climax stretches narrative logic by going for big set-pieces.