Road to Morocco (1942)

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Released 3-Dec-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Animation & Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Notes-Production Notes - Part 3
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1942
Running Time 78:20
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By David Butler
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Bing Crosby
Bob Hope
Dorothy Lamour
Anthony Quinn
Case ?
RPI Box Music James Van Heusen


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, Bing in particular.
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Road to Morocco is the third (of seven) in the popular "Road" series of films produced between 1940 and 1962. They starred Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, with a sultry Dorothy Lamour as the main love interest. This particular DVD comes in a boxed set with Road to Singapore, Road to Zanzibar and Road to Utopia (which are the 1st, 2nd and 4th films in the series).

    This "Road" film is possibly the most popular of the seven (closely followed by Road to Utopia). By this time Bob and Bing had developed an easygoing chemistry on screen, and the film is also very funny. It has a couple of excellent songs (the title track and also Moonlight Becomes You), the latter becoming a number one hit for Bing Crosby. The film also did very well at the box office.

    I have been a fan of these movies for many years, but had not seen one for some time. I was glad to find that I enjoyed this viewing very much. My family had never seen one, and they thoroughly enjoyed it as well. So what is the story all about? Well, in some ways this is a bit like asking what the plot of a Monty Python film is all about. The story is just the backdrop for the generally nonsensical goings-on that are going on. In this film the two stars find themselves shipwrecked in a Hollywood version of the Middle-East; full of fair princesses, magic rings, bandits and talking camels (yes, talking camels).

    As in most of the films, Bing spends most of his time trying to find a way to steal Dorothy from Bob. They are all trying to stay out of the clutches of the villainous sheik played by Anthony Quinn. Along the way there are some very funny moments involving assorted camels, an errant fly, and Bob's attempt to win an Oscar. The kids in my home audience cracked up when a camel made Bing Crosby jump, and Bob told him not to worry - "it's only a kangaroo!". Even some of the lyrics in the title song are classic: "Where we're going, why we're going, how can we be sure? I'll lay you eight to five that we meet Dorothy Lamour". As it goes on to say "just like Webster's Dictionary we're Morocco bound", and a fine trip it is too.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    I was a little nervous when I saw that these films were coming to DVD. What would the picture be like? Many films from this era are slapped onto DVD from what look like bad VHS tapes. This time the studio has done the right thing, and they are to be commended; this one has had a picture restoration, and very nice it looks too (for its age).

    The film is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is not 16x9 enhanced. This aspect ratio is very close to the original release aspect ratio of 1.37:1 used almost universally at the time, and is thus Full Frame.

    The picture is reasonably sharp with nice shadow detail (see 35:53 for a nice evening shot). An example of the fine detail can be found in the close-up at 14:00. There is some grain apparent in the picture at times (see 57:03), but it is generally insignificant.

    The film is in Black & White, and shows an excellent range of tones across the scale from the black to the white. In fact, at times it looks as good as a more modern Black & White presentation (such as Schindler's List), though it is more dated in its general appearance.

    The print exhibits only very minor damage. There is some noticeable telecine wobble during the opening credits, which does not recur. Minimal positive artefacts crop up now and again (see 42:22 for one, but don't blink or you'll miss it). At 57:16 there is some minor shimmering in the sand (perhaps it is a mirage?, there are some elsewhere in this film). On the whole, the picture has been nicely restored - check out the damage evident in the Trailer for an example of how bad this film looked the last time I saw it.

    There are no subtitles.

    There was no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is not as good as the video restoration, but it is still acceptable overall.

    There is only one audio track, a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono presentation in English.

    Dialogue was generally clear, though it seemed to vary in volume at times (around 24:00 as one example). The audio sync is also fine (except for the talking camels - I think they were dubbed).

    There is some fine music in this film, and it sounds good on the DVD. Bing Crosby was one of the most popular stars in the music world during the 1940s and 1950s, and he sounds in good voice here. The music score by James Van Heusen also backs up the action, romance, and comedy nicely.

    The surround presence is limited to a nice spread across the front of the sound stage, with the music in particular being well presented. I tried the sound in Pro Logic mode and it compressed the sound into an area towards the middle of the screen, so I don't recommend this option.

    The subwoofer had the evening off.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    We are given a small selection of Extras, unfortunately fewer than those who purchase this DVD in Region 1 (see the R4 vs R1 comparison below for details). The DVD also comes with a postcard which has a film lobby card on one side and the scene selections listed on the other.

Menu

    The menu is animated and allows you to play the film, select the scene (from 20 choices) or see the Extras.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and shows a lot of damage, with examples of most artefacts known to man (or woman). It runs for 2:10 and gives away the joke in the "Monkey's Uncle" scene.

Photo Gallery

    The gallery presents 45 photos including publicity stills, theatrical posters and in-film moments. The pictures are nice and sharp and it is apparent that some care has been taken to select good quality shots. Well done.

Production Notes Part 3

    Four pages of informative text about the film.

Cast and Crew

    Short (1-2 pages for each) notes on 4 of the cast and crew (including Dorothy Lamour and Anthony Quinn).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    It seems to be less common nowadays to find a DVD where the Region 4 version is missing features found on the Region 1 version. Unfortunately, this is one more example. The Region 4 version misses out on:

    As the picture is non 16x9 enhanced and Black & White it is likely that the PAL version is only slightly better than the NTSC, so that the overall preference is the Region 1 (marginally).

Summary

    This film is great. The stars are two of the most popular performers from last century, both on and off the screen, and you have the chance here to catch them in their prime; don't miss it.

    The picture has been well restored. Plaudits to the studio for going to the effort, let's see more studios following the example.

    The sound is acceptable.

    The Extras are not great, but at least there are a few, which is not common on films of this age.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Robert Davison (read my bio)
Sunday, December 21, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-K350, using Component output
DisplaySONY VPL-HS10 LCD projector, ABI 280cm 16x9 screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderKenwood. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationKenwood
SpeakersKenwood

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