HTF REVIEW: "The Road to Hong Kong" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Nov 19, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    [​IMG]

    The Road To Hong Kong




    Studio: MGM
    Year: 1962
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 92 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Widescreen (1.66:1)
    Subtitles: English and Spanish



    Last year I had the opportunity to review Universal's
    Bob Hope Collection that featured at least four
    of his "Road" films that he made with Bing Crosby and
    Dorothy Lamour. These films showcased Hope as a
    showbiz wizard by playing on his rapid-fire wisecracking
    techniques. Reviewing that set was an absolute
    pleasure for me as it made me a bona fide fan of these
    films.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Imagine my surprise when I found MGM was releasing
    The Road To Hong Kong, the very last of the
    "Road" films. With the release of this film in 1962,
    Bob Hope's film career came to an end. Hope was one
    of the biggest names in show business when television
    began to develop and that was the medium he chose to
    pursue.
    Ten years following their prior "Road" film (Road
    To Bali), the boys return as Con-men Chester Babcock
    (Hope) and Harry Turner (Crosby). While these two con
    men try to pawn off a do-it-yourself rocket kit, a
    freaky accident places Chester in the hospital with
    amnesia. When a whacky Indian neurologist (Peter
    Sellers)suggests an herbal cure, the boys are off
    to Tibet where they get involved in international
    intrigue. You see, Chester accidentally memorizes
    and destroys the only copy of a secret Russian
    formula for a new and improved rocket fuel. A
    sinister bad guy (Robert Morley) wants the
    formula back at any cost, and perhaps the only
    chance of survival for Chester and Harry is with
    the help of a female secret agent (Joan Collins).
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Road To Hong Kong never captures the magic
    of the original "Road" movies, partly due to the
    fact that Dorothy Lamour has been replaced by Joan
    Collins (although there is a cameo of Dorothy). The
    story gets a little slow in areas, but there are enough
    funny moments here to keep fans satisfied -- including
    an appearance by Peter Sellers that has to go down
    as one of his funniest moments on film. Be sure not
    to blink or you might miss the cameo by actor David
    Niven.
    How is the transfer?
    It's not often that I see films presented on DVD in
    a 1.66:1 ratio. This ratio leads to a sort of window
    box presentation which I was unable to replicate with
    the above screen shots.
    The transfer looks quite good here. Except for the
    most minor cases of blemish, the print looks almost
    brand new. There's really not much more that can
    be said for a picture that is clear and detailed
    throughout.
    The mono sound is more than adequate, coming across
    the front channels with nice clarity and with minimal
    background hiss.
    Special Features
    [​IMG]
    The only added feature here is the film's Original
    theatrical trailer.
    Final Thoughts
    [​IMG]
    It's always a pleasure to review a film like this --
    a light comedy featuring two of Hollywood's
    all-time greats. Anyone that already owns any of the
    Universal "Road" movies on DVD owes it to themselves
    to add Road To Hong Kong to the collection.
    Release Date: December 3, 2002
     
  2. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Do you mean Bing? Bob Hope made quite a few more films after this.
     
  3. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Here's an odd question (just to ponder, not looking for an answer):

    Why is this film in black and white?

    One understands why certain movies (like The Apartment and Dr. Strangelove) were done in black and white, at a time when almost everything was color. It was a specific aesthetic choice.

    But why this one? The movie studios made money selling these movies for a run on television, and television at the time wanted color.

    Wouldn't color have improved the quality of the film?
     
  4. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    I can't believe that no one has picked up something very significant from Ron's review...


    MGM has FINALLY released a 1.66:1 transfer with 16x9 encoding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    I think this may be the very first such transfer. Warner and MGM have been our hold-out studios persisting in releasing 1.66:1 transfers in 4x3 lbxed encoding. While this looks fine on 4x3 sets that don't have the squeeze, you're still loosing resolution compared to having the same transfer framed in a 16x9 area.

    Not to mention that when 1.66:1 4x3 lbxed transfers are "zoomed" on a 16x9 display the image is cropped...and sometimes problematically (heads or subtitles cut off). The mild-windowboxing visible with 16x9 encoding visible on *some* displays (won't be on most due to overscan) is hardly a sacrifice considering the preservation of picture information and resolution one has as a result (4x3 TVs with 16x9 sqeeze will also gain resolution...and STILL may see no windowboxing due to overscan on the tube).

    HTF videophiles have been PLEADING with these 2 studios to start encoding their 1.66:1 transfers in 16x9, and it looks like MGM may have finally listened!!!!!!
     
  5. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    This film was produced in B&W likely because the other Road movies were. (were they?)

    And bravo for MGM using 16x9 1.66:1.
     
  6. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Nope, Road to Bali was in color.

    Road to Bali was the last Paramount outing.

    This one was the first filmed outside US (which is probably the reason its in b&w).
     
  7. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Another interesting thing: these movies are musicals! We forget that Hope and Crosby were really musical stars, as much as comedy stars. There are lot of songs in these movies.
     
  8. Adam Tyner

    Adam Tyner Screenwriter

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  9. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    But Ron clearly states:

     
  10. Adam Tyner

    Adam Tyner Screenwriter

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  11. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Bummer.
    I was trusting the disc info at the top of the review but I fear you are correct... [​IMG]
    Yes...and the windowboxing he's refering to is probably that on his 16x9 TV the image is first windowboxed 4x3 with pillarbars taking up the unused width and *then* letterboxed inside the 4x3 area.
    Boohooo! Ron...how could you do this to me (sob sob)...lead me to such 16x9 bliss and then dash me upon the rocky shores of 4x3 lbxed reality [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Oh well, here's hoping that ONE DAY MGM will learn to properly master a 1.66:1 title...
     
  12. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Guys,
    If you read my review....
     
  13. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Sorry for the confusion Ron. What led me astray was that you would *also* have windowboxing had the title indeed been 16x9 enhanced (you just wouldn't have had *both* windoboxing *and* letterboxing).
    All is clear now. In any case...it's a bummer that MGM *still* hasn't figured out that more resolution = better [​IMG]
     
  14. Frederic_A

    Frederic_A Stunt Coordinator

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    [rant]My God, is this concept so hard to understand? What are these people in the movie business for, if they can't even grasp the fundamentals of their trade?[/rant]
    Sorry for the rant, but I just have to let off some steam. [​IMG] Honestly, it's a sad situation where it takes a knowledgeable minority to explain to an industry what their own trade is about. Even sadder that no one seems to listen.
    Don't mean to be sarcastic, but am I missing something? Are there towering obstacles in terms of the technology needed to transfer a 1.66:1 picture to 16x9 that our scientists haven't overcome yet? Would the R&D needed exceed even the financial capabilites of major Hollywood studios? [​IMG]
     
  15. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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  16. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    In Ron's Final Thoughts, he states,
     
  17. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Brain Fart [​IMG]
     

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