Sunday, April 05, 2009

The road to Dorchester

Bing Crosby and Bob Hope made a series of seven movies together between 1940 and 1962. They started with "Road to Singapore" and ended with "Road to Hong Kong." In 1977 they were planning another sequel entitled "Road to the Fountain of Youth" but Der Bingle died that year. An unannounced sequel seems to have been in the works and abandoned between 1966 and 1968, at least according to a handwritten script recently discovered in a dusty footlocker in a basement on Chickatawbut Street in Neponset.

Long time Dorchester resident Charles McMurphy was an acquaintance of Melvin Frank and Norman Panama, the writers behind Crosby & Hope's 1946 vehicle "Road to Utopia." Mr. McMurphy was a bricklayer by trade but he kept up a correspondence with the two screenwriters. His pen pals encouraged him to try his hand at their craft and the result was this neglected script for "Road to Dorchester." Mr. McMurphy obviously believed in that old writers' adage, "Write what you know."

In the proposed film, Crosby and Hope play two a Codman Square-based swells. Crosby spends his time at the Wonderland dog track while Hope is a hapless operative in Mayor Curley's political machine. Dorothy Lamour is an innocent seamstress in the Dainty Dot hosiery factory in the Leather District who is lured away from an honest life of toil by a chocolate factory owner played by an improbably cast Anthony Quinn. The plot is sketchy as befits a 'Road' movie and the dialogue is a bit leaden. Mr. McMurphy seems better employed laying bricks than cracking jokes. He obviously expected his stars to ad lib and put the polish on his script.

"Road to Dorchester," as any filmography will show, was never made. The pages of the script were locked in Mr. McMurphy's WWII foot locker and stowed in his basement until this year. The house is slated to be converted to condominiums and the new owner was cleaning out the debris that had gathered in odd nooks for the past hundred years. Tucked in with the manuscript is a note from Bob Hope himself. It reads: "Hey Charlie! Mel and Norm showed me your treatment and I think it's just swell. If you can get Bing's character to play the ponies rather than the puppies, I think we make a go of this." Mr. McMurphy seems to have taken this advice to heart since the script has several passages where Wonderland is crossed out with blue pencil and Suffolk Downs is written in over it. Why this film was never shot is unknown.

The property's new owner has hired an agent to shop the prospect around Hollywood. Should it fail to make it to the big screen with George Clooney and Brad Pitt, expect this historical curiosity to be auctioned by Christie's.

The film Mr. McMurphy's friends wrote....

To see them all the Crosby & Hope ouevre...

Where our humble narrator will probably end up...

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