The story goes that such stars as Fred MacMurray, Jack Oakie and Burns & Allen had turned down The Road to Singapore before the leading roles went to Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. More conventionally structured than future "Road" efforts, the film casts Crosby as Josh Mallon, the irresponsible son of shipping magnate Joshua Mallon IV (Charles Coburn). Though the elder Mallon wants his son to enter the family business and marry longtime fiancee Gloria Wycott (Judith Barrett), Josh would rather pal around with his carefree sailor buddy Ace Lannigan (Bob Hope). On the eve of his wedding, Josh escapes with Ace to Singapore, where the two of them cook up a get-rich-quick scheme involving a highly unreliable spot remover. The boys' friendship is strained when they both fall in love with cabaret dancer Mima (Dorothy Lamour), who is on the lam from her jealous partner Caesar (Anthony Quinn). Hiding out from the authorities, the three protagonists wind up in the midst of a native ceremony, where Ace and Mima rescue Josh from a hasty marriage to a local temptress. When Gloria shows up to drag Josh back to the altar, Mima nobly gives him up, pretending to be in love with Ace. Eventually, however, big-hearted Ace realizes that Mima belongs with Josh, and thus concocts another scheme to lure his pal back to the Far East. Though many of the earmarks of the "Road" series are evident in Road to Singapore (the "patty-cake" bit, the presence of such guest stars as Hope's radio stooge Jerry Colonna, etc.), the film lacks the spontaneous quality of the later Hope-Crosby-Lamour starrers. Even so, it's an awful lot of fun, especially when Bob and Bing team up on the novelty number "Captain Custard" and Dorothy croons her requisite "moon and stars" romantic ballads.
by Hal Erickson synopsis