Abbott & Costello : Armed Forces Movies

Last year I took a look a series of Abbott & Costello movies that featured the classic monsters from Universal Pictures and how awesome they were and funny they were. This time let’s look at some more of their movies, with an armed forces theme. One thing I have to mention is that I had stopped getting Abbott & Costello movies after the monster movies and the first movie in this review and only recently started getting the rest of the movies again. Which explains the delay of a year between these two posts.

Ok now so on to the movies; the first one (and their second feature film overall) is Buck Privates which was released in 1941. Abbot & Costello (once again, I shall forgo their character names and just refer to them as Abbott & Costello) are con salesmen selling low quality ties to men on the streets when they are chased by a cop. Thinking a long cue to be for the movies, they step into an Army requirement center and are drafted into the army. Millionaire playboy Randolph Parker and Bob Martin, who takes his service more seriously, are also enlisting at the same place as our comedic duo.  Randolph expects his influential father to pull some strings so he can avoid military service, which incenses Bob. Tensions between the two men escalate with the introduction of Judy Gray (the beautiful Jane Frazee), a camp hostess and friend of Bob’s upon whom Randolph sets his sights. Meanwhile Abbott & Costello are not too thrilled to see that the cop who was chasing them is now their drill sergeant in the army.

Randolph soon learns that his father will not use his influence on his behalf, believing that a year in the Army will do Randolph some good. Life at camp is not so bad, since the Andrews Sisters appear at regular intervals to sing patriotic or sentimental tunes, and Costello continues to screw up with major comedic effect. After initial screw ups by Randolf he later sorts things out and both he & Bob are chosen for Officer Training School and Judy is sent to be a hostess at the same camp.

In The Navy sees a popular singer Russ Raymond change his name & identity to Tommy and join the navy. However, Dorothy Roberts, a reporter, discovers his identity and follows him in the hopes of photographing him and revealing his identity to the world. Tommy befriends Abbott & Costello who are assigned to same ship as him and they help hide him from Dorothy, who hatches numerous schemes in an attempt to photograph Tommy/Russ being a sailor. Costello is in love with Patty, one of The Andrews Sisters, sends her numerous fan letters, and tries to impress her with false tales of his physique and his naval rank. Eventually, Patty discovers that he is only a baker, and Costello spends much of the movie attempting to win her affection.

One of the memorable scenes is when Costello impersonates a captain and puts the battleship through a series of madcap maneuvers. There was, however, one problem before it could be released: when the film was screened for the Navy, officers were offended by the sequence, which the studio solved the problem by making the sequence as being in his dream. Abbott and Costello perform the “Lemon Bit,” a crooked shell game routine; the math routine, “13 x 7 = 28”; and “Buzzing the Bee” (called Sons of Neptune), an initiation routine where the team tries to trick the other into asking to be sprayed in the face. During this sequence, Costello began laughing and spit his water on the deck.

The next is Keep Em Flying is taken from the official motto of the Army Air Force. Jinx Roberts is a stunt pilot and his assistants are Abbott and Costello. All three are fired from the carnival and air show that they work for after a disagreement. Jinx decides that he should join the Army Air Force, so they go to a nightclub to party one last time. There Jinx meets and falls for club singer Linda who also joins the USO as a hostess.  It turns out that Jinx’s instructor, Craig Morrison, was his co-pilot on a commercial airplane years earlier, and the two still hold animosity for each other. Meanwhile, Abbott & Costello join the air corps as ground crewman and fall in love with twin USO hostesses (Martha Raye in a dual role).

Jinx attempts to help Jimmy solo, nearly getting him killed. For his efforts, Jinx is hated by Linda for nearly killing her brother and is dishonorably discharged from the corps, along with Abbott & Costello, who has their own mishaps. As they are leaving, Craig gets his parachute caught on the tail end of the plane that he just jumped out of. Jinx confiscates a plane and comes to his rescue. For his heroic actions, he is allowed back into the corps and gets back Linda.

Two years after WWII ended Buck Privates Come Home was released as a sequel to 1941’s Buck Privates. After serving in Europe during the war Costello & Abbott return to the United States aboard a troop ship. They manage to screw up a party for the boys and infuriate Seargent Collins even further when it is discovered that Costello smuggled a small French orphan girl, Eevy, onto the ship. She is handed over to Lieutenant Sylvia Hunter (Joan Fulton) who delivers her to immigration officials in New York. However, during a shift change at the office, Evey is mistaken for a neighborhood kid and set free. Meanwhile, Herbie and Slicker are back to their pre-war occupation of peddling ties in Times Square. Collins is back at his old job as well, as a police officer assigned to the same beat. He is about to arrest the boys when Evey shows up and helps them escape.

In order to adopt Evey one of them has to be married and Evey asks Costello to marry Sylvia but she already has a boyfriend Bill. Bill is a midget car racer. He is sure he will win the $20,000 prize at the Gold Cup Stakes, but his car is being held at a local garage until past due bills are paid. Herbie and Slicker use their separation pay and loans from their old service pals to get the car out of hock. Collins tries to stake them out to capture Evey with them. He eventually chases them to the track, where Herbie gets in Bill’s race car and leads everyone on a wild chase through the streets of New York. Costello is eventually caught, but not before the head of an automobile company is impressed enough to order twenty cars and 200 engines. With his financial future secure, Bill can now marry Sylvia and adopt Evey. And Abbott & Costello get jobs as beat cops ….with Collins as their instructor.

And finally 1950 saw Abbott & Costello In The Foreign Legion – as wrestling promoters Abbot & Costello go to Algeria to bring back Abdulla, a prized wrestler who left the business as he didn’t like the scripted matches. Meanwhile, Abdullah’s cousin, Sheik Hamud El Khalid and a crooked Foreign Legionnaire, Sergeant Axmann, have been raiding a railroad construction site in order to extort “protection” money from the railroad company. When Bud and Lou arrive, they are mistaken for company spies, and the Sheik and Axmann attempt to murder them. Lou outbids the Sheik for six slave girls, one of whom, Nicole (Patricia Medina), is actually a French spy assigned to gain entry into the Sheik’s camp. The boys are then chased, only to wind up hiding at the Foreign Legion headquarters, where Axmann convinces them to join.

he Commandant then grants Bud and Lou a pass into town where they meet up with Nicole. She informs them that they must search Axmann’s room for proof that he is a traitor, but he catches them in the act. However, they are spared, only to end up at a Legionnaire desert camp. Just before the camp is ambushed by the Sheik’s men, Bud and Lou wander off in search of a camel, and escape death. They are eventually captured, along with Nicole, who is put in Sheik Hamud’s harem. The Shiek orders that one of his wrestlers execute them. The wrestler turns out to be Abdullah, who helps them escape. They head to Fort Apar, where they lure the Sheik’s men, and blow it up. They are given awards by the Commandant and honourably discharged from the Legion. Lou thanks Nicole for helping them and gives his award to her before they leave, only for Bud to find out that Lou is taking the six slave girls with them back to the States.

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