Monday, 28 November 2011

Buck Privates (1941)

Unlike their previous movie outing, One Night In The Tropics, this film features Bud Abbott and Lou Costello as the main attraction and never spends too much time away from some of their enjoyable banter and comedy routines. Our wiseguys make a big mistake this time when they evade the police and accidentally sign themselves up to the army. There's no way out but a lot of fun to be had, for viewers, as the pair find out just how much they don't fit in with the standard recruits of Uncle Sam. With versions of the "the dice game" and "the loan" and, of course, "army drill" this movie should keep fans of the duo entertained despite the weaker aspects that continually appear throughout the runtime.

Directed by Arthur Lubin and written by Arthur T. Horman, with special material for Abbott & Costello written by John Grant, Buck Privates zips along from decent comedic moment to decent comedic moment but it's hampered by three big negatives - The Andrews Sisters. I'm sorry, I know that some people love these ladies and they've never done anything to me personally, but I just can't stand their brand of jingoistic, creepily wholesome, bland attempts at razzle dazzle entertainment. Now I may have thought differently if I'd seen them performing live back in their heyday but I didn't . . . . . . . . . so I don't.

Everyone else is fine. Lee Bowman is very good as the man just expecting to kill some time in the army until his father extricates him from this terrible mix-up, Alan Curtis is fine as Bowman's ex-employee who can now tell him what he really thinks of him, Jane Frazee is bubbly and lovely as the lady who becomes the centre of attention for the rival men and Nat Pendleton is good fun as the weary Sergeant stuck with two of the worst possible recruits (Abbott & Costello).

There are a couple of decent songs here and there, one performed by Frazee and one by Costello, but most of them come from The Andrews Sisters and therefore didn't do anything for me (though even I admit that Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy is a toe-tapping and irresistible classic).

The boys still had a way to go until they would reach their cinematic peak but Buck Privates (aka Rookies) remains a solid outing thanks to the time given over to their quickfire, verbally dextrous, routines.


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