Friday 23 December 2011

Keep 'Em Flying (1941)

It was obviously only a matter of time. Buck Privates had Abbott & Costello in the army and was quite the hit. In The Navy had the boys in the navy, funnily enough, and was exactly what people seemed to want at the time. Keep 'Em Flying, for those of you who haven't yet guessed, puts our comedy duo in the air corps. They're friends with a daring, but sometimes thoughtless, pilot named Jinx Roberts (Dick Foran) and this means that they get to help and hinder love lives, put each other in dangerous situations and have some amusingly confusing moments with twins Gloria and Barbara Phelps (both played by the sassy Martha Raye).

Falling almost slap bang in the middle of their army and navy adventures, Keep 'Em Flying has some decent comedy throughout and includes some nice aerial stuntwork. The scenes featuring Bud, Lou and both incarnations of Martha Raye are definite highlights and even the few musical numbers interspersed throughout the movie actually provide entertainment as opposed to irritation. William Gargan isn't too bad as Craig Morrison, the trainer who has quite a history with Jinx, and Carol Bruce makes for an attractive and appealing love interest for our plucky pilot.

Arthur Lubin directs the action once more, and works from a capable script by True Boardman, Nat Perrin and John Grant. The lack of consistent hilarity is compensated for by some solid adventure moments (or, in the case of Lou stuck on a runaway torpedo, maybe that should be comedy adventure moments) and the patriotism that crops up here and there never threatens to unbalance the whole thing.

This is one of the better movies from the earlier filmography of A & C but it's still as flawed as many others from the era and doesn't hold up well when stood alongside their better outings. Having said that, fans will find enough to enjoy here and it's a fun way to pass a rainy afternoon.


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