Wednesday, 25 January 2012

It Ain't Hay (1943)

AKA Money For Jam.

A movie that was believed lost for a number of years, due to legal issues, I am one of the many Abbott & Costello fans glad to find that the movie is available because it's another one of their better outings, with Erle C. Kenton once again handling the directorial duties and a script by Allen Boretz and John Grant based on a story by Damon Runyon entitled "Princess O'Hara".

This movie takes quite a few different directions in the first half but the central storyline really kicks off when Bud and Lou find themselves on the lookout for a horse after the death of an animal that belonged to a friend. They want to make everything right but, as usual, end up making things a lot worse with an adventure that involves mistaken equine identity, a bit of gambling and the usual mugging to camera.

It may not be one classic moment after another from start to finish but It Ain't Hay has a number of scenes that hold up as great examples of A & C at their best. There is plenty of wordplay and plenty of dodgy arithmetic when it comes to financial matters. There are also a couple of sly, self-referential gags that should please fans. The reply given to the delivery of "Go answer the door. It might be Warner" is my favourite in the whole movie.

The two leads do their usual stuff, and do it well, but the supporting cast isn't really up to much, with the exception of Eugene Pallette. Grace McDonald, Cecil Kellaway, Patsy O'Connor, etc all do just fine but they're outshone by the leads and also, in one scene, by a marvellous routine performed by The Step-Brothers (AKA The Four Step-Brothers).

The movie runs out of steam in the second half but it more than makes up for it with the great first half and the quality of the gags throughout.


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