Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Overlooked Movies -- Buck Privates

Before you cast too many aspersions on Buck Privates, consider that it was nominated for two Academy Awards.  For music, I admit, not for acting or story.  Abbott and Costello are a couple of sharpies selling neckties out of a suitcase when a cop gets after them.  They hide out in a recruiting center and find themselves in the army.  Also joining up are a spoiled rich guy and his chauffeur.  The rich guy expects his father to pull strings and get out soon.  The chauffeur is all for doing his duty.  They compete for the charms of the lovely Joan Frazee, the Andrews sisters sing "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," and Bud and Lou engage in their comedy routines.

Bud and Lou are dismayed to discover that the cop who was after them is their sergeant.  What are the odds?  There are plenty of conflicts there, of course.  The rich guy doesn't get out, the army shapes him up, and he gets into officer training school, as does the chauffeur.  They are now more or less pals.

Full-out patriotism rules the day, as it almost always did in the '40s, the real thing, not what passes for it these days.  No cynicism, no winking.  Even if the whole cast was planning to dodge the draft, the movie plays it 100% straight.  It was hugely popular and made stars of Abbott and Costello.  You might find that hard to believe, watching it now, but it's true, and it was fun to revisit the old days, even if the corn was as high as an elephant's eye.  Or a giraffe's eye.  Those who don't remember the old days might find it intolerable.  Those who can't take Abbott and Costello's brand of humor certainly will.

4 comments:

James Reasoner said...

I love this one. Saw it many times on TV growing up and always luaghed.

August West said...

The hiding out in a Recruitment Line stunt was used in a 1940 Three Stooges short called "Boobs in Arms." Their drill instructor also turns out to be the guy they were fleeing from as civilians.

Elgin Bleecker said...

Bill – This is a great A&C movie. Classic scene: Bud encouraging Lou to play his radio in the soldiers’ tent even though it enrages the sergeant, played by Nat Pendleton. “Yes you will.” Thanks for reminding us to go look at some A&C.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

It's been years since I've seen it. but I still have fond memories of it.