With Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lee Bowman, Alan Curtis, Jane Frazee, The Andrews Sisters, Nat Pendleton
Directed by Artur Lubin
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

     BUCK PRIVATES, the first film specifically tailored for the comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, is one of the greatest b-movies ever made.  As the classic comedy teams of the 1930s such as Laurel and Hardy and The Marx Brothers started running out of steam, Abbott and Costello picked up the slack, rocking audiences with their fast and funny dialog routines, most of them lifted straight from vaudeville and burlesque.  Bud Abbott was the perfect straightman, capable of making the most illogical statements sound logical, and Lou Costello was one of America's greatest comics, an opinion, by the way, shared by none other than Charlie Chaplin himself.

    BUCK PRIVATES follows the travails of two con men who accidentally join the army.  They have run ins with the captain (burly tough guy Nat Pendleton), play a not-so-friendly friendly game of craps, go through basis maneuvers and participate in a company boxing match, all of which allow Abbott and Costello to run through some of their most memorable routines, honed to perfection from their years together on stage.  In between the jokes and routines, The Andrew Sisters sing (and swing) such classics as "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and "Apple Blossom Time".  When neither The Boys or The Girls are around, the movie tells the tale of a spoiled son of a wealthy man, his chauffeur, and the the army hostess they both have the hots for.  It should be boring, and it is, but the romantic trio is played by three likable actors (Lee Bowman, Alan Curtis and Jane Frazee) who actually seem to enjoy their parts, so their scenes go down rather smoothly.

    BUCK PRIVATES instantly turned "the Boys" into America's favorite wartime stars, and they would continue to make comedies for Universal for the next two decades. They were so prolific, radio comic Fred Allen once quipped "It's been quiet here in Hollywood recently - Abbott and Costello haven't made a picture all week."  Followed in quick succession by IN THE NAVY, HOLD THAT GHOST and KEEP 'EM FLYING.  Then on Tuesday, they made...  3 - JB

Abbott and Costello      The Age of Comedy


Although Bud and Lou had already appeared in a movie, ONE NIGHT IN THE TROPICS., BUCK PRIVATES was their first starring vehicle.  Reportedly, when Lou saw the way director Arthur Lubin had edited their army routine "The Drill Bit", he was very impressed.  Lubin used the best bits from several run-throughs of the routine to fashion together a scene that was longer and funnier than how it had played on stage.  For one example, Lubin kept in Lou's non-sequitor ad-lib "What time is it?" and Abbott's quick reply of "None of your business!", a classic little moment of nonsense well-remembered by fans of the team.


Buck Privates Come Home (1947)