KEEP 'EM FLYING follows the well-established BUCK PRIVATES formula of Abbott and Costello owning one half of the film and the male lead (Dick Foran in this case) owning the other half. Even the music recalls the hits of BUCK PRIVATES; "Keep 'Em Flying" is a thinly disguised rewrite of "You're a Lucky Fellow, Mister Smith" and the swinging "Pig Foot Pete", although a good song sung with gusto by Martha Raye, is really just a retread of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy".
What KEEP 'EM FLYING lacks is the big routines that made BUCK PRIVATES such a delight. Many of A&C's comedy routines seem half ad-libbed, while others are dependent on back projection, models and stuntmen, such as a runaway plane sequence with Lou as a reluctant pilot.
The best scenes feature Martha Raye playing a pair of twins, one serious, one fun-loving, who hook up with the Boys. One of the few A&C co-stars who could go toe to toe with Lou Costello, Raye shines in both roles. The film's best scene is the famous routine where they only have twenty-five cents to buy lunch at a diner, a routine that Laurel and Hardy did quite well in their short Men o' War.
Slickly made (and quickly - this was their
fourth film of 1941!), KEEP 'EM FLYING is a fun little film, but
without the usual routines, it does not match the heights of BUCK
PRIVATES or HOLD THAT GHOST. - JB