Buck Privates (1941) B+
“Buck Privates,” Universal’s biggest box-office hit of 1941, made the team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello household names in the world.
In this funny feature, well directed by Arthur Lubin,Abbot and Costello are cast as sidewalk salesmen Slicker Smith and Herbie Brown. There’s also a romantic triangle, involving Randolph Parker III (Lee Bowman), Judy Gray (Jane Frazee) and Bob Martin (Alan Curtis).
Escaping the wrath of policeman Mike Collins (Nat Pendleton), Slicker and Herbie go into a nearby movie theater, which unbeknownst to them has been converted into an Army recruiting center.
Reluctantly inducted into the Service, the wealthy draftee Parker hopes to pull a few strings to avoid putting on a uniform, while Parker’s former chauffeur Martin willingly answers his call.
Once in boot camp, Slicker and Herbie continually run afoul of their sergeant, who happens to be their old nemesis, Mike the cop.
Meanwhile, Parker and Martin vie for the attentions of USO hostess Judy, who insists that Parker proves his worth as a soldier. Which means that the comedic duo move into the background—until the romantic subplot is resolved
They do come back at the end for a very satisfying and funny finale.
In the course of the film, Abbott and Costello perform their classic routines, “dice game,” “awkward squad,” “turn on the radio,” and “boxing ring.”
Displaying their impeccable comic tempo and fast, often clever verbal exchanges. In one scene, Bud convinces Lou that if he marries an underage girl, she’ll eventually be older than he.
The film also spotlights the Andrews Sisters, performing such tunes as “Apple Blossom Time” and the Oscar-nominated “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”
Oscar Nominations: 2
Song: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B, music by Hugh Prince, lyrics by Don Raye.
Scoring of Musical: Charles Previn
Oscar Awards: None
The Song Oscar went to Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein’s “The Last Time I Saw Paris, from Lady Be Good.
The Scoring Oscar was won by Frank Churchill and Oliver Wallace for “Dumbo.”
Running time: 84 Minutes.
Directed by Arthur Lubin.
October 10, 2000
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