For Reel

Buck Privates (1941)
February 23, 2016, 3:06 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Arthur Lubin
2.5 Stars
Buck PrivatesUniversal’s most profitable film of 1941 would be the first in a long series of pictures starring the popular duo of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, who were such scene-stealers in One Night in the Tropics that they were granted top billing and a respectable budget. It is not clear why this particular effort’s reputation has increased over the years–if it allows the team to perform some of their most polished routines, it is not as inventive or as sheerly enjoyable as some of their later pictures, such as The Time of Their Lives or a handful of the horror genre hybrids. Interestingly enough, the picture isn’t quite as pro-war as even their later service comedies–though Costello’s cowardice is part of his character, both he and Abbott are initially reluctant and fearful to enlist, and their particular lack of patriotism isn’t so much resolved as they get drowned out by The Andrew Sisters’ pop songs. The romantic subplot is such a dud that it barely even registers, but there are some gags that make good use of the props determined by the setting–Abbott and Costello’s best gags often involve their play with the genre of the film they’re in, and Buck Privates’ best scene involves Abbott serving as a drill sergeant for the incompetent Costello.

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