For Reel

One Night in the Tropics (1940)
February 23, 2016, 3:03 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: A. Edward Sutherland
2.5 Stars
One Night in the TropicsBudd Abbott and Lou Costello’s second appearance on screen was in 1941’s Buck Privates, which proved to be such a success for the duo that they were leading men for the rest of their careers. One year earlier, however, they made their screen debuts in this minor musical as supporting players. As they were billed behind bland leads like Allan Jones, Nancy Kelly, and Robert Cummings, it is needless to say that they stole the show (although Cummings does have a likable charisma about him). Among the routines they bring to the table is perhaps their best known “Who’s On First” bit, which stops the show even as a condensed version. In fact, the duo is such a breath of fresh air that it is to the detriment of the rest of the plot, which in itself is not a bad one (adapted from a novel by Earl Derr Biggers, who excelled with gimmicky narratives like Seven Keys to Baldpate). Jones plays “Lucky” Moore, a gambler who has the bright idea to sell “love insurance” to his friend Steve (Robert Cummings) as a guarantee that he will marry Cynthia (Nancy Kelly). Things get complicated when Lucky begins to fall for Cynthia, just as Steve is falling for another girl–should Lucky follow his heart, he’ll have to shell out $1 million!  There is some amusing banter between the foursome, and the conceit that each member of a couple is longing for someone else does create convincing tension. Other than that, however, the songs are forgettable and the leads are interchangeable, and those problems become evident every time a scene between Abbott and Costello really works!

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