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Bud and Lou enlist in the army in order to escape being hauled off to jail, and soon find themselves in boot camp. To their dismay, the company's drill instructor is none other than the cop who was all set to run them off to the hoosegow in the first place! The boys end up having a whale of a time getting under the skin of their humourless nemesis. Written by
My uncle who later served in France during the second World War was one of those whose lives was interrupted by the peace time draft before the USA entered World War II. It was with some touch of irony that he will mention to this day he never saw any camp hostesses like Jane Frazee or the Andrews Sisters.
But Buck Privates is an Abbott and Costello film, not a serious drama about the first peace time draft in American history. Bud and Lou got in the short run of this film several of their classic routines.
When Universal signed Abbott and Costello on the strength of their running appearances on Kate Smith's Radio Show, they were expecting to do a series of B programmers with them. They never dreamed that these two burlesque comedians would become the national icons that they did.
Shot on a shoestring the film made an exponential profit for Universal studios. Without the usual Hollywood ballyhoo that would have accompanied a major Hollywood production, Buck Privates returned many times the cost of production.
And through the serendipitous casting angel, Buck Privates also included the Andrews Sisters who got to sing three of their standards in this, I'll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time, You're A Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith, and the immortal Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from Company B.
There are in fact so many musical numbers and so many A&C routines in this short film, there's barely room enough for a plot which involves a playboy Lee Bowman, his former chauffeur AlanCurtis, and Jane Frazee the camp hostess they both want to get better acquainted with. But because of that the film doesn't drag for a second.
Buck Privates set the standard for the films that Bud and Lou did for Universal. No doubt about it, their best work was in the early Forties and Buck Privates is the best of all.
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