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I've seen Pardon My Sarong over 10 times now and have to consider it
one of Bud & Lou's best films, up there with Ride 'em cowboy, Meets
Frankenstein, Hold that ghost etc. PMS is more distinctly episodic than
most of their others and would present a Plot Coherency Issue with
impatient first-comers, but if got through a sparkling atmospheric
musical comedy lies within. The early '40's Universal Harmless Escapist
Entertainment atmosphere helps a lot though, this must have been made
straight after Hellzapoppin - wasn't that front porch outside the
maggickan's cabaret show where Hugh Herbert's Eat At Joe's dickie blew
The boys are illicitly taking Robert Paige's entertainment troupe from Chicago to LA in a bus - all those women in tow and he falls for one who is out to nobble him. Tip, Tap & Toe provide some amazing dance scenes (not quite a rhythmic brainstorm though), alongside the lilting Ink Spots. Detective William Demarest briefly tries to stop them but gives up the chase when they and the plot veer toward a South Seas island. Here "Lovely Luana" & "Vingo Jingo" are put over by a gorgeous Nan Wynn, while Leif Erickson plays a stinker and Lionel Atwill as usual plays a baddie because he was one.
There's plenty of nicely contrived snappy routines for us aficionados: The old baseball story; Hiding from Demarest; "Back up! Go ahead!"; Sharing a pea for dinner etc. Not a lot for non-fans however - I think a better introduction to A&C for anyone interested would be Meets Frankenstein or maybe Time of their lives. And this one is definitely best watched sober!
People who weren't around in 1942 - as I was - will not appreciate
that, although we all loved Bud and Lou, in this fast moving wacky
comedy, Forties cinema-goers worldwide wanted bags of *jazzy* Swing
Music to help it along...hence the glut of songs and production
For today's latter-day critics who would seem to be complaining about *too many musical numbers* in this talkie, I would ask you to understand that - at this time - nearly every studio was working overtime to make just such musical films, and indeed it was as if the public's appetite for these lovely melodious lyrics, and catchy rhythmic tunes, could never be satisfied.
So, watch it again, and don't worry about the music: that's what made the world go round in those happier, less smart-assed, less cool and less funky days...days, when *pop* music was there to entertain and unite everyone in the entire family, as opposed to using it as a device to exclude all but one isolated age group, to the detriment of the rest, as would seem to appertain today.
Until the VHS of Pardon My Sarong was released I had never seen the
complete film. When I was a lad and WPIX television in New York City
used to show Abbott and Costello films every Sunday morning, the film
always began with Costello crashing that bus into the harbor. I used to
wonder why as prominent an actor like William Demarest had such a brief
So when I was a kid I missed the Ink Spots do a number and I missed cop Bill Demarest get bamboozled by A&C. Both Abbott and Costello disguise themselves as a magician and make Demarest the fall guy for some gags. This might be the only time Abbott was ever a comic in any of their films and he was good.
I guess the Chicago Transit company didn't want to put two buses in jeopardy which was why both boys were on the same bus. Millionaire Yachtsman Robert Paige has some how talked these two into leaving their Michigan Avenue route and driving him and a bevy of beauties to Los Angeles for the start of a boat race.
Of course having lost their jobs as bus drivers with this harebrained move the boys sign on with Paige as a yacht crew along with Virginia Bruce who is the sister of one of Paige's rivals and they get blown off course and wind up on an island Dorothy Lamour would be found on if the film had been made at Paramount.
Don't ask me how, but the natives make Costello some kind of Deity and he gets to be the big man on campus there. Of course we also have resident villain Lionel Atwill looking to loot some treasure.
Like Douglass Dumbrille in a few Abbott and Costello films, Atwill looked like he was having a great old time burlesquing his own sinister image, especially in the chase sequence at the end.
One of the best from Abbott and Costello's early Universal days.
Having returned to Universal following MGM's somewhat disappointing "Rio
Rita," Abbott and Costello get back on track with "Pardon My Sarong," sort
of their version of the Hope-Crosby "Road" pictures.
A&C play Chicago bus drivers, who through a series of funny machinations, end up on a tropic isle with evil Lionel Atwill. There are many funny moments both at sea and on the island.
If there are people who don't like Abbott and Costello, it is probably because they don't like Abbott's often callous treatment of Costello. While this is part of their characterizations, and is often funny, the screenwriters went admittedly overboard in "Sarong." While Virginia Bruce does stand up to Abbott on Costello's behalf several times, one tasteless gag includes Abbott matter-of-factly giving Costello a gun to shoot himself! Such gags have limited the duo's appeal over time, but if looked upon broadly, "Sarong" is a funny film and shows A&C at their peak, which ran roughly from 1941 to 1945. 7 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Two unlikely buddies hijack a bus, stow away on a charter boat, land on
an uncharted island, and save the sacred ruby of Mantua. On paper, the
concept doesn't seem to work, but with Abbott and Costello, anything is
possible. In "Pardon My Sarong", all this and more combine to present a
musical comedy that works even after sixty years.
Watching the night club scene, it occurred to me that you never see any act today that features tap dancing, but the efforts of the team of Tic, Tac and Toe make for a very entertaining presentation, combining originality, athleticism and choreography all rolled into one. The musical stylings of The Four Ink Spots are also a treat, and a reasonable alternative to the Andrews Sisters who graced a number of the comedy duo's earlier films.
When I saw this movie as a kid, the Big Stinker routine always made me roar, and surprisingly, it still holds up pretty well today in the chuckle department. It's neatly complemented by the "Tree of Truth" gag, with Lou taking his licks each time he makes a comment.
There's also a bevy of pretty girls around to offset the nefarious deeds of the evil Doctor Varnoff (Lionel Atwill) and his henchmen. It all combines to make an entertaining hour and a half of antic fun for the "moola" team of Abbott and Costello.
PARDON MY SARONG (Universal, 1942), directed by Erle C. Kenton, with
original screenplay by True Boardman, stars that wacky comedy team of
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in one of their wildest romps. For their
eighth released comedy, they assume the outrageous names of Algernon
"Algy" Shaw (Abbott) and Wellington Phlug (Costello), and roles of a
couple of bus drivers taking their Michigan Avenue crosstown bus full
of passengers for a long distance ride to California while assisting
millionaire playboy, Tommy Layton (Robert Paige) to his forthcoming
yacht race on time. The president of the Chicago Municipal Bus Company
(Charles Lane) hires Detective Kendall (William Demarest) to track down
the bus (Number 5111) and its drivers, and through a warrant, have them
placed under arrest. As they drive their bus back to Chicago with
Kendall by their side, Algy and Wellington somehow end up on Tommy's
yacht where they acquire new jobs as his able bodied seamen. Also on
board is stowaway Joan (Virginia Bruce), sister of a rival yachtsman,
Roger Marshall (William Cabanne), who purposely forces Tommy's yacht to
lose its course, drifting around the ocean with limited food supply
before turning up on a South Seas island inhabited with native girls,
tribesmen, a native chief (Samuel S. Hinds) and the mysterious
archaeologist, Doctor Varnoff (Lionel Atwill - taking time away from
horror film roles as 1942's THE MAD DOCTOR OF MARKET STREET, which,
too, took place on an unchartered island) with a hidden short wave
radio in his cottage. Things get really hectic (and funnier) after
Somewhat inspired by the current trend of Paramount's three "Road to" adventure comedies starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour, PARDON MY SARONG's only similarities are its wild antics and constant ad-libs between the two central characters. While Abbott is a far cry as the crooning Bing Crosby-type, they each share their conniving ways of bossing around their unsuspecting lifelong pals. As for Costello, he can be just as funny, when situations allow, than the wisecracking Hope, though both can tend to over emphasize themselves as laugh getters. Unlike Bob and Bing, Bud and Lou don't have any serious-minded straight woman in the tradition of "queen of the sarongs" Dorothy Lamour to fight over, but there's Virginia Bruce as the feuding love interest opposite young yachtsman (Robert Paige). The casting of William Demarest and Lionel Atwill separately matching wits with Abbott and Costello certainly add certain interest to the story, such as it is. Other members of the cast include that of Nan Wynn (Luana); Marie McDonald (Ferna); and Jack LaRue (Tabor).
The screen treatment for PARDON MY SARONG is as contrived as its title, but it does allow for some exceptionally hilarious individual scenes during its madcap course of 83 minutes. Though Abbott and Costello routines tend to repeat themselves from time to time, thus going one better with each passing film, there's some material here that's not only first time enactments, but those never repeated again. Those in general are: "The Baseball Story," which has nothing to do with their legendary "Who's on First" routine, but an original concept where Wellington tells one to con a gas station attendant (Irving Bacon) from paying $12.50 for gassing up his bus; Algy and Wellington disguising themselves as magicians to perform failed magic acts on the detective (Demarest); and the dual's definition for the word "stinker" to the tough native, Whaba (hilariously played by Leif Erickson). Much familiar routines as "Back up, go ahead," the switching duped drinks, and "the tree of truth" are also played out to great advantage for guaranteed laugh assurance. And what Abbott and Costello movie isn't complete without a show-stopping chase. Aside from Costello (in zebra striped shirt) being very much rare form here, the climatic surreal chase involving him and his seal friend, Sharky, is truly one of the great highlights.
In traditional 1940s style, song numbers are incorporated into most comedies such as this. With those composed by Don Raye, Gene DePaul, Milton Drake, Ben Oakland, Stanley Cowan and Bobby North, the musical soundtrack includes "Do I Worry?" (sung by The Four Ink Spots); "Shout, Brother, Shout" (Ink Spots, tap dance by Tip, Tap and Toe); "Lovely Luana," "Oh Great One" "Vingle-Jingle" (sung by Nan Wynn) and "Vingle Jungle" (sung during closing credits). While some sources list the Ink Spots signature number of "If I Didn't Care" as part of the movie, it's not visible in the final print.
As with all Abbott and Costello comedies produced from 1940 to 1956, PARDON MY SARONG was distributed to home video, and later onto the DVD format. Prior to that, it enjoyed frequent revivals on broadcast television, especially on New York City's WPIX, Channel 11, during its Sunday morning/afternoon lineup (1972-1990). Cable TV presentations include The Comedy Channel (1990s); and American Movie Classics (2001). With PARDON MY SARONG having an offbeat moment as Costello's suicide attempt, the movie overall is certainly impossible not to dislike. (***)
Having reviewed Laurel & Hardy in Pardon Us a few days ago, I'm now commenting on Abbott & Costello's Pardon My Sarong. The significance of these two being submitted so close together is what I'll mention when I'm nearing the end. Right now, I'll just say that this is the funniest of the early A & C vehicles that I've just rewatched on YouTube. And not only are Bud & Lou at the top of their game-how refreshing to see Abbott get a few good laughs himself here-but the rest of the cast, including the romantic leads of Robert Paige and Virginia Bruce seem to be having fun every step of the way. I mean, William Demarest as a cop and Leif Erickson as the "Biggest Stinker of Them All" (LOL) are great foils for the team. And the musical interludes by The Four Ink Spots and Nan Wynn are soooo enjoyable to me! Really, Pardon My Sarong is one of the most fun of the A & C pictures. Okay, so the reason that Pardon Us and Pardon My Sarong have gotten comments from me on the closest of days is because since Black History Month is only a few days away, I've been mentioning the contributions of various performers of color to these movies. So with this one, we have not only The Four Ink Spots (Deek Watson, Charles Fuqua, Hoppy Jones, Bill Kenny) but also a tap dancing trio named Tip, Tap, and Toe (Ted Fraser, Samuel Green, and Ray Winfield who was the innovator of the sliding style of tap as evidenced by the way he glided on that table during The Four Ink Spots second set. Really impressive, that was especially when I watched it a second time!), and the choreographer of those island dances led by Ms. Wynn was Katherine Dunham. They were quite sexy especially "Vingo Jingo". By the way, Ms. Dunham studied and began practicing her art in Chicago, Ill., my birthtown (Chicago was also where the bus driven by Bud and Lou in the picture's beginning came from). One more thing, I always like to acknowledge whenever players from my favorite movie, It's a Wonderful Life, are in other films and TV shows. Here it's Charles Lane as Bud & Lou's superior at the bus terminal and Samuel S. Hinds as one of the natives. They both previously were in A & C's last Universal movie before this one, Ride 'Em Cowboy.
Probably not one of Abbott and Costello's shining moments. It's funny in spots ("Go ahead, back up"), but it lacks comic momentum. 5 musical numbers are simply too many for an 80-minute comedy. The numbers are interesting in their own right, but not well-integrated into the story, and not as catchy as some of those in another A & C film of the same period, "In The Navy". And although I have absolutely nothing against Black & White films, the tropical island setting of this one might have benefited from being shot in luscious Technicolor. On the plus side, the special effects are very impressive for their age, and as Luana, the island tribe chief's daughter, Nan Wynn is a dazzling exotic beauty - without exaggeration, one of the most beautiful women I have EVER seen. (**1/2)
I wanted to see this film because my grandfather acted in it. His name is James Spencer. This film was very fun to see and watch the entertainment of the war years. I specially enjoyed the songs and dancing in this film. There is very little of that kind of entertainment in today's films. A great shame! "The Boys", Lou & Bud, were never better!
This is pure silliness at its best. If you plan to watch, bring your sense
of silly. A native dance turns into a nightclub act; Lou the bus driver
confused by the instructions "go ahead and back up"; and many other
Bud and Lou obviously had a great time making this movie (Lou is hysterically funny). A smile never left my face during the last half of it, even though this a 60+ year old movie now. I'm sure it was popular escapist fun for Allied troops during WWII.
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