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With "Here Come The Co-eds," Abbott & Costello have their funniest film
since 1942's "Who Done It." The duo seems more energetic in their
performance, and the storyline (two ballroom dancers who find themselves
caretakers at an all-girls college) suits them well.
The "Jonah" routine shines here, and the comic timing the duo display is exquisite. Costello shows his basketball prowess during the climactic basketball game. Also a plus -- a decent supporting cast featuring Peggy Ryan ("She's cuuuuute!") and Lon Chaney Jr. as the deliciously evil head caretaker.
The movie avoids heavy and sluggish moments and is paced well, although one could still due without the music filler. All in all though, a solid effort with solid laughs. 8 out of 10.
Here Come The Co-Eds is a film starring the comedy team of Abbott and
Costello. It's directed by Jean Yarbrough and acting support comes from
Peggy Ryan, Martha O'Driscoll, June Vincent, Lon Chaney Jr. & Donald
Cook. Plot finds the bumbling duo at Bixby College for young ladies,
where they get involved in numerous escapades in trying to save the
school from closure.
Easily one of Abbott and Costello's best film's, Here Come the Co-Eds finds the boys hitting the high laugh standards they set themselves at their peak. Even the familiar routines are given new life as they seem to respond well to Yarbrough's smooth direction. Top moments are a glue based kitchen sequence, a wrestling match, a basketball game and an excellent boat (on the road) chase finale. Film is boosted considerably by the presence of Phil Spitalny's all-girl 'Hour of Charm' orchestra and the sprightly Peggy Ryan. The latter of which helps provide a show stopper of a tap routine at the basketball match.
Tomfoolery unbound, and with a good production value to boot, this is classic A&C and prescribed to lift the blues. 8/10
FINALLY Costello does something physically brilliant without
rear-projection. Originally I did not want to bother with a review of
this cute little piece of fluff, but I have to respond to the reviewer
who thought the basketball episode was fake. ONLY the final throw is a
matte-job, and this is SUPPOSED to be goofy. You can stop-action
through all the other shots Costello makes and it's really him and the
ball. Although the movie should have been better written, this turns
out to have the most fulfilling Costello scene in all the 8 movies of
Volume 1 and the first 5 of this volume (I haven't watched the last 3).
My two criticisms of the film itself are that some of the songs are boring, and the ending makes no sense. But it does have the Dance Escorts vaudeville scene, Car 13, Rolling the Dice, a song and almost-dance with Costello and Peggy Ryan, Under Covers sketch, Costello's version of Oyster Chowder, and some great solo dancing by Ryan. And personally, I liked the violin concerto because the close-ups show so well how cleverly a violinist must negotiate this piece.
The really amazing thing in this film is the progressive nature of the
treatment of women's education. The film argues that women should be
given equal education to men, a progressive, if not radical position in
There are a number of wonderful elements in this movie that raise it a notch above the average A and B comedy. Peggy Ryan is absolutely delightful as Costello's love interest. Lou makes the hilarious observation that he feels like Donald O'Connor. Apparently Peggy and Donald were in a series of popular movies just before this time, so the reference is to that fact. Peggy is perfectly cast as she mirrors Lou's innocent boyish quality with her own innocent girlish quality. Peggy's character's name is Patty and I would wager that Charles Schulz's Peppermint Patty character comes from the character in this movie.
The dropping of the handkerchief bit is still hilarious and Costello's trick basketball shooting while in drag is quite enjoyable.
Altogether, it is a delightful mixture which works on many levels. I would put it just below "Time of Their Lives" and "Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein" as my favorite A and B film.
The main attraction in Here Come the Coeds is seeing Lou Costello in
drag during a girl's college basketball game. One of the players is
injured and he substitutes. When he's conked on the head he develops
amnesia and then Abbott and Peggy Ryan tell him he's Daisy Dimple the
world's greatest female basketball player and he proceeds to act the
Some here have said that Costello was hardly convincing in drag. But I have to say I've seen drag performers a whole lot worse.
Abbott and Costello are paid dancing escorts at a dime a dance palace. Why anyone would pay to dance with Costello is anyone's guess. But they get fired and land jobs at a girl's college where Abbott's sister, June Vincent, enrolls due to a publicity gimmick Abbott thought up.
There was some other comment that this was the only time any female, Peggy Ryan, showed an interest romantically in Lou. Not true at all. In previous films Martha Raye and Joan Davis did. But this was the only film Costello got to do a song and dance with a female partner. He did do an outrageous waltz with Joan Davis in Hold That Ghost, but there was no singing.
Peggy Ryan was doing a whole lot of musicals with Donald O'Connor at the time at Universal. She had a nice fresh appeal and partnered well with O'Connor. Working with Costello must have been something different.
Donald Cook as the Dean of Students is paired with June Vincent. As they are a pretty sappy pair fortunately there's not much film wasted on them. Charles Dingle as the head of the board of trustees fares much better. He's his usual pompous stuffed shirt, a part he played like no one else in film history. I wish they'd given him some comedy bits with the boys.
Lon Chaney, Jr. plays the head caretaker and the nemesis of the boys. He gets right in with the comedy and serves as a great foil for Costello, especially in the wrestling match sequence. It's a ripoff of what they'd done in Buck Privates in a boxing match, but who cares, it's still a very funny sequence.
I saw just about all of Abbott and Costello's films as a lad. WPIX television in New York used to run them constantly on Sunday morning. For some reason Here Come the Coeds wasn't among them, I only got to see it a few years ago. But it was worth the wait.
Bud and Lou are hapless dance escorts who get fired from their jobs and
wind up working as janitors at an all-girl college. Their grumpy
supervisor is none other than rough and ready Lon Chaney (THE WOLF
MAN). After a series of funny events, the topper comes when Costello
has to save the day playing for the girl's basketball team, to win
money and save the school.
HERE COME THE CO-EDS is really a pretty good comedy from the team at this mid-point in their careers. It's fun to see Lon Chaney joining in the antics with A&C (Lon would later re-join the duo to reprise his role of the Wolf Man in ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN), and pretty Martha O'Driscoll is easy on the eyes as the model who gains enrollment at the college. Some of the film's assets are a generous amount of humorous sequences that make it worth the effort: Lou eats Oyster Stew with a live oyster; the boys engage in a funny kitchen clean-up; Costello wrestles the Masked Marvel; Bud keeps interrupting Lou while he tries to tell his joke about Jonah and the Whale, and Lou swallows a pair of dice so Bud and Chaney have to toss him around in order to gamble.
It's almost sad to have to say it, but here again there are far too many musical interludes that pop up throughout the course of the good time, and these often bring the gags to a screeching halt. Some tunes are lightweight fluff, though a couple are downright excruciating (like the two violin solos). If not for these breaks, I would rate the movie a bit higher. If you're looking for an entertaining Abbott and Costello film to laugh with, give this one a try. Skip over the musical numbers if you must, but give the comedy a chance. **1/2 out of ****
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Peggy Ryan (only 20) plays Lou's girlfriend and is she a dynamo! She is
a triple-threat who can (tap) dance, sing, and is a great little (5'1")
comic actress. She runs away with the movie! A curious cast, with Lon
Chaney Jr. in a comedic role without his usual fur! I love "the
squirting" Oyster Soup gag! The college "cheerleader pep rally" numbers
and "Let's Play House" show off Peggy's talents. Lou's comment is
correct. She did dance with Donald O'Connor in several Universal
wartime films. She also appeared with Mickey Rooney. The "Main House"
of "Bixby College" is The Colonial House (exterior) of "Time of Their
Lives"! The plot: "Molly" (Martha O'Driscoll) is the beautiful blonde
singer. Abbott and Costello dream up a publicity stunt but she actually
enrolls in Bixby College. The college is about to go under. To raise
money, Lou wrestles "The Masked Marvel" (Chaney). He wins by default! A
comic basketball game: Bixby College plays the "Amazons" who pose as
"ringers" for the opposing college team. Lou gets "conked" on the head
and thinks he is a famous girl basketball star. He does all of the
basketball trick shots except one! Another Universal (short) car chase
climax, which this time involves a sailboat on a trailer? It all holds
up pretty-well. Take an "intermission" during the two
all-girl-orchestra interludes. The rest of it is quite enjoyable. TCM
can run all 36 of the Abbott and Costello movies.
Note: One of the "critics" keeps complaining about disc tracking. He needs a different player! No problems with all 8 movies (in Vol.2).
1945's "Here Come the Co-eds" was the last great Abbott and Costello picture until at least 1947's "The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap," pairing Lou with the pretty and vivacious Peggy Ryan, already a veteran of a dozen films opposite regular musical co-star Donald O'Connor. Like The Marx Brothers, A & C were at their best in surroundings where they didn't belong, and working as caretakers at an all-girl college would be a dream job for any romantic fool. As Patty Gayle, perky Peggy Ryan shines as Costello's love interest, doing a charming song and dance called 'Let's Play House,' each in turn lascivious or childlike, Lou even prefacing the number by remarking, "I feel just like Donald O'Connor!" as Peggy smiles knowingly. Another rarity is giving Bud Abbott a sister in Martha O'Driscoll's Molly (despite the 27 year age difference!), who earns a scholarship to Bixby College, greatly improving their basketball team. The climactic game between Bixby and Carlisle gives Costello the opportunity to show why he used to be free throw champion of Paterson, New Jersey, making all the actual shots without missing, except for the final trick shot that bounces from one basket to the other (11 years later, he showed he still had it, effortlessly sinking a free throw for 'The Armory Five' on THIS IS YOUR LIFE). Three years before "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein," Lon Chaney first encounters the team as the conniving caretaker, 'Strangler' Johnson, his best scene after Costello swallows his dice, making bets with Abbott by checking Lou through a fluoroscope! There's a comic wrestling match between Lou and Lon (the latter disguised as 'The Masked Marvel'), and one with Lou trying to eat oyster stew as its live occupant refuses to cooperate (revised for a frog in "The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap," then disguised as whale meat in "Lost in Alaska"). Lon Chaney worked with Martha O'Driscoll in several pictures ("Crazy House," "Follow the Boys," "Ghost Catchers," "The Daltons Ride Again" and "House of Dracula"), while reuniting with Peggy Ryan in her penultimate film, 1949's "There's a Girl in My Heart," featuring several other former Universal players- Lee Bowman ("Buck Privates"), Gloria Jean ("Never Give a Sucker an Even Break"), and Elyse Knox ("Hit the Ice," "The Mummy's Tomb").
Costello certainly earns his money in this lively romp. Between getting
knocked into potted palms or whirled around like a spinning top, his
sight gags fly thick and fast. The plot has the boys joining a girl's
school as caretakers, and then working to save the school from
bankruptcy by outwitting (sort of) crooked gamblers.
It's a good chance to catch teen fashions, circa 1945, as the co-eds parade around in casual wear of the day. Universal certainly stocked the screen with a crowd of young lovelies to look at. Still, my money's on the hugely talented Peggy Ryan who steals the show with her mugging and sprightly dancing. She's a perfect foil for the equally versatile Costello. Too bad her movie career was so brief. Also, there's Phil Spitalny and His All-Girl Orchestra. They're a matter of taste, but Evelyn sure knows how to saw away on her Magic Violin.
Anyway, it's a fast 90-minutes, with the boys in fine energetic form, along with an excellent supporting cast, especially with baddies like Dingle and Chaney, and the expected whirlwind finish.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Well, of course, technically, there are no co-eds in this exclusive
girl's school. Co-eds are only found in schools catering to both sexes.
Paramount got it right a few years later, in "Here Comes the Girls",
with Bob Hope in a basically similar situation to Abbott and
Costello(A&C), in this film.
When I saw Peggy Ryan listed high in the credits, I immediately zeroed in on this film, as I could imagine what a teaming with Costello might be like. Peggy is one of the most ignored film sensations ever! She was cute and vivacious, was great at comedy and gymnastic tap dancing, and was a passable singer. She was the perfect partner for a teenage Don O'Conner, in their now neglected series of musical comedies in the early '40s, most of which I have seen and reviewed(check YouTube). Only Don's being drafted into the army broke up their collaboration. I always wondered how she might fare as Costello's partner in madness, they both being contracted with Universal. Here, I got at least a partial answer, though I regret they didn't do a few more. Perhaps the boys didn't want to be upstaged by her. Peggy and Lou do the novelty song "Let's Play House". Peggy serves as Lou's sweetheart, getting a few kisses, which is more than O'Conner usually gave. Near the end, Peggy stars in the production number "Jumping on a Saturday Night", which well displayed her athletic style of tap dancing and other types of dancing, as well as singing.
There's plenty of action in the segments without Peggy, as well. The boys begin as escorts for women lacking a partner at a ballroom dancing establishment. They get in trouble with the boss, run outside into an empty police car and take off. See the film to find out how this turns out.
Abbott's sister Molly (Martha O'Driscoll) wants to go to the all- girls Bixby College. But, she wants her brother(Abbott) and his friend(Costello)to be accepted in some capacity at the school. Dean Benson(Donald Cook) hires them as custodians, under the supervision of the imposing Mr. Johnson. When Lou is sweeping the floor, he tries to hide it under the rug, but the underside says 'Don't put it here'! Then, he tries another rug corner, and it says 'Not here either'. Later, when sweeping the sidewalk, he cuts the edge of the turf with his knife, lifts up the turf, and sweeps it under. Of course, Lou gets into all kinds of trouble when cleaning a room and the kitchen, with Abbott sometimes coming to his aid.
When Costello swallows Johnson's pair of dice(why?), Johnson puts him in front of a primitive fluoroscope to see the dice. He plays dice with Abbott, each time shaking Lou, to shake the dice. Then, A&C do their 'Jonah and the whale' story for the girls.
Phil Spitalny and his all-girl band perform on a number of occasions, and back up Peggy in her production. The violin recitals do seem rather out of place, but no more so than Harpo Marx's harp solos. This band also performed in the Peggy Ryan-costarring "When Johnny Comes Marching Home".
The school needs $20,000. to pay off the mortgage held by chairman of the board Kirkland(Charles Dingle), who threatens to call the mortgage, if Dean Benson doesn't resign and Molly isn't expelled. Molly is important to the basket ball team, which has ambitions. The kids figure they need at least $1000. so that they can bet on their next basket ball game with 20:1 odds against them. So, they put on an orchestral recital for paying patrons. This nets only $500. So, Lou is reluctantly talked into a wrestling match with The Masked Marvel. Later, he finds out that The Marvel is his supervisor, Johnson. Of course, Lou is badly banged up in the fight, but he lucks out when The Marvel makes one mistake, knocking himself out... Now, the basket ball game. Molly is their center and star player, but is soon intentionally injured, so Lou(that's right) takes her place. The ref is knocked out, so Abbott takes his place. Bixby gets off to a good start, but when the opposition substitutes the professional team: The Amazons, things go quickly downhill, especially with Lou putting the ball in the wrong basket! But, Lou finally gets his head right and makes a spectacular comeback. Unfortunately, his last shot, with the score tied, bounces off the backboard,and all the way into the oppositions' basket(believe it or not!). Looks like the school is lost unless Kirkland's demands are met. So, Lou steals the prize money and a mad chase ensues. At the end, the opposition is declared in violation of rules, using professional players. Never mind that Bixby's star player obviously wasn't a girl! In summary, this is my favorite A&C film so far, although I have many to see. The plot follows the form of many Peggy & O'Connor films, where the young people are rebelling against an old fogey or two, who holds power over them by bureaucratic authority, or holds the purse strings. In this film, Chairman Kirkland fits both of these categories.
For those who complain that the screenplay is grossly unrealistic, you have to accept that's the way a A&C film is going to be. Otherwise, skip them.
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