In the gay '90s, cardsharps take over a Mississippi riverboat from a kindly captain. Their first act is to change the showboat into a floating gambling house. A ham actor and his bumbling sidekick try to devise a way to help the captain regain ownership of the vessel. Written by
In many of Abbott and Costello's films, their faces are visible through the "O"'s in their names. In this one, only Costello's face is seen at first; then he silently calls, "Hey, Abb-bott!," and Abbott's face appears. See more »
This movie is too often considered great just because of the "Who's on First" routine. Now don't get me wrong, that is the best part of it, but there are other wonderful parts of it as well. This is the first costume piece that Abbott and Costello ever did. I don't know that it had to be set on a Riverboat, but it did give them the opportunity to do a lot of great gags. This movie also includes the classic "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" routine where Costello thinks he is getting stage directions from Abbott and the "feathers in the cake" routine.
A couple of comments on "Who's on First": this is one of the funniest comedy routines ever, and you can be easily amused just by reading it. What makes it so great in the hands of Abbott and Costello is their ability to stay in character while doing it. Throughout the routine Abbott cannot understand why Costello doesn't get what he is saying, and Abbott tries many times, in vain, to figure out the names of the players. The routine seems to be shot in one take, and we are the better for it. Watch it many times and pay attention to only Abbott or Costello and you'll get what I mean about them always staying in character. They rarely look at the audience, the continue their thoughts (as their characters) and the fact that neither of them understands why the other is not making sense is what makes this work.
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