Two ex-soldiers return from overseas--one of them having smuggled into the country a French orphan girl he has become attached to. They wind up running into their old sergeant--who hates ...
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Two ex-soldiers return from overseas--one of them having smuggled into the country a French orphan girl he has become attached to. They wind up running into their old sergeant--who hates them--and getting involved with a race-car builder who's trying to find backers for a new midget racer he's building. Written by
Lou Costello drives through the back wall of a movie theater bearing a poster for a fictional film, "Abbott and Costello in 'Romeo Junior'". Footage of Costello, Bud Abbott and Betty Alexander in Shakespearean costumes was shot to be shown on the theater screen but was not used. See more »
BUCK PRIVATES COME HOME (Universal-International, 1947), directed by Charles T. Barton, reunites the comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in a sequel to the film that made them instant sensations, that being BUCK PRIVATES (1941). In the original premise, they played a couple of street merchants selling neckties to suckers on Times Square, only to be chased about by Mike Collins (Nat Pendleton), a cop, into a recruiting office where the two unwittingly sign up as army buck privates, with Collins, already enlisted, assigned as their sergeant. Along the way they encounter two guys (Lee Bowman and Alan Curtis) in love with the same girl (Jane Frazee), with musical interludes supplied by the Andrews Sisters. While the supporting players and specialty acts don't appear this time around, Nat Pendleton does, resuming where he left off six years before, chasing after his former buck privates who have come home for more mishaps.
Following the current movie trend revolving around returning war veterans made famous by Samuel Goldwyn's THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946), "Slicker" Smith and Herbie Brown (Abbott and Costello) are first presented through flashback sequences and narration taken from BUCK PRIVATES, including the memorable drill routine, before shifting to present time with them and crew on a vessel bound for the states. With the war in Europe behind them, they have one problem, Herbie has smuggled Yvonne LeBrec (Beverly Simmons), a little French orphan girl hidden inside his duffel bag. Although Herbie's intentions in adopting the child are honorable, she must to be sent back on the next boat. Held for the immigration authorities, Evey is left under the care of army nurse, Sylvia Hunter (Joan Fulton). Evey cleverly breaks away from the authorities into the guardianship of Slicker and Herbie again, whom she has located peddling ties on their old corner, and saving them from being arrested by their former sergeant, Mike Collins (Nat Pendleton), now back on the the police force in his old beat. Unable to return to their apartment, they take up residence with Sylvia, with Evie sharing room with her, Slicker sleeping in bathtub and Herbie on clothes line outside the fire escape. They soon acquire jobs assisting Bill Gregory (Tom Brown), Sylvia's boyfriend, retrieve his midget race car being held at Mulrooney's Garage on an $8,000 debt. Problems arise for Slicker and Herbie with Collins hot on their trail to return Evey to immigration, and getting demoted by his captain (Donald MacBride) each time the boys outwit him.
As entertaining as BUCK PRIVATES was, and remains, BUCK PRIVATES COME HOME is every bit as funny as the original. Aside from Abbott and Costello routines worked well into the plot, Costello demonstrates his ability as a fine fine actor when allowed to become serious, particularly where telling his sergeant how wrong it would be to send Evey back to France, and another where the former army men are singing happily to "We're Coming Home" while Costello's Herbie, missing the child after being taken away, sits sadly alone on his cot. This doesn't take away from the comic character Costello has created, especially in a scene that follows in the Fort Dix Separation Center where he encounters a recruiting officer in a "Keep your shirt on/ take it off" routine, then asking him "Is your name Abbott?" Costello also takes the spotlight in the race car sequence that ranks one of the funniest climatic scenes ever captured on film, followed by another "in joke" thrown in where Herbie unwittingly drives the race car through a billboard outside a building that reads "Abbott and Costello in 'Romeo and Juliet'" Much of the team's encounters with Mike the cop in BUCK PRIVATES COME HOME apparently serves as a dress rehearsal for their television series "The Abbott and Costello Show" (1952-54) with the boys being harassed by another Mike the Cop, this time enacted by Gordon Jones.
Beverly Simmons, the little girl who plays Evey, is certainly a charmer, even when disguised as a little boy. She might have served as Universal's answer to MGM's current child star, Margaret O'Brien, but with only few prior film roles to her credit, Simmons' career never expanded as far as this edition to BUCK PRIVATES, with this being the only film for which she appears to be in circulation in later years, ranging from commercial television dating back to the 1960s, to home video and broadcasts on cable TV's the Disney Channel (1990s), and American Movie Classics (2001-02).
It's a wonder how many script revisions and unused footage were made before coming up with the final result to what becomes of the buck privates after coming home from the war. The result is hilarious. (***).
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