7.3/10
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51 user 20 critic

Buck Privates (1941)

Passed | | Comedy, Musical, War | 31 January 1941 (USA)
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Two sidewalk salesman enlist in the army in order to avoid jail, only to find that their drill instructor is the police officer who tried having them imprisoned.

Director:

Arthur Lubin

Writers:

Arthur T. Horman (original screen play), John Grant (special material for Abbott and Costello)
Reviews
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Bud Abbott ... Slicker Smith
Lou Costello ... Herbie Brown
Lee Bowman ... Randolph Parker III
Jane Frazee ... Judy Gray
Alan Curtis ... Bob Martin
Nat Pendleton ... Sgt. Michael Collins
The Andrews Sisters ... The Andrews Sisters
Laverne Andrews Laverne Andrews ... Laverne Andrews
Maxene Andrews Maxene Andrews ... Maxene Andrews
Patty Andrews Patty Andrews ... Patty Andrews
Samuel S. Hinds ... Major General Emerson
Harry Strang ... Sgt. Callahan
Nella Walker ... Mrs. Parker II
Leonard Elliott Leonard Elliott ... Henry
Shemp Howard ... Chef
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Storyline

Bud and Lou enlist in the army in order to escape being hauled off to jail, and soon find themselves in basic training. 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 Alfred Jingle

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The screen goes wacky in khaki as the newest comedy sensations...and the song-sational creators of boogie-woogie rhythm get caught in the draft and blow into camp with the merriest military musicals (original herald) See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Musical | War

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 January 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ordinário, Marche! See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$180,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$4,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Received Academy Award Nominations for Best Song ("Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy") and Best Score. See more »

Goofs

In the song "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," during Patty Andrews' solo, she claps her hands at the end of the line, "He can't blow a note 'til the base and guitar's playing with him," but the slap sound effect misses her gesture by full beat. See more »

Quotes

Herbie Brown: What time is it?
Slicker Smith: None of your business!
[completely ad-libbed during the drill routine. Abbott didn't know it was coming but delivered his response flawlessly]
See more »

Connections

Followed by Buck Privates Come Home (1947) See more »

Soundtracks

You're In The Army Now
(uncredited)
Music by Isham Jones
Lyrics by Tell Taylor and Ole Olsen
Played by an army band for marching recruits
Hummed by Lou Costello
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
An Optimistic Take of a Troubled Time
28 March 2004 | by lawprofSee all my reviews

Abbott and Costello's second feature, "Buck Privates," opened in January 1941. Peacetime conscription was in effect, voted by Congress in late 1940, and only planned to last for one year. Europe was at war, China was being raped (literally) by the Japanese. Americans were torn about the prospect of war-Lindbergh, a hero and a Nazi admirer, together with his America First movement urged isolationism.

"Buck Privates" walks a cautious line. No mention of the raging European war, the bombing of London, the success of German U-boats. No discussion of America's entering a war which, anyway, isn't even directly mentioned. The theme was high-spirited patriotism and preparation. With the Andrew Sisters, Abbott and Costello provide a light-hearted view of conscription and basic training. It almost seems like a Boy Scout experience. (I don't recall Basic Training at Fort Dix in 1965 as being any fun.)

Petty con artists, the duo mistakenly join the Army while trying to evade local police. The cop chasing them winds up as their company noncom. A rich young man and his former and now very resentful working class chauffeur are not only in the same company with the comedians, they're vying for a pretty girl who seems attracted to both. A common formula for movies.

The film tracks the transformation of average young American men from all over the country who share two qualities: they're happy to serve and they're all Caucasian.

With some film from the Louisiana maneuvers, at the time the largest combat training exercise in Army history, the thin and predictable plot develops to the singing/marching end as the now ready recruits prepare to take their places in line units.

Propaganda? Well, Hollywood was starting to get on the patriotic bandwagon but cautiously. No one gets hurt in this film worse than receiving a punch in a barracks brawl or during a prize fight.

Abbott and Costello became picture palace luminaries with this still funny but unsophisticated look at Army life. With tickets costing, usually, two bits "Buck Privates" grossed $4 million, a remarkable box office take for the time. The film drew an Oscar nomination for the Andrews Sisters and their "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" number, a huge hit.

"Buck Privates" is an interesting look at Hollywood's careful treatment of a politically sensitive issue, conscription and the path to war. It showcases two of America's funniest comedians in a series of give-and-take dialogues that became the hallmark of their collaboration. Their routines remain very funny more than six decades later.

8/10 (for its type and time).


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