Two bumbling plumbers are hired by a socialite to fix a leak. A case of mistaken identity gets the pair an invitation to a fancy party and an entree into high society. As expected, things ... See full summary »
Lou Costello plays a country bumpkin vacuum-cleaner salesman, working for the company run by the crooked Bud Abbott. To try to keep him under his thumb, Abbott convinces Costello that he's ... See full summary »
Russ Raymond, America's number one crooner, disappears and joins the Navy under the name Tommy Halstead. Dorothy Roberts, a magazine journalist, is intent on finding out what happened to ... See full summary »
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 ... See full summary »
Two ghosts who were mistakenly branded as traitors during the Revolutionary War return to 20th century New England to retrieve a letter from George Washington which would prove their ... See full summary »
Two peanut vendors at a rodeo show get in trouble with their boss and hide out on a railroad train heading west. They get jobs as cowboys on a dude ranch, despite the fact that neither of ... See full summary »
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 »
Abbott and Costello had either run out of routines by this point or they had such fondness for their already classic ones that they reckoned it was reasonable to rehash them. They even draw their trophy chestnut Who's On First, which by the time this movie came out was so completely ancient it's amazing they don't go red. Indeed, it's acknowledged film trivia that one can hear camera operators struggling to stifle their laughter during the scene. I think there was an audience back then that was far less disdained during the studio era, moviegoers who go to laugh, jump or cry not so much at surprises or fresh revelations but at fulfilled expectations, expectations so particular that they could literally be duplicated from what they'd seen many times before.
But regardless, each time I've put myself through this emergency outing, I've laughed hard and frequently. Above and beyond the arbitrary Who's on First? centerpiece, The Naughty Nineties features the too-funny schtick where Costello sings during an audition while Abbott is hollering instructions to the crew to adjust the backdrop curtain. Costello thinks the directions are for him and he follows them, by singing higher or lower, or on one foot. It all relies on Costello's inimitable gift for physical comedy. There's also the scene where one of the wicked gambler's accomplices slips poison into his wine. He catches on, distracts her and swaps their glasses. But she does the same to him, and then they get into bluffing the swap. There is also the sketch where Costello inadvertently bakes feathers into a cake and the pieces are fed to everyone in the tavern. When they all take a bite, they end up coughing up the feathers until the entire bar is overflowing with them. Then there's the old routine where Costello and the villain mirror each other's actions, which can also be seen in the Marx Bros. classic Duck Soup. The scene where Costello tussles with a real bear, thinking that he's wrestling Abbott in a bear suit. Bears were frequently deployed in Abbott and Costello routines.
Universal was so eager to keep them in the theaters that they didn't have any principles about what class of material they played. And the one in this case is an emphatic case of floating shipwrecked debris. There are wicked gamblers and a sweet old showboat captain. They are so much superfluous baggage. This is, as usual, just an Abbott & Costello romp, with the boys giving a routine imitation of themselves in their golden days.
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