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 ...
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Abbott's toupee shifts noticeably during the "7 times 13 = 28" scene. (The "shift" is due to the fact that the scene was filmed after principal photography was completed. It was felt that at least one classic "routine" had to be inserted into the picture. You will notice that Lou is also heavier during this footage. Also filmed at this time was the routine with Sidney Fields, replacing a less confrontational sequence filmed with Eddy Waller.) See more »
A truly unique Abbott and Costello film that I really liked...really!
This is one of Abbott and Costello's most unusual films, as it's the first of two that made where the characters were NOT friends. In addition, Bud Abbott plays dual roles--one a nice enough guy and the other a total scum-bag! Plus, and here's the oddest part, the film is a traditional story in many ways-as both play honest-to-goodness people! As a result, it really isn't a comedy per se--as the film is not built around gags but people. Sure, there are a few laughs here and there, but that is all.
While I know that the film was a bit of a flop and many people disliked its style, I frankly liked it because it was such a departure. You see, by 1946, the team had already made 16 films in only 6 years--and all but one of them (WHO DONE IT!) followed roughly the same formula. With this formula, there was a love story, some Abbott and Costello comedy and lots of singing. As far as the love story goes, this time it actually involves Lou and a girl back home. However, there is no singing and little what anyone would consider comedy.
I think one thing that bothered people is the pathos in the film. Lou plays a nice guy who gets hurt pretty badly at times in the film. You want him to win but time and again, jerks take advantage of him. Near the very end, this hit practically epic proportions, though smartly, the film didn't stay mired too long in pathos--coming to a nice and quick resolution.
The film begins with Lou living on the farm with his Mom. He wants to make good, so he's been taking a correspondence course in salesmanship. Unfortunately, he isn't very good at it and when he goes to the big city to make his mark, he makes a mess of it. He loses his job and gets another job with the same vacuum cleaner company in another town. However, in an odd twist, his co-workers play a joke on him--convincing him he's psychic. The gag works too well, as Lou is convinced it's real. The jokes on them when he turns into an amazing salesman--setting a sales record the very next day.
As for Bud, in Los Angeles, he plays a crooked and thoroughly nasty jerk. He takes pleasure in firing Lou and it's interesting to see them working against each other instead of with each other. In his next job, Lou goes to work for Bud's cousin--played once again by Bud (with a slightly different hairdo). This time, he's more of a normal guy and confides in Lou that he can't stand his stupid cousin in L.A.! It was an interesting acting challenge for Bud--as rarely did any of his characters in other film have any depth. Here, he plays two parts and quite well. In fact, it worked out well enough that they had him do the same in the next film, THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES. Another, more practical reason they did this was because Bud and Lou were having a horrible spat at the time--and they would only play in films where they acted separately!! Fortunately for the team, the managed to patch things up for other films.
One of the only comedy routines in the film was also used in one of the team's earlier films, IN THE NAVY. This is the funny math routine where Lou explains (rather convincingly) that 7x13=21! While it is a retread, it's redone well.
Overall, while this is hated by most people, I liked the film a lot--nearly giving it a 9. Why? Originality and both Bud and Lou stretched themselves--trying new things even if the public wasn't 100% ready for THIS big a change. Maybe much of the reason I respect this film so much is that I have re-seen all the Abbott and Costello films leading up to LITTLE GIANT and it just felt like a breath of fresh air seeing such a completely original film.
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