Lost in Alaska (1952) Poster

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Elementary slapstick
gridoon22 March 2007
Abbott: "Miss McGillicuddy, you look charming today. Did you do something to your hair?"

Costello: "Yeah, she put it on her head"!

"Lost in Alaska" does have some inspired moments, and most of them are in the first half, like the "sleeping in 2-hour shifts" routine, or Costello's response to a sign that says "Use the axe only in case of fire" ("Got a match?"). But when A&C actually do get Lost in Alaska, the comedy gets largely reduced to elementary, childish slapstick (Costello falling down on the snow a lot, etc). I did laugh a couple of times, but overall the film is pretty tiresome, despite its short running time. (**)
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A&C and the Sad Sack Sourdough
bkoganbing17 September 2010
The creative juices at Universal were grinding to a halt when Abbott and Costello made Lost In Alaska. The film is obviously taken from the classic Road To Utopia that Bing and Bob did at Paramount a few years back.

The Dottie Lamour role in this film went to Mitzi Green, but the boys aren't fighting over here. She's the squeeze of Tom Ewell a poor sad sack sourdough who wants to kill himself because she gave him in the air. Bud and Lou begin the film as volunteer firemen in San Francisco who save Ewell from drowning himself though Costello nearly goes down in the effort. Then they accompany Ewell to Alaska to maybe get a share of his gold if they can straighten his love life out.

Ewell's a popular guy in Skagway, everyone wants to see him dead because of his strike. Keeping him alive is a full time job for Bud and Lou.

The best routine in the film is Bud putting one over on Lou when they agree to take one hour shifts keeping tabs on Ewell. Bud sleeps for an hour then Lou wakes him, but Bud just puts the clock ahead an hour and then wakes Lou after about a few seconds. Poor Costello can't figure out why he's so drowsy. I wish the rest of the film were as good.

Universal no longer was being kept alive by Abbott&Costello, their box office was assured by a crop of new leading men like Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, and Jeff Chandler. The quality of their films declined in the Fifties and Lost In Alaska is an example of same.
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To describe this film, just quote the man behind the dog sled with a whip, "Mush!"
mark.waltz7 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
If you want to see a truly great comedy about life way up north, take in Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in "Road to Utopia" which tells basically the same story as this but through an adult point of view, not the juvenile manner in which Abbott and Costello do with this slapstick farce. I guess Hollywood assumed that Alaska was overloaded with gold because practically every film of the golden age surrounded quests for those yellow rocks. The film opens with Bud and Lou saving suicidal Tom Ewell from drowning himself and their efforts over the course of a night to keep him from repeating it. Bud cruelly arranges for each of them to take two-hour shifts to keep an eye on Ewell, then after a minute during his shift, changes the clock to make Lou think that 2 hours have gone by. This mean-spirited and selfish gag is topped by his telling Lou to go pick up Ewell's belongings so they can head up to Alaska to lay claim to his gold and reunite him with the woman he had tried to commit suicide over.

Mitzi Green, the child comic singer of the early 1930's, plays the saloon singer whom Ewell had been engaged to, dumping him over his violent jealousies. It appears that she is in cahoots with a local lawman (Bruce Cabot) to get their hands on the location of the gold mine which means marrying him then having him killed so, as his widow, she will inherit it and split it all down the middle with Cabot. Green is obviously trying to emulate Dietrich in "Destry Rides Again", and while she belts her songs with gusto, she is as close to Dietrich as Minerva Urecal (who has a funny cameo as Bud and Lou's San Francisco landlady) is. There are some funny moments, including Lou's efforts to fish with interference from a playful seal (whom Lou thinks is some kind of dog) and another where he becomes a human bridge. Overall, however, it's pretty juvenile, giving the indication that over a decade into their film teaming, Abbott and Costello and their bevy of writers were running out of ideas.
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Truth is, it's just poor fodder as their star begins to dim.
hitchcockthelegend4 March 2008
Abbott and Costello's 50s offerings do nothing other than make you hanker for the halcyon days of the 40s where their best efforts are to be found. Sure there are a couple of decent films in the 50s such as Meet Jekyll/Hyde & The Mummy, but in the main you sense the boys are tired, you sense that the once glowing genius is a shadow of its former self, we sense right because it's true, never more so proved than with this barely average piece.

There are a couple of decent scenes in here, and sure enough the pratfalling antics off Costello will raise a smile, but the writing doesn't give them much to work with, the co stars are suitably bored with the plot, and the biggest crime of all is that we don't get a remotely mirthful ending to save the picture.

5/10 out of loyalty to a couple of comic geniuses going thru the motions, oh and a crab that stole the film.
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Not one of their best!
Russell Dodd14 July 1999
Abbott and Costello, who are firemen in the 1890s save life of Alaskan suicidal millionaire 'nugget' Joe from drowning himself.( An idea from Chaplin's City lights perhaps?). His girl has told him she wants out. (How he ended up in San Fransisco from Alaska though is a mystery). They take him back to their place for him to stay the night. The morning after (after a lenthy routine which sees Abbott con Costello out of his night's sleep)Joe receives a letter from his love, Rosette stating she wants him back. In gratitude, he gives A+C the gold he has on him.

At the bank, 2 men tell them that a gold prospector was found murdered last night and the police suspect 2 volunteer firemen. They find Joe on his boat and tell him that the police think they murderd him. Naturally this cheers Joe up and sends him into hysterics.(!) They ask him to come down the station to set the record straight but he can't hear them properly as the whistles from the boat are to loud. It's to late anyhow as the boat has set sail taking them all to Alaska! When they arrive it turns out that a lot of people want Joe dead(including himself again when he finds out that Rosette didn't write the note) and it's A+C's job to keep him alive as they want to take him home to prove he's still alive. It turns out that Joe has wrote a will which leaves his £2 million fortune to his 'buddies' when he dies and they are all trying to bump him off. It turns out Mr Stillman, who owns the saloon, wrote the letter and asks Lucette to marry Joe so she becomes his only heir then he'll bump him off and then they split the gold...

Bad Abbott and Costello vehicle makes no use of their talents. Strange scenes including one which has the boys trying to cheer up Nugget Joe and do the routine they did 'at the fireman's ball'. 3 terrible 'jokes' occur and you don't know whether they are supposed to be funny or not. Nugget Joe doesn't laugh and who can blame him? The 2 songs are actually quite good and the actors aren't bad either. The script and budget lets the film down. The peculiar finale isn't funny at all and when the film finishes the viewer can't help but feel there's something missing.

If you want to see Abbott and Costello as they were in the 50s, watch one of their hilarious TV shows instead.
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Abbott and Costello totally adrift!
uds37 November 2003
Known pretty much everywhere outside the US as ABBOTT AND COSTELLO LOST IN ALASKA this just never gels. Sub-standard, both from a comedic viewpoint and in production values. The boys never look comfortable.

Flimsy tale of a couple of New York firemen in the late 1890's who inadvertently "rescue" a suicidal prospector and through circumstance, find themselves heading back to Alaska with him, when they have a more pressing need to get back to San Francisco, to allay suspicions that they have actually murdered him.

For the most part, it just AIN'T funny. No more so than the strained and diabolically stupid ending. Really, for non-thinking A & C diehards!
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Make that 7.5!
JohnHowardReid7 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Copyright 24 June 1952 by Universal Pictures Co., Inc. A Universal- International Picture. U.S. release: August 1952. No New York opening. U.K. release through General Film Distributors: 6 October 1952. Australian release: 28 November 1952. 8 reels. 76 minutes.


SYNOPSIS: Two firemen become involved with a group of killers when they follow a wealthy prospector to Alaska in 1898.

NOTES: Child star Mitzi Green's first adult role, and her second last film appearance. "Bloodhounds of Broadway" (1952) was her last.

COMMENT: In view of its bad reputation, this entry came across as a surprisingly amusing A&C comedy. The team's usual writer, John Grant, may not be credited on this one, but he is certainly present in spirit, for the boys go through some mighty familiar routines, including a reprise of the squirting oyster from "The Naughty Nineties" (1945) which was also directed by Jean Yarbrough.

Admittedly, our boys are below their best, and director Yarbrough seems equally uninspired. But the film is well produced. The Klondike settings are quite elaborately realized.

I also like the film because some curious people are in it, including Tom Ewell as the love-sick schnook (much the same type of role in fact he was later to play with such acclaim in "The Seven Year Itch"); Mitzi Green, the former child star of such classics as "Tom Sawyer" (1930), "Skippy" (1931) and "Huckleberry Finn" (1931), making a comeback after a screen absence of eighteen years. (Although she's handed a couple of songs, she makes little impression, alas!).

Bruce Cabot, always one of my favorite character players, can particularly be trusted for a colorful study in villainy; and adding to the histrionic fun are a fine array of other cameo players including Jack Ingram, Emory Parnell, Minerva Urecal and Billy Wayne.
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They forgot to make it funny...
MartinHafer24 August 2009
I saw that one reviewer felt like the studio and Abbott and Costello just didn't care when they made this film and I am inclined to agree. The problem is that the film was painfully unfunny--and had one of the limpest endings I've ever seen. Maybe I was expecting too much, but a comedy should make you laugh and be entertaining.

In the only funny moments in the film, Bud and Lou rescue a man who is bent on killing himself (Tom Ewell). It seems that his lady love has rejected him and so he has no reason to live. In addition, when Bud and Lou take this guy back to Alaska, everyone seems to be trying to kill their new friend to get his gold. This humor was pretty dark and I liked it, but it really didn't go far enough and probably wouldn't appeal to most people. Sadly, however, this is about as funny as it got. Once the plot was established, too much time was spent running about an obvious fake set in obviously fake snow doing things that, frankly, make no sense and weren't funny. Fake looking crabs, a guy in a polar bear suit and the like made this a film where it was obvious that no one particularly cared if any of this mess makes sense. To make things worse, the ending is just horrible--unfunny, illogical and unsatisfying.

While this is not the worst Abbott and Costello film, it is close. You can do better.
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Nugget Joe is the best part
utgard1419 February 2014
Abbott and Costello play two volunteer firemen who save the life of suicidal prospector Nugget Joe (Tom Ewell), only to find themselves accused of his murder. Joe heads back to Alaska for his girlfriend and the boys tag along. They soon find everybody wants Nugget Joe dead and they have to keep him alive so they can prove their innocence. Tom Ewell is great as Nugget Joe. His constant suicide attempts are the funniest bits in the movie. This is a rare case of a supporting actor outshining Bud and Lou. Bruce Cabot plays the villain. Mitzi Green is a forgettable leading lady. Most of the funny stuff is early in the movie. Once they get to Alaska, it's not as good.
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"If you think two million dollars is gonna make any difference to me..., I think so."
classicsoncall13 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I'll have to go with the consensus of reviewers here on IMDb and agree this was not one of Abbott and Costello's finer efforts. And yet, and yet, when I add this title to the list of A&C movies I've watched and reviewed, and sort them in IMDb rating order, it comes out #14 out of thirty one films (so far). So a little bit of a contradiction there, which might mean only the critical viewers showed up to make comments.

The story is better in the first half with it's set up of George Bell (Costello) and Tom Watson (Abbott) hooking up with a sullen Nugget Joe McDermott (Tom Ewell) contemplating suicide over a saloon gal (Mitzi Green) he can't win over to marry him. But there's plenty of takers who want to kill him themselves up in Skagway, where Joe put away a whole slew of outlaws when he was a former sheriff. When it's revealed that Joe has a two million dollar inheritance in gold besides, it ups the ante for the number of gunmen who want to see him dead.

There are a few good bits here, like Bud's tampering with an alarm clock to get some extra sleep time at his partner's expense, and the roulette wheel scene in which Lou wins and loses a fortune without ever knowing it. But there's also a recycled routine using a plate of water-squirting whale blubber. Movie fans of the era must have gotten delight out of goofy stuff like that, as the boys used a similar bit in 1947's "The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap" using a frog in a soup bowl, and later replacing the frog with a fish in 1950's "Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion". It must have worked for a while, but by this time it comes across as pretty corny.

Looking for a way out of the story, the film makers ended things kind of abruptly with a huge question mark. When all of Nugget Joe's gold sinks on a dog sled, baddie Jake Stillman (Bruce Cabot) winds up throwing a big wedding party for Joe and Rosette, who Jake tried to conspire with to take Joe out of the picture from the outset. With a little thought I think the writers could have come up with something that made more sense, but it appears they didn't even try.

One saving grace, and only because he's a personal favorite, Iron Eyes Cody makes an appearance in the story as Mukaluk Eskimo chief Canook. He looked the part, as he always did portraying a Native American in Western movies, but did you know he was really Italian? Yet he devoted his life to Native American causes, living his own life in all respects as an American Indian. I know, I found it hard to believe too.
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Lost in blandness
weezeralfalfa17 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I'm surprised at the relatively high(7.2) mean rating given this subpar Abbott and Costello(A&C) offering. At this moment, only 2 out of 11 reviewers give it a thumbs up, and I won't add to that total. This is the first A&C 'comedy' I've seen where I couldn't wait for it to finish, and what a pathetic finish!

It begins with 2 off-duty San Francisco firemen, at night, trying to save a man who jumped into the harbor, evidently as a suicide(they guess). Lou , who can't swim worth a lick, jumps in and lands on a motor boat, which promptly splits in half and sinks. Abbott tries to rescue Lou, but the rope he throws goes over his head and forms a noose around his neck, nearly strangling him. The next night, Abbott says they must sleep in 2 hr shifts to keep an eye on 'Nugget' Joe, who gave them a small bag of gold for their trouble. But Abbott cheats, turning the clock up 2 hrs. each time it was his turn to stand watch.

Later, A&C find they are wanted for the murder of Joe, since no one has seen Joe lately(he's been in their apt.).The captain of a boat going to Alaska delivers a letter to Joe saying that his girlfriend in Skagway is lonesome for him(Actually, the letter was written by a male associate, and is untrue). Thus, Joe arranges for tickets for the 3 to Skagway, as the ship is about ready to leave. Thus, Joe says he doesn't have time to go to the police and show he's alive.

When they get to Skagway, seems many people want to shoot Joe, as he used to be a 'hanging judge'. Fortunately, they are remarkably poor shots. I will let you see the remainder of the film for yourselves, if you wish. I don't understand how they got from Skagway to Eskimo territory, with igloos, via dogsled.
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Lost Again.
AaronCapenBanner27 October 2013
Abbott & Costello play Tom Watson & George Bell, two volunteer firemen in 1890's San Francisco who rescue a suicidal gold prospector('Nugget' Joe McDermott, played by Tom Ewell) from drowning. Unfortunately, they are then mistakenly believed to have been his murderers, so accompany him back to Alaska in search of his gold, and his girl. Upon arrival, they are dismayed to learn that everyone wants Joe dead, and so end up in the tundra, where they try to survive assassins and the elements... Another weak comedy from the team has a few good comedic bits scattered about, but otherwise is not that funny, with awful songs and indifferent handling. Nothing golden here.
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