Site icon Abbott and Costello – Who's on First?

Buck Privates

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in Buck Privates - Universal 100th anniversary collectors edition - swing it

Abbott and Costello in  Buck Privates(1941), starring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, the Andrews Sisters, Shemp Howard

Buck Privates,  starring  Bud Abbott and  Lou Costello, is the first movie that starred the comedy duo. In many ways, it is their funniest. In a nutshell,  Abbott and Costello are small-time con men who try to escape a police officer …. Only to enlist in the Army by mistake. Who turns out to be their drill instructor? None other than the police officer that they were trying to escape. The film contains some of their funniest moments. Including  Lou Costello becoming hopelessly confused during a drill  – it must be seen to be appreciated.

Other characters include  Shemp Howard  (in a  pre-Three Stooges role) and the Andrews Sisters, singing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” among others. A very patriotic film, based in America shortly before the U.S.A. entered World War II (1941).   Some of their best routines are found here, such as the classic you’re 40, she’s 10, and  Lou Costello explaining to Bud Abbott that 28 divided by 7 is 13 — a hilarious routine, that’s worth its’€™ weight in gold.

Editorial review of Abbott and Costello in Buck Privates (1941), starring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, the Andrews Sisters, courtesy of

Universal Studios hit box-office gold when they drafted vaudeville comedians and radio stars Bud Abbott and Lou Costello and turned them into one of the most successful screen teams of the 1940s and 1950s. After a tryout as supporting characters in the musical  One Night in the Tropics, they starred in  Buck Privates as con artists who accidentally enlist while hiding out from New York street cop Nat Pendleton.

Naturally he winds up their drill sergeant and comic foil as they wreak havoc on the armed forces. It’s vaudeville in fatigues, with the bare bones of a story provided by spoiled millionaire playboy Lee Bowman, his strapping All-American former chauffeur Alan Curtis, and the girl-next-door they both pursue, Jane Frazee. The lackluster subplot is directed with little verve by Arthur Lubin, and the film’s energy comes completely from the snappy by-play of the comedians and Costello’€™s flustered double takes and jumpy physical comedy (including a hilarious rifle drill in which the out-of-step soldier marches to the direction of a different compass).

The Andrews Sisters sing “You’re a Lucky Fellow, Mr.  Smith” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” among others, and future Stooge Shemp Howard shows where the “mess” in mess hall comes from as a cook on the receiving end of Costello’s KP tomfoolery. This modest comedy became a smash hit and made  Abbott and Costello Universal’s most valuable commodity, prompting a quick follow-up with another peacetime armed forces comedy,  In the Navy  .–Sean Axmaker  –This text refers to the DVD edition.

Trivia about Abbott and Costello’s  Buck Privates:

Abbott and Costello routines in  Buck Privates:


Cast of characters

Additional cast

Exit mobile version