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Keep ‘Em Flying (1941)

Keep 'em Flying - Lou Costello, Bud Abbott

Movie review of Abbott and Costello’s 1941 Air Force comedy, Keep ‘Em Flying, co-starring Martha Raye & Dick Foran

Abbott and Costello in Keep ’em Flying (1941) starring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Martha Raye

Lou Costello on the wing of a biplane in Keep 'Em Flying

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello play two carnival workers who join the Army Air Corps with their barnstorming stunt pilot friend. Abbott and Costello and their pal swear off women … Until a beautiful singer joins the USO, which begins a very unusual love triangle. Martha Raye plays the part of twin sisters, one shy and demure, and the other outgoing and earthy. This leads to one of their most famous routines, Turkey Sandwich and a Cup of Coffee. It’s hilarious, and one of the high points of the movie.

Comedy Highlights

  • At the carnival, Bud demonstrates the pitching dummy – and Lou keeps getting hit.
  • Turkey Sandwich and a Cup of Coffee routine with the twin waitresses.
  • Lou distracting someone with an annoying phone call — but because there’s a wall separating them, neither realizes that the fellow at the other phone is the one frustrating him!
  • Lou riding an out of control torpedo! And Bud joins him!
  • Bud and Lou unintentionally going up in a plane. Which neither knows how to fly!
  • At the end, Bud and Lou going up in a plane to “help” their friend. And poor Lou gets blown away in the end!

Funny movie quotes from Abbot and Costello’s Keep ’em Flying:

Bud Abbott: No, you don’t want to drink. Remember, every time you go into a barroom, the Devil goes in with you.
Lou Costello: If he does, he buys his own drink.

Cast of characters


  • Let’s Keep ‘Em Flying (1941)
  • I’m Getting Sentimental Over You
    • Music by George Bassman
    • Lyrics by Ned Washington
    • Sung by Carol Bruce (uncredited) at the Manila Club
  • Pig Foot Pete (1941)
    • Lyrics by Don Raye
    • Music by Gene de Paul
    • Sung by Martha Raye (uncredited) and The Six Hits (uncredited) in the USO Hall
  • Reveille
    • Traditional
    • Played by a buglar to awaken the cadets
  • The Boy With the Wistful Eyes (1941)
    • Lyrics by Don Raye
    • Music by Gene de Paul
    • Sung by Martha Raye (uncredited), Carol Bruce (uncredited) and The Six Hits (uncredited), in the tunnel of love

Trivia about Abbott and Costello’s Keep ’em Flying:

  • This was originally planned for production after Ride ‘Em Cowboy (1936). The huge success of the previous service comedies, Buck Privates (1940) and In the Navy (1940), caused Universal to produce this first. The War Department also announced a recruitment campaign called “Keep ’em Flying Week” which Universal could use as a patriotic tie-in.
  • The original trailer was actually a one-reel recruitment short. It ran about 9 minutes, for the Army Air Corps which included clips from this film.
  • For the torpedo chase, Lou did his shots in front of a rear projection screen. For the long shots, it’s Pat Costello, Lou’s brother, doubling Lou for the stunts.

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