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Little Giant (1946)

The Little Giant, starring Lou Costello and Bud Abbott - movie poster

Abbott and Costello in Little Giant (1946) starring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello

Little Giant was an enormous change for both Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. It is different from most of their comedies in several respects – Abbott and Costello are not a team, indeed are not even friends. Rather than relying on gags and verbal humor, it is a situational comedy, with an accent on physical humor. Although a comedy, it is much deeper than their standard comedies, with Lou Costello playing a character who tugs at your heart strings – and tugs hard.

In  Little Giant, Lou Costello plays Benny Miller, a country bumpkin who has been taking a correspondence course and, upon finishing, leaves his mom and head off for the city to make his fortune. He finds a job selling ‘Little Giant’€ vacuum cleaners for Eddie L. Morrison (a mean office manager, played to the hilt by Bud Abbott in a very unsympathetic role). Benny is a failure, until the other people at the office, making fun of Benny, convince him that he can read minds; armed with his new ‘power,’ Benny becomes a super salesman.

Sad realization

The Little Giant, starring Lou Costello and Bud Abbott - movie poster

He later realizes that the other salespeople aren’t his friends, and are mocking him, after overhearing them. He goes home, feeling himself a failure, with a bird in a wooden cage for his mother (played by Mary Gordon). On the way, he stops to help a neighbor whose mule-drawn wagon is stuck in the mud. He pushes the cart out of the mud, falling into the mud himself, as the neighbor drives off even a “thank you.” He stands up, covered in mud, holding the broken cage – the bird has escaped. It’s a tear-inducing movie moment.

Surprisingly, who should come to his rescue … Bud Abbott (in a dual role as T. S. Chandler, the cousin of the mean manager), who helps Lou to … well, you’ll need to see the movie yourself – no need to give away everything. 🙂

In summary, this is an excellent movie, highly recommend, with a box of Kleenex nearby. Just remember that it’s not a typical Abbott and Costello comedy.

Funny movie quotes from Abbott and Costello’s Little Giant

Miss Ruby Burke: What’s the matter, Benny? You’re lower than a caterpillar with fallen arches.

Benny Miller (Lou Costello): Lady, I come to sell you something you don’t want.
Woman: NO!
[slams the door on him]

Benny Miller (Lou Costello): Do you mind if I have a piece of candy while I wait on you?
Hazel Temple Morrison: Aren’t you worried you’re going to wear your teeth down to the bones?
Benny Miller (Lou Costello): What?
Hazel Temple Morrison: You ate three packages of cracker jacks, two bags of peanuts, one of those red gooey apples on a stick, and three chocolate malted milkshakes.
Benny Miller: And don’t forget the banana split, with a lot of fruit on it!

T.S. Chandler (Bud Abbott): Don’t tell me, let me guess, he took the shirt off your back.
Benny Miller (Lou Costello): Took my pants too.

Eddie Morrison (Bud Abbott): [Benny insists 7 goes into 28 13 times, Chandler has him write 7 13s on a blackboard] We’ll add these up this time.
[adds the 3’s]
Eddie Morrison (Bud Abbott): 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21. Now, if you can get 28 out of that, you have a job.
Benny Miller (Lou Costello): [adds the 1’s on the 13’s] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, plus 21 is 28.
Eddie Morrison (Bud Abbott): [defeated] You’ve got the job.

Trivia about Abbott and Costello’s Little Giant

  • Director William A. Seiter had previously directed the Marx Brothers and was able to get Margaret Dumont to do a cameo as one of Benny’s intended customers.
  • This was the first Abbott and Costello feature in which they did not play a team. The story centers on Lou Costello’s character while Bud Abbott does not appear until 16 minutes into the film. The two do not share a scene until 20 minutes into the film
  • This film was regarded as a major departure for Abbott and Costello. It was their first situation comedy. The comedy was character/situation driven rather than gag-driven.

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