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BUCK PRIVATES (1941)

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Discussion before

In only their second picture, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello moved into star billing for this service comedy, which became Universal’s highest grosser at that time. The duo play a pair of sidewalk salesmen who accidentally enlist in the military while trying to evade a tough cop (Nat Pendleton). When they get to training camp, Pendleton turns out to be their drill instructor. There is also a romantic triangle involving a playboy and his valet who are in love with the same woman. However, after a few more films Universal realized their team, which became the nation’s top box-office draw in 1942, didn’t need any insurance with a romantic angle. Abbott and Costello improvised most of their lines, drawing on material they had developed performing in burlesque. The comic drill routine was supposed to be only two and a half minutes long, but they doubled the running time by adding bits they had been performing on stage for three years. Sequences featuring the duo were shot using two to three cameras working simultaneously in order to capture their spontaneity. The picture featured music from the Andrews Sisters introducing the Oscar-nominated song “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B.” (d. Arthur Lubin, 84m, DCP)

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