Abbott and Costello on the Home Front

A Critical Study of the Wartime Films


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About the Book

As two of the most popular entertainers of the mid-century film industry, comic greats Bud Abbott and Lou Costello offered an essential balm to the American public following the sorrows of the Great Depression and during the trauma of World War II. This is the first book to focus in detail on the immensely popular wartime films of Abbott and Costello, discussing the production, content, and reception of 18 films within the context of wartime events on the home front and abroad. The films covered include the service comedies Buck Privates, In the Navy, and Keep ’Em Flying; more mainstream comic relief films such as Pardon My Sarong and Who Done It?; and post-war experiments such as Little Giant and The Time of Their Lives. More than 120 stills and lobby cards from the author’s personal collection illustrate the text, including many showing outtakes or deleted scenes.

About the Author(s)

Scott Allen Nollen was educated in film and history at the University of Iowa. He has written and edited more than 40 books on the history of film, literature and music.

Bibliographic Details

Scott Allen Nollen
Foreword by Chris Costello
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 222
Bibliographic Info: 121 photos, appendix, notes, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019 [2009]
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7820-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5325-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword by Chris Costello      1
Preface      3
Introduction      5

1. New Jersey Boys Make Good      7
2. On the Land and On the Sea: Buck Privates (1941) and In the Navy (1941)      12
3. Money in a Moose Head: Hold That Ghost (1941)      27
4. In the Air Corps: Keep ’Em Flying (1941)      34
5. B Western Bunk: Ride ’Em Cowboy (1942)      42
6. The Nazis of MGM: Rio Rita (1942)      49
7. Widespread Comic Relief: Pardon My Sarong (1942) and Who Done It? (1942)      56
8. Stallions and Skaters: It Ain’t Hay (1943) and Hit the Ice (1943)      72
9. Sickness and Slapstick: Lost in a Harem (1944)      86
10. Clique and Campus: In Society (1944) and Here Come the Co-eds (1945)      94
11. Who’s in Uncle Tom’s Cabin? The Naughty Nineties (1945)      106
12. Lucy and Lou: Abbott and Costello in Hollywood (1945)      113
13. Postwar Experiments: Little Giant (1946) and The Time of Their Lives (1946)      120
14. Back from the Front: Buck Privates Come Home (1947)      137
15. Cold War Monsters      149

Appendix: The Feature Films of Abbott and Costello      181
Chapter Notes      205
Bibliography      207
Index      209

Book Reviews & Awards

• “McFarland’s high production values are well to the fore. Scott Allen Nollen’s very informative and well-researched work is a rewarding and recommended read”—Marsh Towers

• “Highly recommended”—Argunners Magazine