The Annotated Abbott and Costello

A Complete Viewer’s Guide to the Comedy Team and Their 38 Films


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About the Book

Abbott and Costello were the most popular comedians of the 1940s, with burlesque-inspired routines that enthralled audiences on both radio and television. Oddly, their films have not received the same level of attention from critics and writers as those of other comedy teams.
This book is a scene-by-scene, film-by-film guide to their movies, making a compelling case for their inclusion at the very top of comic artists. Featuring new research and some surprising revelations, the book introduces newcomers to the delights of this uproarious team and provides confirmed fans with the ultimate companion to their work. Also included is a foreword by John Landis, the celebrated director and Abbott and Costello devotee.

About the Author(s)

Matthew Coniam has authored or contributed to numerous books, magazines, journals and websites in Britain and America. He lives in Bath, England.

Nick Santa Maria has appeared in every form of show business except ballet. A native New Yorker, he now lives on Hutchinson Island, Florida, where he teaches film history, and is proudly one half of the faux 1930’s comedy team, Biffle and Shooster.

Bibliographic Details

Matthew Coniam and Nick Santa Maria

Foreword by John Landis
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 490
Bibliographic Info: 80 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8244-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4776-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Foreword by John Landis 1
Introduction One: The Case for Abbott and Costello 3
Introduction Two: The Art of Abbott and Costello 17
1. One Night in the Tropics (1940) 25
2. Buck Privates (1941) 33
3. In the Navy (1941) 54
4. Hold That Ghost (1941) 62
5. Keep ’Em Flying (1941) 80
6. Ride ’Em Cowboy (1942) 90
7. Rio Rita (1942) 97
8. Pardon My Sarong (1942) 106
9. Who Done It? (1942) 114
10. It Ain’t Hay (1943) 129
11. Hit the Ice (1943) 139
12. In Society and A Wave, a WAC and a Marine (1944) 149
13. Lost in a Harem (1944) and Mail Call (1944) 168
14. Here Come the Co-Eds (1945) 178
15. The Naughty Nineties (1945) 190
16. Abbott and Costello in Hollywood (1945) 201
17. Little Giant (1946) 212
18. The Time of Their Lives (1946) 222
19. Buck Privates Come Home (1947) 234
20. The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap (1947) 246
21. The Noose Hangs High (1948) 256
22. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) 265
23. Mexican Hayride (1948) 275
24. Africa Screams (1949) and 1,000 Kids and a Cop (1948) 283
25. Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer (1949) 296
26. Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion (1950) 305
27. Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951) 316
28. Comin’ Round the Mountain (1951) 327
29. Jack and the Beanstalk (1952) 336
30. Lost in Alaska (1952) 345
31. Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952) 354
32. Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953) 361
33. Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953) and Fireman Save My Child (1954) 369
34. Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops (1955) 383
35. Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955) 389
36. Dance with Me, Henry (1956) 402
37. The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock (1959) 410
38. The World of Abbott and Costello (1965) 417
Appendix I: Lou and Me 425
Appendix II: The Trials and Tribulations of Tinybud 431
Appendix III: The Ultimate Abbott and Costello Top Ten 436
Chapter Notes 457
Bibliography 473
Index 475

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Abbott and Costello are often considered afterthoughts of comedy history, but Coniam and Santa Maria believe the duo possessed an authenticity of character that their peers lacked. To that point, they’ve crafted a film-by-film guide to a career that can be divided into two periods: the 1940s war era of Buck Privates, and the monster era, encapsulated by Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein….Coniam is clearly a fan…excellent writing, perceptive commentary…cover[s] every film, and there’s much to recommend”—Library Journal

• “Coniam and Santa Maria’s loving and exhaustive look at the comedy team is overdue. Abbott and Costello’s popularity spanned seemingly every medium—theater, radio, and television (in its early years) as well as film—and the authors make a good case for the importance of the team as entertainers, not just film actors….The author’s thorough research makes this more than just the viewer’s guide the title promises…..enjoyable reading and does effectively argue for their rightful place in comedic history…recommended”—Choice

• “If you are hungry for detail and analysis of Abbott and Costello, this book was written with you in mind. Co-author Nick Santa Maria is a lifelong performer and posits that Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were underrated as actors; that’s what made their routines both funny and memorable. He builds a strong case for that premise along with his British colleague Matthew Coniam. Not only do they chart Bud and Lou’s career on screen; they break down every burlesque routine they drew upon in their feature films and subsequent TV series. At 482 pages there is little if anything left out on the subject of A&C, leaving the reader (especially a newcomer to the flock) with plenty of food for thought.”—Leonard Maltin

• “Should be on the bookshelf of every rabid film fan. …recommended…It’s great! It’s stupendous! It’s essential! You’re seriously gonna love it! What are you waiting for?…Just buy the book already!…the book reads as a conversation between two highly informed and enthusiastic Abbott and Costello fans….a truly comprehensive guide to the comedy team…if I was only allowed to keep a single reference on the team, it would be The Annotated Abbott and Costello. The authors of the new book are able to build upon prior scholarship with additional information, and they debunk a few stories that had previously been accepted as gospel. Best of all, the book is funny. This is no dry, academic text. Matthew and Nick are both very witty fellows, and their writing is peppered with jokes, puns, and humorous asides. As a result, The Annotated Abbott and Costello is the most entertaining film study you’re ever likely to read.”—It Came from the Bottom Shelf!

• “Layered and detailed…This is more than just a guide, it is quite frankly, one of the most comprehensive film study books that this reviewer has ever encountered…highly recommended”—James Neibaur

• “A comprehensive chronicle”—The Media Tourist

• “Long-overdue”—Forces of Geek