After seeing "Buck Privates" at Loew's State this corner is torn between apprehension and encouragement. If a pair of mental bindlestiffs like Abbott and Costello can pass muster, where, pray, is our first line of defense? On the other hand, any foolish notions that training for war is basically a grim business have been largely dispelled. If the real thing is at all like this preview of Army life—with the Messrs. A & C dropping gags once a minute and the Andrews Sisters crooning patriotic boogie-woogie airs—well, it's going to be a merry war, folks. For "Buck Privates" is an hour and a half of uproarious monkeyshines.
Army humor isn't apt to be subtle and neither are Abbott and Costello. Their antics have as much innuendo as a 1,000-pound bomb but nearly as much explosive force. As a pair of street-corner shills who sign up for a bingo game and find themselves in the Army instead they are alarmingly unmilitary. Waiting in line for sundry injections, they hawk assorted neckties; when bellows-chested Nat Pendleton, as top sergeant, takes Costello to task for playing a radio in the middle of the night Costello bleats for his mama; when Costello essays the arms drill even the sergeant becomes confused.
Somewhere amid all this nonsense there is a story of sorts. Dismiss it. The important and hilarious thing is that Costello is just as innocently cherubic as ever, that Abbott is still his Tenth Avenue Svengali. The songs, especially "You're a Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith," should cause a noticeable increase in new volunteers, and the Andrews Sisters do hectic things with a tune. They're good. But please, Sergeant, even when it's good we don't like agony singing.
BUCK PRIVATES; original screen play by Arthur T. Horman; directed by Arthur Lubin for Universal.
Randolph Parker 3d . . . . . Lee Bowman
Bob Martin . . . . . Alan Curtis
Slicker Smith . . . . . Bud Abbott
Herbie Brown . . . . . Lou Costello
Patty . . . . . The Andrews Sisters
Judy Gray . . . . . Jane Frazee
Sergeant Michael Collins . . . . . Nat Pendleton
Major Gen. Emerson . . . . . Samuel S. Hinds
Sergeant Callahan . . . . . Harry Strang
Mrs. Parker 2d . . . . . Nella Walker
Henry . . . . . Leonard Elliott
Chef . . . . . Shemp Howard
Announcer . . . . . Mike Frankovitch
Miss Durling . . . . . Dora Clement