Sunday, January 1, 2012

2. IN THE NAVY (1941)

I once gave writer Stephen Jones grief for listing ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN under "M" for MEET FRANKENSTEIN in his book THE ESSENTIAL MONSTER MOVIE GUIDE, but a title like this lends his argument some weight. (Anyone who insists that movie's real title, based on its title card, should be "BUD ABBOTT LOU COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN" must then accept that the real title of this one is "BUD ABBOTT LOU COSTELLO DICK POWELL IN THE NAVY.") The comedy duo's third Universal feature, IN THE NAVY reflects the immense popularity of its predecessor BUCK PRIVATES, putting them in a different branch of the service, bringing back the Andrews Sisters, and adding the aforementioned Powell to the mix as a crooner who joins the Navy anonymously to escape impossible stardom. It also put their actual third feature, the aptly titled HOLD THAT GHOST, on hold, interrupting its production as this hasty pudding was rushed into production. A&C are already reprising and retweaking gags from earlier pictures, and it's less funny overall with less memorable songs, but it proved an even greater box office draw. On the plus side, we have Shemp Howard and an impressively overstated sequence late in the film where Costello, posing as his ship's Captain to impress Patty Andrews, runs his battleship through some inventive special effects maneuvers. Apparently the US Navy was mortified and forbade the scene, but Universal managed to keep it by presenting it as a dream sequence.

Viewed on Universal DVD.

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