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Universal Studios hit box-office gold when they drafted vaudeville comedians and radio stars Bud Abbott and Lou Costello and turned them into one of the most successful screen teams of the 1940s and 1950s. After a tryout as supporting characters in the musical One Night in the Tropics, they starred in Buck Privates as con artists who accidentally enlist while hiding out from New York street cop Nat Pendleton. Naturally he winds up their drill sergeant and comic foil as they wreak havoc on the armed forces. It's vaudeville in fatigues, with the bare bones of a story provided by spoiled millionaire playboy Lee Bowman, his strapping All-American former chauffeur Alan Curtis, and the girl-next-door they both pursue, Jane Frazee. The lackluster subplot is directed with little verve by Arthur Lubin, and the film's energy comes completely from the snappy by-play of the comedians and Costello's flustered double takes and jumpy physical comedy (including a hilarious rifle drill in which the out-of-step soldier marches to the direction of a different compass). The Andrews Sisters sing "You're a Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," among others, and future Stooge Shemp Howard shows where the "mess" in mess hall comes from as a cook on the receiving end of Costello's KP tomfoolery. This modest comedy became a smash hit and made Abbott and Costello Universal's most valuable commodity, prompting a quick follow-up with another peacetime armed forces comedy, In the Navy. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.