Buck Privates | Chicago Reader

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84 minutes

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello explode in their first starring feature (1941), a musical comedy that opens with President Roosevelt signing the peacetime draft bill. As a couple of street-corner tie salesmen who unwittingly enlist in the army, the two unload their treasure chest of polished vaudeville routines, ranging from a contentious, increasingly absurd rifle drill to brain puzzlers and shortchange scams that send Costello into a rage. They're perfectly complemented by the close-harmonizing Andrews Sisters at their peak, who entertain the troops with "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and "I'll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time." Shemp Howard supports Costello in a musical number, and Nat Pendleton (Horse Feathers, The Thin Man) makes a fine foil as the platoon's roaring drill sergeant. Arthur Lubin directed.

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