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Pardon my Sarong and Who done it?.
A bit about Abbott and Costello:
Bud Abbott was born in1895 in New Jersey, USA. Surprisingly Lou Costello was born 1906 also in New Jersey, USA. They had both toured in 'Burlesque' but had only limited success until teaming up in 1936. But it wasn't until 1940 until they where signed by 'Universal' and went on to make their first movie 'Night in the Tropics'. By 1950 there Star was starting to fade.
Pardon my Sarong;
This is a typical Abbot and Costello farcical film.
With a barmy storyline and over the top characters, you just know it's going to be funny with plenty of sporadic mayhem thrown in along the way.
The boys play Agly and Wellington who are a couple of hapless and quite frankly dangerous bus drivers. One day they meet, Tommy , and decide his fun living way of life seems far more fun and once he invites them along we're off on a daft, song ridden, slapdash adventure.
The emphasis being on slap in Lou's case.
After a particularly nasty storm the three friends and Tommys girlfriend end up on an uncharted desert island where with the help of the most unconvincing 'Natives' you will ever see, they take on evil smugglers.
You can easily guess how it all ends.
The songs and routines are of their era, mid 40's and are not particularly entertaining. the sets and location must have been shot on a a shoe string.
But the laughs and jokes along the way are pure Abbott and Costello. It is they who steal every scene they are in.
Who Done it?
A murder mystery without any real mystery as the boys discover the head of their radio station has been murdered. They are soon involved in solving the murder but done in only the way they can do things, long, ardious and barmy. There is a hidden twist in the film as the killer is also a spy, enough said.
A good film and contains all of their trade marks. It delivers plenty of gags and is a standard A & C film.
All was well between the boys, as at times throughout their career together, Bud had a 60/40 split on their earnings and this had always irked Lou. Later it would surface and eventually along with the drinking and gambling and being chased by huge Tax bills, they eventually split in 1957.
Sadly Lou Costello died 2 years later in 1959. Bud Abbott however lived until 1974!
Their work will remain timeless as is the way with innocent and genuinely funny comedy.
The chaos is pure Abbott and Costello with lots of running gags and slapstick. Kids and adults alike, today, could watch it with no concerns of offence.
Bud and Lou are in the zone with plenty of slaps and puns.
They had a tendency to play out a joke, then repeat it, then repeat it whilst each time building the humour higher and higher right up till and explosive crescendo.
Whilst another ploy they utilised was to use pathos and have a slow burn to it.
Although this is a standard A & C movie it really is a hilarious and madcap romp right from the start, until the barmy ending.
Worth a watch if it comes on the TV.
Abbott & Costello were not only amongst the biggest grossing stars of the 40's but also had successful careers on Radio and TV all the way through to the end of the 50's. Even after that they still had enough popularity to have an animated series in the 60's.
Bud Abbott was the Ernie Wise/Oliver Hardy of the duo. The straight man who was the brains behind every stupid situation he talked Costello into.
Lou Costello was the funny man, the stupid imbecile who was short fat and loveable. He walked into every trap that was laid for him and never learnt.
Together they made the perfect double act and after building their name in the music halls the move to the movies was almost a foregone conclusion.
They will always be remembered for their little wordplay sketches, especially 'Who's On First' and a movie career spanning decades and more than 25 films.
Pardon My Sarong, made in early 1942, was the last of Abbott & Costello's music hall/variety films before they moved on to out and out comedy starring vehicles.
Their 'variety' movies always had them co starring with a couple of romantic leads who would always be singers, or at least sing a song or two, and had a dance act of some kind (this one has a quite amazing tap group). In essence the film maker fit a story around the mainstays of music hall entertainment... comedy, song and dance.
The story for Pardon My Sarong is very basic. Abbott and Costello play a couple of bus drivers, Algy and Wellington, in Chicago who end up driving across the country when they pick up a Hollywood star and his bevy of beauties. He is taking part in a boat race on the high seas and needs to get to the coast quickly.
Once in LA Algy and Wellington get roped in to be part of the crew, along with a feisty young woman who only wants to be on the crew to sabotage the boat so that her brother can win.
The boat, unsurprisingly with A&C on it, gets lost and the four crew members soon find themselves on an island full of cannibals and crooks.
Pardon My Sarong is not one of the best of A&Cs films, but then none of the 'music hall' series really stand up that well these days. The variety of acts are interesting to view, as is the nature of the film as a whole. Films like this are certainly of their time, made for audiences of the day and lapped up by them. The problem is by including a dance act, a couple of songs and some comedy routines you do get a very fragmented storyline, not that there is that much of one anyway!
Still even a low standard A&C movie is guaranteed to have a couple of good routines in it. This one has a fun and typical A&C one where they try and con a garage attendant out of some petrol, or at least Costello does at Abbott's behest, as usual! You know exactly how it is going to end up but the repartee between the two comedians and the attendant is so funny to watch.
PMS is still fun to watch, but then in my eyes A&C always are. The chemistry between them is openly apparent and obviously built up through years of working together. They may always be the same archetypal characters in every film but watching the lengths Abbott goes to to confuse Costello and get him into trouble always makes me smile and cheers me up.
PMS is definitely worth a watch if you fit into two categories of person:-
You are a big A&C fan and know you will enjoy pretty much anything they are in.
Or you are interested in the way movies have changed and evolved over the years. PMS is certainly a breath of fresh air from modern day movies, not better just different.
If you wanted to see just one A&C movie then this certainly wouldn't be the one I would suggest. In fact it wouldn't even be close to the top 5 even though it is fun and does have some good moments. Their later top billing comedies are much better written and have some great premises to them.
PMS was the second biggest money maker of 1942. Only the Oscar winning Mrs Miniver took more at the box office, a sure sign of the ever growing popularity of the duo.
Who Done It?, made in 1942, was the first Abbott and Costello film that didn't have any musical numbers in it or be more of a variety show movie. This time around they would stand or fall on their own abilities. Not that they had anything to worry about by 1942, because by then they were bona fide megastars. Their films up to now had had a music hall style to it, including a mix of comedy, music and dance, that had brought the crowds in in their millions.
Abbott & Costello play Chick and Mervin, two soda jerks (people who work behind the counter in a soft drink/ice cream parlour) at a radio station. They desperately want to be writers and see their jobs as the first step on the rung to getting noticed.
'The Midnight Hour' is one of the stations top shows, a mystery series loved by the listeners. The current writer is leaving and the two heroes see their chance to pitch themselves as replacements.
That night the 'Midnight Hour' show is more exciting than usual, one of the cast is murdered in the middle of the live broadcast. Everyone is shocked but Chick and Marvin leap at what fate has thrown them and, pretending to be Police Detectives, begin investigating the murder and questioning the witnesses. Of course this only leads to them getting into trouble with both the real Police, when they arrive, and the criminals.
Who Done It? Is classic Abbott & Costello, it involves the double act comedy tricks used for years and years, from before A&C right up to Morecombe and Wise and beyond. A&C are arguable bigger than any other double act of the 20th Century. They were stars in pretty much every medium and had a film career longer than most.
In this movie they take the idiot and the straight man to the highest levels. Lou is always, just always, getting into trouble, normally because of Bud. The simplest little tricks outsmart him at every turn, but he is such a loveable little guy who is as shy as he is stupid.
Who Done It? Is one of my favourites of their films. It has everything that encapsulates the duo, has a mystery element to it and they even manage to have a bit of their legendary 'Who's On First' routine in it on the radio, something which Chick and Mervin make fun of.
The short running time, 77 minutes, means that the pace never slackens up, the thrills and laughs come flying at you almost non stop.
One of the great advantages of a B&W film over a colour one, especially these days of bright lights making even night scenes look like day, is the mood it can set using shadows. A good mystery, even one that is more of a comedy like this one, can use the shadows to advantage, to enhance the anticipation of the viewer and raise a lot of tension. Who Done It? Succeeds in doing that very well indeed.
The comedy is the main part of Who Done It? Though and it still stands high on laughs even now... as long as you like quick fire routines and a good old fashioned double act.
Funnily enough though my favourite part of the movie doesn't involve those kinds of moments. It is in fact just a simple little visual trick using an illuminated light bulb hotel sign and Lou's throwing arm.
Abbott & Costello are my favourite comedy duo, not exactly sure why but they always have been since I was a child, and this is one of the best movies.
One of the downsides to so many films being made these days is how rarely good B&W movies get shown on TV. Once upon a time you could catch all sorts of great old films on BBC2 and the like, it is how I have my love of A&C and 30's detective movies, now though it is very rare to see one, even with 20 times as many channels to watch them on.