Hey Abbott!

abbottcostelloshow01Abbott and Costello never received the critical respect they deserved in the comedy world; they were considered too low-brow. Yet, for me back when I was in Junior High School, The Abbott and Costello Show, a mainstay on New York City’s WPIX-TV channel 11, along with The Honeymooners, was must-see TV. It’s lost in my own little file cabinet of mental history how many times I watched those episodes. I do know my mother never understood the repeated viewings as she would ask over and over again, “haven’t you seen this already?” Yes, was my answer, they’re funny. She would walk away shaking her head.

abbott costello show

The show was at its best when the boys performed their classic routines which they did so many times they had it down to an artistic science. These funny sketches, going back to their days in vaudeville and burlesques, most likely would have been lost in time, but thanks to A&C have been preserved for future generations to enjoy. The routines were not original material for the duo, they were common material for many now forgotten comic teams of the day. Today, they are considered Abbott and Costello at their best. Sketches like Niagara Falls, Floogle Street, The Loafers Union, 7 X 13=28 and of course the brilliant Who’s On First? enshrined in the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame, are etched into our pop culture file cabinet. Floogle Street, Who’s on First? and others are classic bits of miscommunication which could have originated from the pen of Samuel Beckett. As for this writer, I think the world would be a sadder place without Who’s on First?

The show was blessed to have an excellent supporting cast that included Sidney Fields as the landlord, Gordon Jones as Mike the Cop, Hillary Brooke as their beautiful neighbor who always set Lou’s heart aflutter, Joe Kirk as Mr. Bacciagalupe, Joe Besser as Stinky (I’ll harm you!) and Bingo the Chimp as Bingo the Chimp. The cast also included, in eight episodes, Joan Shawlee, best known for her role as Sweet Sue in Billy Wilder’s Some Like it Hot.

Hillary-Brooke-Abbott--Costello

During these same years, WOR-TV, channel 9 was showing Abbott and Costello movies on Saturday mornings. The teams’ first feature film was One Night in the Tropics. The comedy duo, in supporting roles, quickly overshadowed the two stars, Allan Jones and Nancy Kelly stealing the film. Universal signed them up for a two-picture deal. The first film under the contact was Buck Privates which quickly became a massive hit and securely launched their screen careers. The film was so popular Universal pumped out three more Abbott and Costello films (In the Navy, Hold that Ghost, and Keep ‘Em Flying) the same year (1941). All the films were huge hits propelling Abbott and Costello to number three that year on the list of biggest box office attractions. According to authors Bob Furmanek and Ron Palumbo (Abbott and Costello in Hollywood), the crowds were so huge the opening week of In the Navy, the Loew’s Criterion Theater on Broadway remained open until 5 A.M. to accommodate the crowds. Throughout World War II, movie audiences, looking for a few laughs to take their minds off the war, flocked to Abbott and Costello new releases consistently keeping them in the top ten in box office attractions except for 1945.

To this day, Buck Privates remains my favorite of their films. It also made me appreciate the talent of the Andrew Sisters whose musical numbers (Boogie, Woogie Bugle Boy, Apple Blossom Time and Bounce Me Brother With A Solid Four) contributed nicely to the film (1), followed by Hold That Ghost, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, and Buck Privates Come Home. As the years went by, the quality of their films spiraled downward except for when they recreated those classic burlesque bits

Notes:

(1) The Andrew Sisters also appeared in Abbott and Costello’s nest two films, In the Navy and Hold That Ghost.

.

Advertisements

14 comments on “Hey Abbott!

  1. gary loggins says:

    Still funny after all these years. No matter how many times I watch them do “Who’s On First?”, it sends me into convulsions of laughter!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed this very much. Brought me back to the rare days when the show would air around these parts. Mothers are often confounded by their sons. It’s part of the reason we love them so much.

    Funnily enough, the other day I passed the hubby in the living room and he said “Niagara Falls” and we were off. We’re the cool parents!

    Liked by 1 person

    • John Greco says:

      Thanks Paddy! I know a lot of people watch something once and do not care to see it again (like us film freaks), that was my mother. It was “you saw that why are you wasting your time” My wife is the same, she rarely wants to see something she has already seen.

      Like

  3. Every afternoon! Could never get enough of Stinky, Mr. Fields, Hillary Brooke and, of course, Bingo. Thanks for a big smile to start the day. No analysis needed – they were just flat out funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jay Kanter says:

    Most fans don’t know that Lou actually started his career in silent film in 1926

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, John for the superb Andrews Sisters clip. I love them. The Manhattan Transfer (whom I also love) owes a lot to them.
    Abbott and Costello were indeed talented, there can no educated denial of that, though they are not my cup of tea. Loved the posts though. Your writing is always a joy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • John Greco says:

      Thank you Pam. Sorry for the late reply. A couple of comments seemed to have slipped by me. Even as a teen, in the middle of my own rock and roll craze, The Andrew Sisters caught my ears and I have had a soft spot for them ever since.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. John Charet says:

    Great post 🙂 Abbott and Costello were always funny 🙂 In terms of their movies, a good number of people (at least based on my knowledge) have cited Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein as the greatest of their film comedies. What about you? I am actually in agreement with them, but that is just me 🙂

    On a side note, I just did blog entry regarding my favorite films of director Martin Scorsese and I know you are a huge fan of him just like myself. Here is the link below and keep up the great work as always 🙂

    https://cinematiccoffee.com/2018/07/24/my-favorite-martin-scorsese-films/

    Liked by 1 person

    • John Greco says:

      Most, I agree, like A&C Meet Frankenstein the best. It’s definitely one of my top favorites and was my own top pick for a long time, But these days I seem to lean toward Buck Privates. Sorry for the delayed response.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s