Buck Privates (1941) Movie Review

Buck Privates (1941)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler


Starring: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lee Bowman, Alan Curtis, The Andrews Sisters
Director: Arthur Lubin
Release Date: 31 January 1941
Language: English
Length: 84 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: TV
My Rating: 4/5 stars


Slicker Smith (Bud Abbott)  & Herbie Brown (Lou Costello) are trying to make a living as a pair of con artists when they run into a policeman (Nat Pendleton) who is determined to take them in.  Rather than go to jail, they enlist in the army and believe that they have left their troubles behind them.  Unfortunately for them, their troubles are just beginning!  The policeman ends up as their drill sergeant and they just don’t seem to be able to fit in to the army.  As they go through basic training, they encounter all kinds of silly situations and get themselves into plenty of trouble!


This was a silly, fun movie about enlisting in the army.  Rather than focus on how difficult everything is and how stressful it is to be learning so many new things, this movie focuses on making everything appear humorous.  The action centers around 4 guys: 2 salesmen Smith & Brown (Abbott & Costello) who join the army to escape the police, 1 wealthy spoiled brat, Randolph Parker III (Lee Bowman), and 1 ex-chauffeur, Bob Martin (Alan Curtis), who is determined to make his ex-boss pay for the horrible way that he treated them.  To add to the fun, one of the policemen is the drill sergeant (Nat Pendleton) in charge of the unit with the 2 salesmen.  Abbott & Costello are a laugh as the two clueless privates who somehow manage to do just about everything wrong!  From making beds to marching in an organized unit to making bets with other soldiers, they create havoc wherever they go!  They really steal the show as they create some iconic laughs that every military man will remember and appreciate.  Also, their snappy, witty banter is simply not seen in movies these days and is really clever.  Make sure to listen to what they are saying as they have some hilarious scenes in this movie!

This movie made me laugh and I found myself thoroughly entertained.  The Andrews Sisters are part of the women’s unit that are accompanying this particular group of soldiers to boost morale and so there was some terrific singing in this movie.  They hit a lot of the classic, patriotic war songs including “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “You’re A Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith.”   They sounded terrific and had such a wonderful harmony and way of singing.  There is also a great party sequence that shows some top-notch lindy hop or swing dancers.  There is a love triangle as the wealthy man and his ex-chauffeur chase after the same girl (Jane Frazee), plenty of laughs as Abbott & Costello muddle their way through basic training, fantastic singing throughout the film and a mock battle to train the soldiers so there is a little bit of something for everyone!  If you have the opportunity to see this movie on TV or to rent it, I highly recommend that you do as it is a wonderful black-and-white classic that is funny and entertaining at the same time.


This movie shows gambling, drinking, smoking, fighting (including a boxing match), some violence and all kinds of silly pranks.  Appropriate for viewers of all ages.

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Filed under Classic Movies, Comedy Movies, Musicals, Romantic Comedy Movies, War Movies

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