Now we have what will hopefully be the first of many double-features this year as I delve into the Abbott and Costello filmography, starting with the 1940 movie One Night In The Tropics, starring Allan Jones, Nancy Kelly and Robert Cummings.
Steve Harper (Robert Cummings) is engaged to Cynthia Merrick (Nancy Kelly), but keeps running into trouble with his fiancee’s aunt Kitty Marblehead (Mary Boland), along with his former girlfriend Mickey Fitzgerald (Peggy Moran), who is trying to stop the marriage. Steve’s buddy Jim “Lucky” Moore (Allan Jones), who is in the insurance business, believes the marriage will happen, and thus decides to give Steve “Love Insurance.” However, Jim’s father (the owner of the insurance company) doesn’t want to take on the policy, so Jim goes in with mobster Roscoe (William Frawley). However, Cynthia catches Steve kissing Mickey (or rather, the other way around, since Mickey had him cornered against his will in a phone booth) and decides to leave with her aunt for San Marcos in South America. Jim manages to get on the boat to follow her, while Steve gets detained by Mickey, until he is rescued by Roscoe and his two enforcers, Abbott and Costello (yep, they’re essentially playing themselves here). While on the boat, Jim starts to fall for Cynthia (and she for him), but he finds himself also trying to remind her of Steve so that she will marry him. However, Mickey manages to get to San Marcos by fooling Abbott and Costello, where she discovers the insurance policy and tells Cynthia. Together, the two of them decide to get back at the boys, making them both jealous (since Steve’s feelings for Mickey were getting stronger).
The movie was based on the novel “Love Insurance” by Earl Derr Biggers. It had been filmed twice before, both times as silent movies. Originally, the movie went under the title of “Riviera,” which was actually the name of an unproduced musical by Jerome Kern, whose music was used here. Upon its release, critics were generally unkind to the movie, except for their comments on Abbott and Costello, who were making their debut here. Them, everybody loved, and they were quickly signed to a new contract with Universal Studios.
Honestly, I agree with the critics. The music, in spite of its pedigree of being written by Jerome Kern with lyrics by Dorothy Fields or Oscar Hammerstein II, is very much forgettable. As a whole, the movie would indeed be forgotten if not for the presence of Abbott and Costello in their first movie together as a team. They make use of several of their comedy routines here, including “Two Tens For A Five,” “Jonah And The Whale,” “365 Days – Firing,” part of their classic “Who’s On First” routine, and “Mustard” (which apparently required the set to be cleared since the crew kept ruining takes with their laughter). Sure, their routines kind of break up the action, but, as I said, the rest of the movie isn’t really that great, so they are very pleasant interruptions. If only to see Abbott and Costello, this movie is still worth recommending seeing at least once!
This movie is available on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory as part of the 28-film The Complete Abbott & Costello Universal Pictures Collection.
Film Length: 1 hour, 23 minutes
My Rating: 6/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Show Boat (1936) – Allan Jones
Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939) – Robert Cummings – It Started With Eve (1941)
Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello – Buck Privates (1941)
The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection – Buck Privates (1941)
Coming Up Shorts! with… Spinach vs. Hamburgers (1948)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3 from Warner Archive Collection)
Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.
Welcome to my new feature on various theatrical shorts! Sometimes my comments will be on shorts included as extras on a disc set I am reviewing, and other times, they will be completely unrelated to the movie being reviewed (and I will try to indicate which). Hope you enjoy!
(Length: 7 minutes, 57 seconds)
Popeye tries to convince his four nephews of the merits of eating spinach instead of hamburgers. Mostly a clip show, borrowing from the earlier Popeye shorts “The Anvil Chorus Girl,” “Pop-Pie A La Mode” and “She-Sick Sailors” (all available on the previous Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1). Obviously, not as much fun as a short with all-new footage, but there is some fun. Admittedly, I’m not fond of it using footage from the less-than-PC short “Pop-Pie A La Mode,” but it is what it is. Not one of the better shorts (although it’s fun seeing somebody other than Popeye gaining strength from spinach). Also wish they could have actually shown the Wimpy character instead of just referencing him as the owner of the hamburger restaurant across the street from Popeye’s place.
And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring more of Popeye (and the eventual post on the entire 1940s Volume 3 set), along with other shorts!