TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2019 on… In The Navy (1941)

Starting off our next Abbott and Costello double-feature, we have the 1941 comedy In The Navy, also starring Dick Powell!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Robin Hood-Winked (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.

(Length: 7 minutes, 12 seconds)

Popeye is Robin Hood and must rescue Olive from the tax collector, Bluto. Yet another Popeye vs. Bluto cartoon. The Robin Hood angle makes it fun for sure, with a number of rather funny gags. Of course, it pales in comparison to the Looney Tunes versions of Robin Hood with either Bugs or Daffy, but it was still worth a few good laughs just the same!

And Now For The Main Feature…

After one of his shows, popular singer Russ Raymond (Dick Powell) disappears, leading to a nationwide search by his fans and the press. Reporter Dorothy Roberts (Claire Dodd) finds him, and discovers he plans to enlist in the navy under his real name, Tommy Halstead. However, she is unable to prove it, and tries to find ways to get pictures of Tommy. Meanwhile, Tommy’s new navy buddies, Smokey Adams (Bud Abbott) and Pomeroy Watson (Lou Costello) are having troubles of their own. Pomeroy is in love with Patty Andrews, one of the Andrews Sisters, but she doesn’t like him as much. At the nightclub where the Andrews Sisters are performing, the three men get into a brawl, and as a result are transferred to an active battleship. Dorothy sneaks aboard the ship, and is stuck with them as the ship takes off for Hawaii. Upon arriving, she gets her picture proof of Tommy, and the ship is soon besieged with Russ Raymond fans, while Tommy figures out how to escape his new predicament.

While it was Abbott and Costello’s third film to be released to theatres, In The Navy was actually the fourth one they filmed. They had already filmed Hold That Ghost, but the success of Buck Privates led to the studio going for another service picture. Abbott and Costello were joined again by the Andrews Sisters, who were given a little more to do in this movie, other than singing some patriotic and boogie woogie tunes, as Lou’s character was attempting to romance Patty Andrews. The main problem encountered in finishing this movie was getting the U.S. Navy’s approval. They had originally objected to a sequence involving Lou pretending to be the ship’s captain as he gave orders to the ship’s crew for different maneuvers. The filmmakers decided to make that a dream sequence by adding some extra footage, and so they got the Navy’s approval.

For me, In The Navy has been one of my go-to films amongst the Abbott and Costello filmography. Obviously, it’s still a lot of fun with the boys doing more of their comedy routines, which here include “The Lemon Bit,” “7 x 13 = 28” and “Sons Of Neptune” (AKA “Buzzing The Sea”) (and they are joined by former/future Stooge Shemp Howard on them to boot). Any of those moments are guaranteed to have me rolling around in fits of laughter, easily making it worth it! While the Andrews Sisters only have one memorable tune (well, for me anyways) with “Gimme Some Skin, My Friend,” I also can’t help but enjoy the song “We’re In The Navy,” sung first by Dick Powell and then sung again with the Andrews Sisters to end the movie. I guarantee, every time I watch the movie, the song gets stuck in my head (but I’m not complaining)! I’ll admit, the romance between Dick Powell and Claire Dodd’s characters isn’t one of the film’s strengths, but the rest of the movie is worth it! I know this was a successful movie as it certainly had its copycats (I’d swear that the 1944 Bing Crosby movie Here Come The Waves is quite similar, with a crooner wanting to be in the Navy and get away from his fans). A very fun movie here with In The Navy, and one I have no trouble whatsoever in recommending!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory as part of the 28-film The Complete Abbott & Costello Universal Pictures Collection.

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