And for the second half of today’s Abbott and Costello double-feature, we have their 1950 movie Abbott And Costello In The Foreign Legion!
Wrestling promoters Bud Jones (Bud Abbott) and Lou Hotchkiss (Lou Costello) find that their client, Abdullah (Wee Willie Davis), is dissatisfied with them after being told he has to lose his next match, and decides to return to his home. Since Bud and Lou owe money to a mobster who helped bring Abdullah over, they decide to follow Abdullah and bring him back. The trail leads them to Algiers, where they find out he is a member of the Al-Minya tribe. The problem, though, is that the tribe, led by Abdullah’s cousin Sheik Hamud El Khalid (Douglass Dumbrille), has been sabotaging the railroad with the help of Foreign Legionnaire Sergeant Axmann (Walter Slezak). Sheik Hamud hears about Bud and Lou searching for Abdullah, assumes they are with the railroad and tries to have them killed. They manage to escape by taking shelter with the French Foreign Legion, except they meet Sergeant Axmann, who tricks them into signing up for a five year stretch with the Legion. They struggle with their training (Lou in particular, but was there ever a doubt about that?), but when they are given a pass to meet somebody in town, they realize that Sergeant Axmann is a traitor when he tries to send them to the wrong address. Sergeant Axmann had an ambush set up for them at the address he gave them, but they figured it out in time and got away. They run across Nicole Dupre (Patrica Medina), the French intelligence agent they were supposed to meet, and they tell her about the sergeant. However, without proof, nothing can be done, so Bud and Lou return to the sergeant’s quarters to find something. Unlucky for them, he returns and catches them. Conveniently for him, he needs men for a patrol, which he “volunteers” them for. While the patrol is camped at night, Sheik Hamud and his men attack, killing all the men but the sergeant. Bud and Lou are lucky, as they had gone off to catch a runaway camel, so they survive, too. They run into more trouble, though, when Sheik Hamud’s men capture them at an oasis, and the Sheik makes plans to have them killed. Can Bud and Lou escape from his clutches and help put an end to his destruction?
Originally, the plan was to start filming on Abbott And Costello In The Foreign Legion not long after finishing Abbott And Costello Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff, but that didn’t quite happen. Lou had had some health issues that delayed filming, in between suffering from rheumatic fever again, as well as surgery to deal with a gangrenous gall bladder. Even with all that, his health was still precarious, yet he insisted on doing some of his stunts himself. That included a wrestling scene with Wee Willie Davis, which resulted in Lou suffering from a wrenched arm socket and a stretched tendon. Still, he was able to get through the movie, just the same.
This is probably one of the Abbott and Costello films I’ve been able to see many times over the years (and let’s face it, being one of the films with their names in the title, it was generally easier to figure out that they were in it whenever it would come on). Even after all this time, I still enjoy this one a lot. Obviously, it has its memorable moments, from the “wrestling rehearsal” (it was fixed! 😉 ) to the requisite thirsty desert trek with mirages usually found in comedies of this type, as well as a fish with false teeth at the oasis they find, so it’s all good fun! Admittedly, it probably does have some issues with the portrayals of the Arabs here (especially being led by all-purpose villainous actor Douglas Dumbrille), but it doesn’t feel like anything major here. As I said, it’s a wonderful movie worth quite a few laughs, and for that reason, it’s worth a recommendation from me!
This movie is available on Blu-ray from Shout Factory as part of the 28 film The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection, and is one hour, twenty minutes in length.
My Rating: 9/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Coming Up Shorts! with… The Screwy Truant (1945)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1 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, 1 second)
Screwy Squirrel avoids going to school while being chased by the truant officer dog. More fun with Screwy Squirrel (although with a slightly different laugh than the previous cartoon). Loved the quick appearance of Red Riding Hood and the Wolf utilizing their look from the opening of Red Hot Riding Hood. All the various sight gags here continue to make these cartoons fun and worth seeing to get a few good laughs!
And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring cartoons by Tex Avery (and the eventual post on the entire Volume 1 set), along with other shorts!