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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

One Night In the Tropics (1940)



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Comedians Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, accomplished in stage work by 1940, were brought into One Night In the Tropics as comic relief, and they ended up stealing the show. Their own feature film soon followed with Buck Privates, and when that was a hit, their long and successful film career was assured.

In One Night In the Tropics, their scenes are funny, but they are obvious non sequiturs from the rest of the plot. Some of their most famous skits are included, most notably the "two tens for a five" sketch, the skit where Costello tries to tell a joke (but Abbott "innocently" foils him), and, in a rough early form, everybody's favorite, "Who's On First?"

The main part of the plot, while silly and unlikely, is also quite fun. It involves the efforts of Robert Cummings to marry Nancy Kelly. But Mary Boland has ideas of stealing him for herself and won't take no for an answer. Meanwhile, his friend, while trying his best to help him out, ends up falling in love with his beloved. Yes, this movie is just as it sounds: tangled romantic pairings and madcap shenanigans, jarringly interspliced with Abbott and Costello's comedy. It's not great filmmaking by any stretch of the imagination, but a properly silly mood can have fun with it.