Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - May, 2012



"Buck Privates" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton



Bud Abbott and Lou Costello star in Buck Privates as con artists who accidentally enlist while hiding out from New York street cop. Naturally that cop winds up their drill sergeant and comic foil as they wreak havoc on the armed forces. It's vaudeville in fatigues, with the bare bones of a story provided by spoiled millionaire playboy Lee Bowman, his strapping All-American former chauffeur Alan Curtis, and the girl-next-door they both pursue, Jane Frazee.



  • Universal Studios
  • 2012 (1941), B/W, G, 85 Minutes
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Codec: MPEG 4
  • 1080p
  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono
  • Starring:Lou Costello, Bud Abbott, Lee Bowman and the Andrews Sisters
  • Directed by Arthur Lubin
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Slap stick
  • Sex: None
  • Language: None


The film's energy comes completely from the snappy repartee between Bud and Lou. The plot is paper thin, but it showcases Costello's slapstick physical comedy which includes a rifle drill gone awry and plenty of people breaking into songs. Shemp Howard cameos as the boot camp cook, too. That must be why it is called a "mess hall"! The Andrews Sisters sing "You're a Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," and the whole movie exudes nostalgia from a by-gone era, the likes which we will never see again. This movie launched the Vaudeville team into the talking picture shows and for the next decade, Abbott and Costello were the most popular comedic force in America.


Of course the film is in 4:3, black and white with a mono soundtrack. But the sharpness and details are pretty amazing. The print has gone through a rigorous cleaning and all scratches and blemishes have been removed. In an early scene, Costello has a "loud" herringbone jacket that never goes "moire pattern" on the screen. Everything looks solid and stable. The stock footage of the army camp look a bit soft, but otherwise the picture looks great. The soundtrack is crystal clear with no audible crackles and hiss thanks to a new HD audio re-mastering. I am both astonished and excited with the effort that Universal is putting into their classic vaults. I can't wait for the Universal Monster movies to be released (Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman and Mummy).


Some very worthwhile extras are included: Restoring the Classics, The Carl Laemmle Era, Unforgettable Characters, Abbott and Costello Meet Jerry Seinfeld (this is very good!), a forty-page booklet featuring an appreciation from director John Landis and rare movie memorabilia, vintage photographs, and classic routine scripts. A DVD is also included.