Musical Monday: Keep ‘Em Flying (1941)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Keep ‘Em Flying (1941) – Musical No. 706

keep em flying

Universal Pictures

Arthur Lubin

Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Martha Raye, Carol Bruce, Dick Foran, William Gargan, Charles Lang,

Jinx Roberts (Foran) is a trick flier who joins the U.S. Army Air Corps. His two assistants Heathcliff (Costello) and Blackie (Abbott) follow him and to the base. The two enlist and fall for twin sisters Gloria (Raye) and Barbara (also Raye). Jinx finds trouble when he’s viewed by a hot shot, especially by Craig Morrison (Gargan) and USO hostess Linda Joyce (Bruce), who Jinx falls for.

• Abbott and Costello’s fourth film together, all released in 1941. It was their third comedy based on the 1940 peacetime draft. KEEP ‘EM FLYING was released Nov. 28, 1941.
• Working titles were “Abbott and Costello in the Air,” “Up in the Air” and “Flying Cadets.”
• The flying sequences were filmed at CAL-AERO Academy in Ontario, Calif.
• Re-released in 1949.
• Originally considered as a Freddie Bartholomew and Jackie Cooper project, but changed to a Abbott and Costello film, according to Abbott and Costello biographer Scott Allen Nollen.
• Two songs were eliminated from the film “I’ll Remember April” and “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” both performed by Carol Bruce.

keep em flying3

• Double role for Martha Raye

keep em flying6

Notable Songs:
• “Keep ‘Em Flying” performed by Dick Foran
• “Pig Foot Pete” performed by Martha Raye
• “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” performed by Carol Bruce
• “The Boy with Wistful Eyes” performed by Carol Bruce, reprised by Martha Raye

keep em flying2

My review:
The year 1941 was a busy one for new film stars Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.

That year, the two starred in their first film instead of as a specialty act: BUCK PRIVATE (1941). The success of this peacetime-draft-comedy made Abbott and Costello stars, and the two made three more films in 1941.

Two more films were peacetime military comedies: IN THE NAVY (1941) and this film, KEEP ‘EM FLYING (1941), promoting the U.S. Army Air Corps.

While Abbott and Costello are the stars of the film, the main plot follows Jinx, played by Dick Foran. Aviator dare devil joins the air corps, and he’s followed by his assistants, played by Abbott and Costello.

While shenanigans ensue, this film seems a slightly more serious than BUCK PRIVATES, such as the plotline with Jim Joyce (Charles Lang) having to get up his nerve to fly because of his father’s accident. And then Joyce also is injured.

A highlight of this film is Martha Raye playing twin sisters. It’s fun and I love her rendition of “Pig Foot Pete,” but at the same time the plot could be frustrating. Abbott and Costello are confused by what seems like double talk when they mix up the sisters — why don’t the girls just say “Oh, you must be thinking of my sister!” I guess then we wouldn’t have jokes. Raye’s character performing and working at the USO was fortuitous of her real life activities: throughout every major conflict starting during World War II, Raye traveled and entertained troops.

Carol Bruce was also lovely in this film, though her role was rather small. I also felt like William Gargan was wasted.

Overall this was a good time with some funny moments.

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