THE ANDREWS SISTERS IN THE MOVIES

The Andrews Sisters, America’s singing sweethearts during the ’30s and ’40s and bulwarks of morale during World War II, made sixteen movies. Two of them were Disney films in which we did not see them, but their matchless harmony enriched the sound tracks.

Their acting bloomed in GIVE OUT SISTERS (1942) and blossomed in SWINGTIME JOHNNY (1943), with LaVerne especially coming into her comedic own and obviously enjoying herself. But the earlier BUCK PRIVATES (1941) is still the standout. It made history, introducing Bud Abbott and Lou Costello to the mainstream movie audience and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” to the world.*

Directed by Arthur Lubin the unpretentious BUCK PRIVATES, with a modest budget and clever miniatures and process shots, imaginatively creates an army camp in which Abbott and Costello are still today mostly funny in their routines. The great delight is “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” sneaking up on you from the club dance floor, unheralded, with no sense of the establishment of an icon.

The flip side of the Andrews Sisters’ 78rpm “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” was “Bounce Me Brother with a Solid Four,” which I eventually preferred. It also is featured in BUCK PRIVATES though the editor — how is it possible? — cuts away from it. And as if these two hits are not enough, they also sing “In Apple Blossom Time,” another giant seller, and their delightful patriotic song, “You’re a Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith.”

Last fall I traveled all the way to Mound, Minnesota to see the plaque in honor of my favorite trio at the head of the Andrew Sisters Trail in their hometown. The text of the plaque by Tom Rockvam, author of a book about the famous singers, could not be improved. It does full justice and pays appropriate tribute to the contribution the Andrews Sisters made to homefront and overseas morale. Mound has done well by its famous sisters.

As I write this, I still have on my desk the autographed photo the Andrews Sisters sent me after I wrote them a fan letter. I wrote in pencil on a dime store pad. They responded generously to a letter that was obviously from a grade school kid. I took that for granted at the time. I no longer do.

Buck Privates
Arthur Lubin
1941

Give Out Sisters
Edward F. Cline
1942

Swingtime Johnny
Edward F. Cline
1943

*BUCK PRIVATES was not Abbott and Costello’s first film, but in ONE NIGHT IN THE TROPICS they had secondary parts. BUCK PRIVATES made them stars.

NEXT POST March 31

See you at the movies,
Rick

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