Abbott and Costello

 

 

 

 

 

Left: William Alexander “Bud” Abbott – b. 10/02/1895; d. 04/24/1974

Right: Louis Francis “Lou” Cristillo – Surname later changed to Costello – b. 03/06/1906; d. 03/03/1959

 

 

 

Some of my favorite Abbott and Costello comedies are:

 

Hold That Ghost (1941) -- Two bumbling idiots, Chuck and Ferdie, are fired from their jobs as waiters and start up a gas station. But there they are accidentally caught in the car of a mobster Moose Matson in a chase as he is pursued by Feds. Shot, just before he dies, Moose gives them a title paper which entitles them to a cut of his fortune. Along with several other fortune hunters, they head to a lonely mansion where Moose’s loot is reputedly stashed, but have to put up with both ghosts and other mobsters searching for the stash.

 

Lost in a Harem (1944) -- Abbott and Costello star in this harem musical comedy, where an American troupe is stranded in a desert land ruled by evil sheik Dumbrille, who has ousted the rightful heir, his nephew, from the throne. Conte, as the nephew, knows his uncle has a weakness for blondes, so he hires Maxwell to seduce Dumbrille and the troupe's magical act, Abbott and Costello, to steal the sheik's magical rings. Costello returned after a year of illness to team up again with Abbott, both playing the usual slapstick comedy in this film to the hilt. Musical numbers were supplied by Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra. An elaborate ballet scene set to "Scheherazade" music more than makes up for leftover props and costumes from the movie KISMET.  Features the “Pokomoko” (“Slowly I Turned”) routine.

 

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) -- Two bumbling baggage clerks, Wilbur and Chick, are asked to deliver a crate to a wax museum. Wilbur discovers that the crates contain the bodies of Dracula and the Frankenstein monster. Dracula revives the Frankenstein monster, intending to use it as his servant. He then enlists the help of scientist Sandra Mornay to transplant Wilbur’s brain into the monster’s head in order to make it more docile.

 

Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer (1949) -- Wacky hijinks abound when hotel detective Casey Edwards (Bud Abbott) and bellboy Freddie Phillips (Lou Costello) investigate the murder of a crooked lawyer. This comedy, which is one of the famous duo's best, starts when the pair's investigation blossoms into an attempt to solve a series of murders that have all occurred at Lost Canyons Hotel. Director Charles Barton keeps the mystery going until the finish. One of the best bits is when Boris Karloff, barely disguised as the sinister mystic Swami Talpur, tries to get Freddie to commit suicide under hypnosis while screaming "You're going to commit suicide if it's the last thing you do." Inspector Wellman (James Flavin) finally does track down the killer but it's not who you would suspect. The farce flows freely from the story by Hugh Wedlock and Howard Snyder who penned the screenplay with the help of John Grant. Fake Svengali (Karloff) pops around many a corner, giving the boys quite a scare as they bungle their way to the bottom of the mystery.

 

Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951) -- Two bumbling private detectives become involved in helping prize-fight contender Tommy Nelson who is trying to clear his name from a murder charge. Tommy  injects himself with an invisibility serum in order to hide from the police and then sets Lou up as a fight contender in order to draw out the crooked promoter. This culminates in the untrained Lou having to fight his opponent in the ring aided by Tommy’s invisible punches.

 

Jack and the Beanstalk (1952) -- This classic fairy tale gets the Abbot & Costello buffoon treatment as the comedy duo take on a babysitting job. Jack, played by Lou Costello, starts reading "Jack and the Beanstalk" to his charge, Donald, but fails to pronounce the big words. Donald then takes over, whilst reading Jack falls asleep and is transported to a magical world. Jack trades his cow to the village butcher (played by Abbot) for five magic beans, the beans are planted and overnight a stalk grows into the skies, where the cruel giant, played by Buddy Baer, lives with his statuesque housekeeper Dorothy Ford; the hen that lays the golden eggs, and the talking harp. The giant kidnaps the prince and princess and Jack climbs the beanstalk to rescue the royal pair followed by the butcher who just wants to steal the riches.

 

Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953) -- Orville and Lester, two idiotic technicians at a missile base, accidentally launch themselves in an experimental rocket ship. The rocket lands in New Orleans in the middle of the Mardi Gras where they mistake attendees for denizens of another planet. With two escaped convicts aboard as stowaways, they head on to Venus. There they become, to their delight, the first male visitors to the all-female society in two thousand years.

 

Abbott and Costello Meet Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953) -- In turn of the century London, two bumbling American detectives on loan to Scotland Yard investigate the murder of a prominent physician. The trail leads to Dr Henry Jekyll who has perfected a potion capable of bringing out the bestial side of man. As Jekyll's niece becomes attracted to a reporter, the jealousy brings the Hyde personality to kill again.

 

Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955) -- Two idiots, Freddie and Peter, go to the house of an archaeologist looking for a job guarding a mummy. But while they are there the professor is murdered by the cult worshippers of the mummy, Klaris. When Freddie accidentally swallows a cursed medallion, the two idiots become caught up in the hunt for the lost tomb of Klaris.

 

Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops (1955) -- Abbott and Costello team up with the legendary Mack Sennett and his Keystone Kops in a bi-coastal romp involving a master swindler and the burgeoning motion picture business.

 

 

 

 

The complete list of their movies are as follows:

 

One Night in the Tropics (1940), Buck Privates (1941), In the Navy (1941), Hold That Ghost (1941), Keep ‘Em Flying (1941), Ride ‘Em Cowboy (1942), Rio Rita (1942), Pardon My Sarong (1942), Who Done It? (1942), It Ain’t Hay (1943), Hit the Ice (1943), In Society (1944), Lost in a Harem (1944), Here Come the Co-Eds (1945), The Naughty Nineties (1945), Abbott and Costello in Hollywood (1945), Little Giant (1946), The Time of Their Lives (1946), Buck Privates Come Home (1947), The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap (1947), The Noose Hangs High (1948), Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), Mexican Hayride (1948), Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer: Boris Karloff (1949), Africa Screams (1949), Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion (1950), Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951), Comin’ Round the Mountain (1951), Jack and the Beanstalk (1952), Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952), Lost in Alaska (1952), Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953), Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1954), Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops (1955), Dance With Me Henry (1956), The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock (Costello sans Abbott) (1958), and The World of Abbott and Costello (collection) (1965).

 

Costello was famous for several phrases, such as: “H-e-y A-b-b-o-t-t” “I’m a B-a-a-d Boy!” and “Ain’t I A Stinker?”

 

 

Who’s On First ?

 

Skit

 

 

Abbott: Alright, now whaddya want?

Costello: Now look, I'm the head of the sports department. I gotta know the baseball players' names.  Do you know the guys' names?

Abbott: Oh sure.

Costello: So you go ahead and tell me some of their names.

Abbott: Well, I'll introduce you to the boys. You know sometimes nowadays they give ballplayers peculiar names.

Costello: You mean funny names.

Abbott: Nicknames, pet names, like Dizzy Dean -

Costello: His brother Daffy -

Abbott: Daffy Dean -

Costello: And their cousin!

Abbott: Who's that?

Costello: Goofy!

Abbott: Goofy, huh? Now let's see. We have on the bags - we have Who's on first, What's on second, I Don't Know's on third.

Costello: That's what I wanna find out.

Abbott: I say Who's on first, What's on second, I Don't Know's on third -

Costello: You know the fellows' names?

Abbott: Certainly!

Costello: Well then who's on first?

Abbott: Yes!

Costello: I mean the fellow's name!

Abbott: Who!

Costello: The guy on first!

Abbott: Who!

Costello: The first baseman!

Abbott: Who!

Costello: The guy playing first!

Abbott: Who is on first!

Costello: Now whaddya askin' me for?

Abbott: I'm telling you Who is on first.

Costello: Well, I'm asking YOU who's on first!

Abbott: That's the man's name.

Costello: That's who's name?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: Well go ahead and tell me.

Abbott: Who.

Costello: The guy on first.

Abbott: Who!

Costello: The first baseman.

Abbott: Who is on first!

Costello: Have you got a contract with the first baseman?

Abbott: Absolutely.

Costello: Who signs the contract?

Abbott: Well, naturally!

Costello: When you pay off the first baseman every month, who gets the money?

Abbott: Every dollar. Why not? The man's entitled to it.

Costello: Who is?

Abbott: Yes. Sometimes his wife comes down and collects it.

Costello: Who's wife?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: All I'm tryin' to find out is what's the guy's name on first base.

Abbott: Oh, no - wait a minute, don't switch 'em around. What is on second base.

Costello: I'm not askin' you who's on second.

Abbott: Who is on first.

Costello: I don't know.

Abbott: He's on third - now we're not talkin' 'bout him.

Costello: Now, how did I get on third base?

Abbott: You mentioned his name!

Costello: If I mentioned the third baseman's name, who did I say is playing third?

Abbott: No - Who's playing first.

Costello: Never mind first - I wanna know what's the guy's name on third.

Abbott: No - What's on second.

Costello: I'm not askin' you who's on second.

Abbott: Who's on first.

Costello: I don't know.

Abbott: He's on third.

Costello: Aaah! Would you please stay on third base and don't go off it?

Abbott: What was it you wanted?

Costello: Now who's playin' third base?

Abbott: Now why do you insist on putting Who on third base?

Costello: Why? Who am I putting over there?

Abbott: Yes. But we don't want him there.

Costello: What's the guy's name on third base?

Abbott: What belongs on second.

Costello: I'm not askin' you who's on second.

Abbott: Who's on first.

Costello: I don't know.

Abbott & Costello: THIRD BASE!

Costello: You got an outfield?

Abbott: Oh yes!

Costello: The left fielder's name?

Abbott: Why.

Costello: I don't know, I just thought I'd ask you.

Abbott: Well, I just thought I'd tell you.

Costello: Alright, then tell me who's playin' left field.

Abbott: Who is playing fir-

Costello: STAY OUTTA THE INFIELD! I wanna know what's the left fielder's name.

Abbott: What's on second.

Costello: I'm not askin' you who's on second.

Abbott: Who's on first.

Costello: I don't know.

Abbott & Costello: THIRD BASE!

Costello: The left fielder's name?

Abbott: Why.

Costello: Because!

Abbott: Oh, he's center field.

Costello: Look, you gotta pitcher on this team?

Abbott: Now wouldn't this be a fine team without a pitcher.

Costello: The pitcher's name.

Abbott: Tomorrow.

Costello: You don't wanna tell me today?

Abbott: I'm tellin' you now.

Costello: Then go ahead.

Abbott: Tomorrow.

Costello: What time?

Abbott: What time what?

Costello: What time tomorrow are you going to tell me who's pitching?

Abbott: Now listen. Who is not pitching. Who is on fir-

Costello: I'll break your arm if you say Who's on first. I wanna know what's the pitcher's name.

Abbott: What's on second.

Costello: I don't know.

Abbott & Costello: THIRD BASE!

Costello: You got a catcher?

Abbott: Oh, absolutely.

Costello: The catcher's name.

Abbott: Today.

Costello: Today. And Tomorrow's pitching.

Abbott: Now you've got it.

Costello: All we've got is a couple of days on the team.

Abbott: Well, I can't help that.

Costello: Well, I'm a catcher too.

Abbott: I know that.

Costello: Now suppose that I'm catching, Tomorrow's pitching on my team and their heavy hitter gets up.

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: Tomorrow throws the ball. The batter bunts the ball. When he bunts the ball, me being a good catcher, I wanna throw the guy out at first base.  So I pick up the ball and throw it to who?

Abbott: Now that's the first thing you've said right.

Costello: I don't even know what I'm talkin' about!

Abbott: Well, that's all you have to do.

Costello: Is to throw the ball to first base.

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: Now who's got it?

Abbott: Naturally!

Costello: If I throw the ball to first base, somebody's gotta catch it. Now who caught it?

Abbott: Naturally!

Costello: Who caught it?

Abbott: Naturally.

Costello: Who?

Abbott: Naturally!

Costello: Naturally.

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: So I pick up the ball and I throw it to Naturally.

Abbott: NO, NO, NO! You throw the ball to first base and Who gets it?

Costello: Naturally.

Abbott: That's right. There we go.

Costello: So I pick up the ball and I throw it to Naturally.

Abbott: You don't!

Costello: I throw it to who?

Abbott: Naturally.

Costello: THAT'S WHAT I'M SAYING!

Abbott: You're not saying it that way.

Costello: I said I throw the ball to Naturally.

Abbott: You don't - you throw the ball to Who?

Costello: Naturally!

Abbott: Well, say that!

Costello: THAT'S WHAT I'M SAYING! I throw the ball to who?

Abbott: Naturally.

Costello: Ask me.

Abbott: You throw the ball to Who?

Costello: Naturally.

Abbott: That's it.

Costello: SAME AS YOU!! I throw the ball to first base and who gets it?

Abbott: Naturally!

Costello: Who has it?

Abbott: Naturally!

Costello: HE BETTER HAVE IT! I throw the ball to first base. Whoever it is grabs the ball, so the guy runs to second. Who picks up the ball and throws it to What, What throws it to I Don't Know, I Don't Know throws it back to Tomorrow - triple play.

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: Another guy gets up - it's a long fly ball to Because. Why? I don't know. He's on third and I don't give a darn!

Abbott: What was that?

Costello: I said I don't give a darn!

Abbott: Oh, that's our shortstop.

 

“Pokomoko”

(from Lost in a Harem1944)

 

 

ED. NOTE:  This famous skit was but one of several renditions of the famous “Slowly I Turned . . . Inch by Inch . . . Step by Step” Vaudeville skit.  The “trigger” in Lost in a Harem was the word “Pokomoko.”  The Three Stooges did their version in Gents Without Cents in 1944 – the same year as Lost in a Harem, using the word “Niagara Falls” as the “trigger.”  Lucille Ball did a rendition as well, in I Love Lucy Episode 19 entitled “The Ballet,” which aired on 02/18/1952, using the word “Martha” as the trigger.  Here’s Abbott and Costello’s version:

 

Hear It Here ! (.mp3 files)

 

COMPLETE SKIT

 

* OR *

 

PART 1     PART 2     PART 3

 

 

 

Derelict: Gentleman, he called me a Gentleman, thank you. Those are first kind words I've heard in years. You know I haven't always been a derelict like you!

 

Lou: Hey now don't call me those kind of bad names!

 

Derelict: Would you like to hear my story?

 

Lou: NO!

 

Derelict: Very well then I'll tell it to you.

 

Lou: I said that I didn't....Well very well I insist go ahead.

 

Bud: Go ahead.

 

Derelict: Thank you. Years ago my father gave me the benefit of a very good education. Then I met her. Oh my memory of her, she was beautiful! Glorious! We were married, two years later we had a baby boy. I haven't seen that boy since that very day.

 

Lou: Did you say a baby boy?

 

Derelict: Yes he did!

 

Lou: Did he have brown eyes?

 

Derelict: Yes!!

 

Lou: And two little teeth in front?

 

Derelict: Yes! Yes!!

 

Lou: And black hair?

 

Derelict: Yes!!!!!!

 

Lou: DADDY!!!

 

Bud: What's a matter with you? Sit still, keep quiet, stop interrupting the man.

 

Lou: I thought I found my father!

 

Bud: Quiet, go right ahead.

 

Derelict: Thank You sir. We were very happy, my little family. One morning we were seated around the breakfast table and a knock came at the door. I opened the door and there stood a man. He was broken in health and spirit. I begged him to enter. I welcomed him into my home and said "make my home your home", and he did. One day I returned from work to find my home was no longer a home, my wife, the baby and the stranger had fled. Then one day, at the banks of the POKOMOKO, I found them. Suddenly my brain snapped, all the hatred, all the pent-up emotion of years suffering swelled up within me. I knew I would never be satisfied until I had my boney fingers wrapped around his throat. So with murder in my heart, SLOWLY I TURNED, STEP BY STEP, STEP BY STEP, I CREPT UPON HIM AND WHEN I SAW THE SNEER ON HIS FACE, I STRUCK, AND I GRABBED HIM AND I SHOOK HIM AROUND. That's what I did with him.

 

Bud: What's a matter with you? Why are you interrupting him?

 

Derelict: My poor friend, I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself.

 

Bud: Certainly.

 

Derelict: But every time I hear that word, POKOMOKO!, I just want to kill!!!!

 

Lou: Take it easy pal, take it easy!!

 

Bud: Every time he hears that word POKOMOKO.........

 

Derelict: POKOMOKO! Oh I knew I'd never be satisfied until I had his blood running between my fingers. So, SLOWLY I TURNED, STEP BY STEP, STEP BY STEP, I CREPT UPON HIM AND WHEN I SAW THE SMIRK OF HIS CONTENANCE, I GRABBED HIM. I LET HIM HAVE IT AGAIN, I COULDNT HELP MYSELF, I WAS GOING OUT OF MY MIND.

 

Bud: Stand still! What's a matter with you? The man's telling you his life history. It's interesting.

 

Derelict: Poor thing. I did it again didn't I?

 

Bud: That's all right.

 

Derelict: What's happening to me?

 

Lou: It's not happening to you Brother! It's all happening over here.

 

Bud: Don't use that word! eh Pok......

 

Lou: Don't, don't, don't say it! He means Pocahontas.

 

Derelict: POKA....

 

Lou: Pocahontas.

 

Bud: That's right.

 

Lou: Sounds like Pokomoko.

 

Derelict: POKOMOKO!!! SO, SLOWLY I TURNED..........

 

Lou: Here we go again!!!

 

Derelict: STEP BY STEP, I CREPT CLOSER AND CLOSER AND WHEN I FELT HIS BREATH ON MY TEETH, I GRABBED HIM ONCE AGAIN....(ranting)

 

Bud: Just a minute, now you've been getting away with murder. Enough is enough, you understand that! I've stood by and watch all this and I've let you get away with it. But no more.

 

Hazel: Come on Lou get up.

 

Lou: Oh, its no use Miss Hazel, he'll only knock me down again.

 

Bud: These things cost money, be careful how you handle them. Go over there and sit down. Relax. You can't buy those hats today!

 

Prince Ramo: Pssst, quiet the guard will hear you.

 

Lou: What do you want?

 

Prince Ramo: The blond girl, I have use for her.

 

Lou: You know the guy who comes to the cabaret every night, he says he has a use for you.

 

Miss Hazel: Well tell him I have no use for him.

 

Lou: Yes Ma'am.

 

Lou:  She says she has no use for you, now, what's your comeback.

 

Bud: Come here, maybe he can get you out of here!

 

Miss Hazel: I certainly wouldn't leave without the both of you.

 

Lou: Oh Miss Hazel, you got to go, you and Bud. I got you both into this trouble. I'll stay here and face it like a man.

 

Miss Hazel: I'll go on just one condition, Ramo gets the three of us out of here.

 

Bud: Go tell him.

 

Lou: Ok, Miss Hazel wants to know "What's Cookin?"

 

Prince Ramo: I wish to help her escape. Tell her I will get her out of here and out of this evil country. If in return she will agree to help me.

 

Lou: You have to take the three us out of this evil country.

 

Prince Ramo: That will be satisfactory. I do not have time to explain further, here take this and use it to escape the cell.

 

Lou: Use this to escape? What do you want me to do, eat my way out?

 

Prince Ramo: The dumbest man I ever saw!!!!!!

 

Bud: It's in the bread, you know you saw the bars .

 

Lou: I'm on top of them, I got to see them, I'm not blind!

 

Prince Ramo: I cannot remain any longer, use the saw to escape, I'll be ready to take you away. Before the sun rises we'll be safe at my desert camp.

 

Lou: Where's that?

 

Prince Ramo: On the banks of the Pokomoko.

 

Derelict: POKOMOKO!!!!!!!!!!

 

Lou: EVERYBODY RUN TO THE HILLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Derelict: SLOWLY I TURNED, STEP BY STEP............................................................