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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Buck Privates [Blu-ray]


(Arthur Lubin, 1941)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Universal Studios

Video: Universal



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:24:10.628

Disc Size: 27,956,876,445 bytes

Feature Size: 21,254,301,696 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.98 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Digi-book Blu-ray case

Release date: April 17th, 2012



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1785 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1785 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), French, Spanish, none



Abbot and Costello Meet Jerry Seinfeld (45:34)

Theatrical Trailer (1:37)

• 100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics (9:13)

• 100 Years of Universal: the Carl Laemmle Era (8:41)

• 100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Characters (8:18)

My Scenes

DVD of the Feature

40-page Digi-book with photos, advertising etc.





Description: Universal Studios hit box-office gold when they drafted vaudeville comedians and radio stars Bud Abbott and Lou Costello and turned them into one of the most successful screen teams of the 1940s and 1950s. After a tryout as supporting characters in the musical One Night in the Tropics, they starred in Buck Privates as con artists who accidentally enlist while hiding out from New York street cop Nat Pendleton. Naturally he 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. The lackluster subplot is directed with little verve by Arthur Lubin, and the film's energy comes completely from the snappy by-play of the comedians and Costello's flustered double takes and jumpy physical comedy (including a hilarious rifle drill in which the out-of-step soldier marches to the direction of a different compass). The Andrews Sisters sing "You're a Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," among others, and future Stooge Shemp Howard shows where the "mess" in mess hall comes from as a cook on the receiving end of Costello's KP tomfoolery. This modest comedy became a smash hit and made Abbott and Costello Universal's most valuable commodity, prompting a quick follow-up with another peacetime armed forces comedy, In the Navy.

Review from Sean Axmaker at located HERE



The Film:

Filmed on a B-picture budget, Buck Privates was Universal's biggest box-office hit of 1941, firmly securing the movie... popularity of the studio's hot new team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. The story is fairly evenly divided between the antics of Bud and Lou-here cast as sidewalk salesmen Slicker Smith and Herbie Brown-and the romantic triangle involving Randolph Parker III (Lee Bowman), Judy Gray (Jane Frazee) and Bob Martin (Alan Curtis). Escaping the wrath of policeman Mike Collins (Nat Pendleton), Slicker and Herbie duck into a nearby movie theater, which unbeknownst to them has been converted into a US Army recruiting center. As the boys are reluctantly inducted into the Service, wealthy draftee Parker hopes to pull a few strings to avoid putting on a uniform, while Parker's former chauffeur Martin willingly answers his call to the Colors. Once ensconced in boot camp, Slicker and Herbie continually run afoul of their sergeant, who is none other than their old nemesis Mike the cop. Meanwhile, Parker and Martin vie for the attentions of USO hostess Judy, who'll have nothing to do with Parker until he proves his worth as a soldier. Poor Slicker and Herbie are shunted into the background as the romantic subplot is resolved, but at least our heroes get to steal the film's closing scene. It's hard to believe that anyone cared about the Parker-Martin-Judy triangle with Abbott & Costello on hand to perform their classic "dice game", "awkward squad", "turn on the radio" and "boxing ring" routines-not to mention their timeless verbal exchanges, the best of which finds Bud convincing Lou that if he marries an underage girl, she'll eventually be older than he (it plays better than it reads!) As a bonus, the film spotlights the Andrews Sisters, performing such top-ten tunes as "Apple Blossom Time" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy". Even from the vantage point of six decades, with the WWII draft but a dim memory, it is easy to see why Buck Privates was such a huge success.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Buck Privates looks solid on Blu-ray from Universal.  The image is not overwhelming but the smoky contrast shows layers previously unseen on SD.  There may be a shade of green, or even sepia, in there but I am no expert on the original appearance and trust this is a strong replication. The transfer has a high bitrate and the image is very clean. Detail is not a prevalent attribute but in-motion the visuals are seamless and tight with unwavering black levels. This Blu-ray has a genuine feel with nothing notable to report.  I don't suspect digitization but this is not a disc you will use as a demo - it is, however a great way to start a movie-night with friends.

















Audio :

Universal include a DTS-HD Master in stereo at 1785 kbps and The Andrews Sisters sound toe-tapping-ly fabulous. Aside from the frequent musical numbers there isn't much to say with as the film exhibits no aggressive effects. Even devoid of range or depth it is still flawless. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

Aside from the impressive Digi-book - filled with period advertising for the film, articles and color photos, and HD theatrical trailer there is nothing directly relevant to Buck Privates. However the 45-minute Abbot and Costello Meet Jerry Seinfeld has its moments of fun. We also get the three historical Universal pieces celebrating their 100th year - they are interesting for film fans. It has 'My Scenes' capability. There is also a DVD of the Feature included in the package.



No matter how many times you see Buck Privates - it remains a lark. Bud and Lou's hi-jinks never seem to grow old although their confusing monetary exchanges do stretch the point. Nice to see the pair reaching Blu-ray. Being such short flics it might seem appropriate to slap 2 or 3 on one lone BD disc. This is such a classic though - fans will definitely want to indulge although some may consider the price exorbitant for what is offered. 

Gary Tooze

April 10th, 2012



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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