The Making of 'Mary Poppins
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“You cannot capture a man’s entire life in two hours. All you can hope is to leave the impression of one”.
Bud and Lou (1978)
“I’m a straight man. Not an actor”, Harvey Korman’s Bud Abbott tells Buddy Hackett’s Lou Costello. And while it may be true that Abbott was no actor, the same is equally true of Harvey Korman and Buddy Hackett. Therein lies one of the many problems with this biopic. Having cast comedians as one of filmdom’s best-loved comedy teams, their one-dimensional portrayals render them a most unlikable pairing.
From the outset, Costello is characterised as having a massive chip on his shoulder. The virulence continues throughout the film, so when Costello’s character is supposed to change for the worse after his baby son dies, he ends up resembling one of the monsters the team encountered in their film career.
Having sacrificed dramatic skills for comedic talent, one would have expected some redemption in the recreations of Abbott and Costello’s routines. Alas, it was not to be. Though Korman and Hackett may be singularly funny, as a team they have no comedy timing whatsoever. In place of Abbott and Costello’s rapid-fire banter, Korman and Hackett’s delivery is slow, mannered and embarrassingly unfunny.
Though it may be unkind to suggest an alternate title for this biopic could be ‘Abbott and Costello Meet the Grave-Robbers’, it is a mystery why the filmmakers seemed so intent on smearing the comedy team. Why they chose to do this, I don’t know….. Third Base!
as Bud Abbott and Lou Costello
Biopic doesn't feature any of Lou's children apart from the son who died, and none of Bud's family. Chris Costello, Lou's youngest daughter, has stated that this was because the producers didn't want to include anybody who was still alive in case they got sued. Chris later wrote a book, 'Lou's on First' to provide a more balanced portrait of her father.
Despite the myth repeated in this biopic, Lou Costello did not die while eating strawberry ice-cream.
The team's manager, Eddie Sherman, was not present at Lou's bedside when the comedian died.
Biopic contains a fleeting recreation from the In the Navy and many scenes of the team playing Gin Rummy while holding up production. It does however recreate their famous 'Who's on First' routine which, according to at least one contemporary newspaper report, looped in Lou Costello's voice over Buddy Hackett's.