Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Review of Abbott and Costello on the Home Front: A Critical Study of the Wartime Films

Scott Allen Nollen
Abbott and Costello on the Home Front
A Critical Study of the Wartime Films
North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc, 2009
212pp. $55.00
ISBN 978-0-7864-3521-0 800-253-2187

In Scott Allen Nollen's new book Abbott and Costello on the Home Front: A Critical Study of the Wartime Films, his goal was to examine "the production, content, and reception of 18 films within the context of wartime events on the home front and abroad." Although, he does succeed in his goal of discussing the film's production, content and reception; he fails to relate them to the events of the time.

He brings a love and new insight to the material that makes the book an enjoyable read. More importantly, he adds new anecdotes and stories that have been revealed, in recent years, which adds, immensely, to the overall depth and understanding of these two great Comedians but at no point does the book tie together nor fulfills the promise of putting these stories into the context of this traumatic time in American history.

In 1975, Jim Mulholland wrote the quintessential book on Abbott and Costello, The Abbott and Costello Book; since then, no one has been able to recapture the life and career of this great comedic team. Scott Allen Nollen, in this book, comes as close as anyone since Jim Mulholland.

The book is well written and in a style that is easily understood; it is illustrated with some amazing photos and lobby cards, from the author's personal collection, which adds to the overall enjoyment of the book and because of this it is a must read for any Abbott and Costello fan. However, it fails to deliver a critical study but rather is a retelling of the Mulholland’s book in terms of these 18 films. Although it is well written and has new insight, it could have been greatly improved had he only given us what he had promised.

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