Monday, February 22, 2010

On This Day in Abbott and Costello History

Today February 22nd "Little Giant" opened in 1946.

A naive country boy named Benny Miller (Lou Costello), from Cucamonga, California, has been taking correspondence phonograph lessons in salesmanship. Upon completion of the course, he leaves his mother (Mary Gordon) and his girlfriend Martha (Elena Verdugo) to pursue a career in Los Angeles. He arranges a meeting with his Uncle Clarence (George Cleveland), a bookkeeper with the Hercules Vacuum Cleaner Company. When he arrives to ask for a job, the sales manager, John Morrison (Bud Abbott), mistakes him for one of the auditioning fashion models and has him remove his clothing. Morrison's secret wife, Hazel Temple (Jacqueline de Wit), discovers the mistake and suggests that Benny be hired to avoid an accounting scandal, as they have been "cooking the books". Unfortunately, Benny is fired from his salesman post after only one day. Clarence transfers Benny to the company's Stockton branch, which is run by Morrison's cousin, Tom Chandler (also played by Bud Abbott).
Benny's misfortunes continue, including a prank played on him by his new coworkers when they convince him that he can read minds. However, the prank gives Benny sufficient confidence to become Hercules' 'Salesman of the Year'. He is sent back to the Los Angeles branch to receive his award, and while demonstrating his 'abilities' to Morrison, he alludes to the fact that Morrison has a secret bank account. Morrison sends his wife (Hazel) to obtain more information from Benny to determine what he actually knows. Hazel and Benny go to her apartment, where Benny becomes ill after smoking a cigar. Hazel then gives Benny a sedative, and inadvertently takes one herself. Morrison comes home to find the two asleep together, and fears that they had a tryst.
At the awards ceremony that evening, Benny learns of the mind-reading ruse, and overhears Morrison speaking ill of him. Benny returns to his mother and his girlfriend in Cucamonga, where he also encounters Chandler, his coworker Ruby (Brenda Joyce), and the Hercules company president, Mr. Van Loon (Pierre Watkins). They announce that Morrison has been fired, and has been replaced by Chandler. Benny is now sales manager of the Cucamonga district. (synopsis from Wikipedia)

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