Review: Erle C. Kenton’s “Pardon My Sarong,” Starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello

Bud Abbott, William Demarest, and Lou Costello in
Bud Abbott, William Demarest, and Lou Costello in "Pardon My Sarong"

After longtime director Arthur Lubin jumped from the Abbott and Costello ship following Ride ‘Em Cowboy, the next director Universal hired to take the comedians on was Erle C. Kenton. The filmmaker behind early Harry Langdon and W.C. Fields comedies made three pictures in a row for the duo, starting first with Pardon My Sarong in 1942. For at least the first half, the film is some of the best work from the comedy team. They play bus drivers who steal their vehicle, recklessly driving it from Chicago to Los Angeles. Antics ensue as a cop (the very funny William Demarest) chases them all over town, eventually leading them out to sea where they get hired working on a yacht owned by a playboy (Robert Paige). They all end up shipwrecked on an island for the second half, where the creative absurdity of the first half is replaced with lazy xenophobic jokes about the island natives and a dull villain played by Lionel Atwill (apparently still hanging around on Universal’s tropical sets after The Mad Doctor of Market Street). Despite this, Pardon My Sarong landed as the biggest Abbott and Costello box office hit to date, and the second highest grossing film of the year after Mrs. Miniver.1

Where to Watch

Buy it on DVD as part of The Best of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello

For More on Pardon My Sarong

Read the review in The New York Times

References   [ + ]

1. Bob Furmanek and Ron Palumbo, Abbott and Costello in Hollywood (New York: Perigee Trade, 1991), 87.