Monday, February 3, 2014

What was playing at the Palace on Feb. 3, 1957?

Why, it was none other than Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in Dance With Me, Henry (1956), the very last feature film they made together as a team before they broke up. It opened at the Palace in Lorain on February 3, 1957 – fifty seven years ago today – as part of a double feature with Emergency Hospital (1956).

Dance With Me, Henry was a fairly sentimental affair. Costello plays the owner of a small kiddie amusement park, and Abbott plays his partner. The duo gets mixed up with some gangsters due to Abbott's gambling debts, and this jeopardizes Costello's custody of two orphan children. Of course, the movie has a happy ending, and it's a pleasant swan song for the popular team.

The title of the film – "Dance With Me, Henry" – was originally a rhythm and blues hit that later was a pop hit, spending three weeks at the top of the Most Played In Juke Boxes chart in 1955. The tune had nothing to do with the film, except for the fact that Costello's character was named Lou Henry.

I'm not sure why the movie ad unflatteringly shows Costello as a human balloon, as there are no corresponding comic hijinks in the film.

Here's a movie poster that gives you a better look at what's going on.

Here's another movie poster, this time without the "Costello as a balloon" theme.

As long as I'm at it, here's the movie poster for Emergency Hospital, the other half of the double feature which, like Dance With Me, Henry, was released by United Artists.

I hate to say it, but I was never a big Abbott & Costello fan – Laurel & Hardy were more my speed. (However, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) is a favorite of mine.)
I was actually exposed to the Abbott & Costello TV cartoons (made by Hanna-Barbera) before I ever saw one of their films. It was strange finding out that Bud Abbott voiced his own animated character!

As for their actual movies, I always thought that the characters that Bud Abbott played were needlessly mean and cruel to the hapless Costello. Abbott did get his comeuppance once in a while though, and he does in a few scenes in Dance With Me, Henry.

How good a movie was Dance With Me, Henry? Well, you can watch it right now, since someone kindly uploaded a good copy of it to YouTube. Hey, Abbott!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Walter Reed... Was he the star of the movie, or was that the Hospital? lol