HIT THE ICE smacked the screens in mid-1943, not the happiest time in World History. The 11th movie in three years from the wildly popular comedy team of Abbott & Costello, it’s a typically silly 82-minute confection (Bud is ‘Flash Fulton’ and Lou is ‘Tubby McCoy’) and good for a slew of laughs from their patter and pratfalls. Interestingly, apart from the presence of men in uniform among the extras, the script doesn’t make any mention of the war.
They play sidewalk photographers who are mistaken for Detroit mob hitmen by a trio of hoods (Sheldon Leonard, Marc Lawrence and Joseph Sawyer): the shenanigans end in Sun Valley’s ski resort, and include a human-snowball gag that I thought was hilarious as a child (it’s still pretty funny). “You couldn’t whip cream with an outboard motor.” The rejoinder to “Hey. Where’s the fire?” is a classic: “In your eyes.”
Making around $5,000,000, it was directed by Charles Lamont, the first of eight he’d handle for the duo (he also pulled joke duty on four ‘Ma and Pa Kettle’ flicks). With Patric Knowles, Ginny Simms and Elyse Knox. The success of the film was about all Costello had going for him that year. After a nine-month bout with rheumatic fever kept him bedridden for most of the year, on the day he returned to work on their radio show, Lou’s one-year old son drowned in the family’s swimming pool.