Bus drivers Algy (Bud Abbott) and Wellington (Lou Costello) have "liberated" their vehicle from their usual city route and are now travelling cross country to Los Angeles. They have passengers consisting of rich playboy Tommy Layton (Robert Paige) and a group of his female admirers and are heading for the coast so that he can set sail on his yacht. Before they reach there, however, they need a full tank of gas and Wellington speeds up so they can reach the nearest service station before their fuel runs out. Little do they know the adventure they have embarked on...
The second biggest Hollywood movie of 1942 after Mrs Miniver, and Abbott and Costello's biggest success of their career to that time, Pardon My Sarong was an attempt to cash in on the hit series of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope Road films. Perhaps that's the reason the script, by True Boardman, John Grant and Nat Perrin (future producer of The Addams Family on the small screen), is so episodic, with a stop-start structure that never really settles into a smooth comedy ride.
Far be it from me to criticise the taste of the American movie-going public at the time, but this wasn't the best Abbott and Costello film either, despite how well it did at the box office. There are some good lines and routines, but they are somewhat lost in a sea of musical numbers and plot contrivances that make it seem as if you're watching an elaborate revue instead of a proper movie. This is especially noticeable because the duo only appear rarely with the musical acts.
There are compensations, though for the first half hour you may be puzzling over that title. Algy and Wellington spend that first third attempting to evade a private detective who has been despatched by their bosses to serve an arrest warrant, but fortunately he's played by William Demarest and proves a reliable foil. There's also the uncommon sight of Abbot having a routine to perform all on his own as he dresses up as a French magician (complete with ridiculous dialogue) to fool the detective and he does pretty well.
But the fellow everybody wanted to see was Costello, and he duly acts up for the benefit of the camera. Abbott always played the bully to his character, but there are a couple of instances where he goes too far even for the over the top antics of these two: Algy eats Wellington's rations and then tries to persuade him to commit suicide when it looks like the yacht they are on is set to drift in the Pacific. It's a bit much, but once they land on a tropical island Algy mellows, it must be the climate.
Uninteresting Tommy has uninteresting romantic scenes with seawoman Joan (Virgina Bruce), but Wellington hits the jackpot when the resident princess expresses an interest in him. Then there's the baddie Lionel Atwill who is after the jewels hidden in the forbidden temple, which ends up with the bizarre sight of Lou Costello brawling with Atwill on a motorboat for the film's climax. Pardon My Sarong is not without interest, and some of it hits the funny bone, but it's a jumble for the most part, with the least convincing South Sea islanders you ever did see (although beautiful princess Nan Wynn could pass for the real thing). There are better Abbott and Costello films out there, even if this one does have a comedy seal in it.
American director who made over 100 films in a 50 year career. Worked as a bit-part actor before making his feature debut in 1919, and was best known for directing comedies, including two of Abbott & Costello’s best films – Pardon My Sarong and Who Done It?. Kenton also proved adept in the horror genre, directing the 1933 classic Island of Lost Souls, with Charles Laughton, as well as House of Dracula, Ghost of Frankenstein and The Cat Creeps. Died from Parkinson's disease in 1980.