Keep 'Em Flying

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Keep 'Em Flying
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Arthur Lubin
Produced by Glenn Tryon
Written by True Boardman
Nat Perrin
John Grant
Starring Bud Abbott
Lou Costello
Martha Raye
Dick Foran
Carol Bruce
Music by Charles Previn
Edited by Philip Cahn
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • November 28, 1941 (1941-11-28)
Running time
86 min
Country United States
Language English

Keep 'Em Flying is a 1941 film starring the comedy team of Abbott and Costello. The film was the third service comedy based on the peacetime draft of 1940. The comedy team appeared in two previous service comedies in 1941, before the United States entered the war: Buck Privates released in January, and In the Navy released in May. The movie title is taken from the official motto of the Army Air Force.


Jinx Roberts (Dick Foran) is a stunt pilot and his assistants are Blackie (Bud Abbott) and Heathcliffe (Lou Costello). All three are fired from the carnival and air show that they work for after a disagreement. Jinx decides that he should join the Army Air Force, so they go to a nightclub to party one last time. While there Jinx falls for the club's singer, Linda Joyce (Carol Bruce). Coincidentally, she becomes a USO hostess at the same Academy that Jinx and her brother, Jimmy (Charles Lang) are enrolled at. It turns out that Jinx's instructor, Craig Morrison (William Gargan), was his co-pilot on a commercial airplane years earlier, and the two still hold animosity for each other. Meanwhile, Blackie and Heathcliffe join the air corps as ground crewman and fall in love with twin USO hostesses (Martha Raye in a dual role).

Jinx attempts to help Jimmy solo, nearly getting him killed. For his efforts, Jinx is hated by Linda for nearly killing her brother and is dishonorably discharged from the corps, along with his assistants Blackie and Heathcliffe (who were discharged for their own mishaps). As they are leaving, Craig gets his parachute caught on the tail end of the plane that he just jumped out of. Jinx confiscates a plane and comes to his rescue. For his heroic actions, he is allowed back into the corps and gets back Linda.[1]


Keep 'Em Flying was filmed at the Cal-Aero school in Ontario, California from September 5-October 29, 1941 under the working title Up in the Air. Costello's brother, Pat, was used as Lou's stunt double.[2]

Although it was filmed after Ride 'Em Cowboy, it was released first to coincide with the War Department's Keep 'Em Flying Week.[2]

Academy Award anomaly[edit]

One of the songs from the film, “Pig Foot Pete,” received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. However, the Academy attributed the song to another Universal Pictures release, Hellzapoppin', even though it was not used in that production.[3]


It was re-released with Ride 'Em Cowboy in 1949, and with Buck Privates in 1953.[2]

DVD release[edit]

This film has been released twice on DVD. The first time, on The Best of Abbott and Costello Volume One, on February 10, 2004,[4] and again on October 28, 2008 as part of Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection.[5]


External links[edit]