One Night in the Tropics

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One Night in the Tropics
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Directed byA. Edward Sutherland
Written by
Produced byLeonard Spigelgass
CinematographyJoseph A. Valentine
Edited byMilton Carruth
Music by
Universal Pictures
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • November 15, 1940 (1940-11-15)
Running time
82 minutes
Budgetover $500,000[1]

One Night in the Tropics is a 1940 comedy film which was the film debut of Abbott and Costello. They are listed as supporting actors but have major exposure with five of their classic routines, including an abbreviated version of "Who's on First?" Their work earned them a two-picture deal with Universal, and their next film, Buck Privates, made them bona fide stars. Songs in the film were by Jerome Kern with lyrics by Dorothy Fields. The film is based on a 1914 novel, Love Insurance by Earl Derr Biggers, the creator of Charlie Chan.[2]

It was filmed as a silent movie in 1919 as Love Insurance by Paramount Pictures with Bryant Washburn and Lois Wilson, and in 1925 by Universal as The Reckless Age.


Jim "Lucky" Moore, an insurance salesman, devises a novel policy for his friend, Steve: a 'love insurance policy', that will pay out $1-million if Steve does not marry his fiancée, Cynthia. Encouraged by Jim's argument that Jim has never had to pay out on a policy so that the marriage is a sure thing, Steve accepts. The upcoming marriage is jeopardized by Steve's ex-girlfriend, Mickey, and Cynthia's disapproving Aunt Kitty. The policy is underwritten by a nightclub owner, Roscoe, who sends two enforcers to ensure that the wedding occurs as planned. Everyone involved in the situation winds up sailing or flying to San Marcos (a fictional South American country), where another complication develops, when Lucky becomes enamored of Cynthia. Lucky eventually marries Cynthia, but Roscoe does not have to pay the $1-million because Steve marries Mickey.



One Night in the Tropics was filmed from August 26 through September 30, 1940 under the film's working title, Riviera, an unproduced Jerome Kern musical from 1937 originally planned for Danielle Darrieux;[2][3]

It was hoped that the film would ease Universal's financial plight. It did little to help, but led to a string of Abbott and Costello films that did save Universal.[4]

Kern's songs were reused in the film.[5][6]

It had several working titles before Universal settled on One Night in the Tropics, including Moonlight in the Tropics, Love Insurance, and Caribbean Holiday.[7]


Just prior to the beginning of production, on August 21, 1940, Jones and Cummings were guests on Abbott and Costello's radio show and promoted the film.

World premiere[edit]

The film had its world premiere in Costello's home town of Paterson, New Jersey on October 30, 1940.[2]


The film was re-released (at 69 minutes) by Realart Pictures in 1950 with The Naughty Nineties and in 1954 with Little Giant.[2]

Home media[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, and again on October 28, 2008, as part of Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection.


  1. ^ "United States Court of Appeals For the Ninth Circuit – Universal vs Cummings 1944". Internet Archive. p. 94.
  2. ^ a b c d Furmanek, Bob & Ron Palumbo (1991), Abbott and Costello in Hollywood, New York: Perigee Books, ISBN 978-0-399-51605-4
  3. ^ "United States Court of Appeals For the Ninth Circuit – Cummings vs Universal 1944". Internet Archive. p. 565.
  4. ^ Green, Stanley (1999). Hollywood Musicals Year by Year (2 ed.). Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 98. ISBN 0-634-00765-3.
  5. ^ Hemming, Roy (1999), The Melody Lingers On: The Great Songwriters and Their Movie Musicals, Newmarket Press, p. 105, ISBN 978-1-55704-380-1
  6. ^ "Screen News Here and in Hollywood". The New York Times. July 31, 1940. ProQuest 105290980.
  7. ^ Nollen, Scott Allen (2009). Abbott and Costello on the Home Front: A Critical Study of the Wartime Films – via Google Books.

External links[edit]