That Scene From ‘The Naughty Nineties’ (1945)

“Hey, have you seen this movie? What did you think about THAT SCENE?!” We have all used that phrase at one point during our discussions of movies with the other person’s eyebrows raising, “Oh yea, THAT SCENE!” You go on to pick that memorable scene apart by listing what you loved or didn’t like, how it made you feel and the impression it left on you. 

In this series, we will do just that. We will take a scene from a movie and discuss its impact on us. Some of these scenes may be frightening, weird, iconic, controversial, hilarious, and everything in between. Let us know your impression of the scene and the impact it left on you the first time you watched it down below in the comments. Enjoy!

 *Warning: May Contain Spoilers*

Movie: The Naughty Nineties (1945)

Scene: Who’s on first?


Director: Jean Yarbrough

Characters: Dexter Broadhurst (Bud Abbott) and Sebastian Dinwiddle (Lou Costello)


The time is the 1890s. Captain Sam, owner of the showboat River Queen, travels along the Mississippi River bringing honest entertainment to each town. At a stop in Ironville, he meets Crawford, Bonita, and Bailey, who are wanted by the local sheriff. Against the advice of his daughter Caroline, his lead actor Dexter Broadhurst, and his chief roustabout Sebastian Dinwiddle, the Captain joins them for a card game at a local gambling house.

The Captain is plied with alcohol until he is intoxicated and gets involved in a crooked card game where he loses controlling interest in the show boat to Bonita and Crawford. They turn the showboat into a floating gambling casino with every game rigged in their favor. Dexter and Sebastian help the captain regain ownership of his vessel and oust the unwanted criminals.



This is without a doubt one of, if not THE greatest comedy routines of all time. Sure it’s close descendant from turn-of-the-century burlesque sketches that used plays on words and names. But my god is it funny. Bud Abbott stated that it was taken from an older routine called “Who’s The Boss?”, a performance of which can be heard in an episode of the radio comedy program It Pays to Be Ignorant from the 1940s. After Abbott and Costello officially teamed up in 1936, they continued to hone the sketch and it was a big hit for them in the fall of 1937, when they performed the routine in a touring vaudeville revue called Hollywood Bandwagon. The duo performed “Who’s on First?” numerous times in their careers, rarely performing it exactly the same way twice. This longer version is widely considered their finest recorded rendition and is the one that now plays continuously on screens at the  National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.

What do you think of this scene? Did it make you laugh?

Author: K. Alvarez

A king without a throne.