Blog

08/13/2015 19:12

Film: Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Year: 1953

Director: Charles Lamont

Writer: Lee Loeb and John Grant

Starring: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello and Boris Karloff

 

Review:

This film begins with a presentable man walking down a London street. We see a monster emerge from a building. The man is attacked by the monster and is killed. We see someone come to investigate and we learn that the man was a doctor.

The next morning we see a man reading a newspaper, he is played by Craig Stevens. After reading the story, he sees someone lying on the ground behind him in the bushes. Stevens thinks him to be a victim of the monster, but it turns out to be a man sleeping.

From here we see a group of women who are trying to get support for women’s suffrage. They are led by Helen Westcott. They break out in a song to talk about their struggles and some men decide they have heard enough. A riot breaks out and the police show up.

This is where we meet our stars, played by Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. They try to break up the riot, but it turns into a slapstick comedy routine that ends up with Costello being beat up by a woman. Everyone involved is taken to jail.

The women all make bail as does Stevens. Abbott and Costello are brought to the inspector’s office; he is played by Reginald Denny. We learn that they are Americans who were sent over to train with the police force in London. They are both kicked off for messing up.

We then see who posted the bail, it is a doctor who has been a part of Westcott’s life and has helped raise her, the doctor is played by Boris Karloff. He asks Westcott to come over for dinner, but she declines, having a show that night. Stevens joins them, much to the displeasure of Karloff. They all talk until they get to Karloff’s home, when Stevens goes with Westcott to her show in Karloff’s carriage.

In his lab we meet his giant assistant and we learn that Karloff has loved Westcott for awhile and he wants her to be his wife. We learn the monster we saw was Karloff, when he drinks his serum and becomes Mr. Hyde. Karloff transforms into the monster and goes to the theater that Westcott performs at.

Abbott and Costello decide they need to do something big to get re-instated into the force. Abbott says they should catch the monster. As they approach the theater, they see Karloff climb the wall. The two former cops think he is just a burglar, but decide to catch him.

As they search for Karloff, they see an actor in costume and they have to do what they can to get past the guard. Costello come face-to-face with Karloff and the chase is on. Abbott and Stevens join him to help catch the monster.

The chase takes them to the rooftops and finally to a wax museum. After some funny antics with some of the wax figures, Costello locks Karloff in a jail cell. He turns back to Dr. Jekyll and the cops scold Abbott and Costello for locking a respected member of society up.

Karloff is not upset with them and asks them to come back to his home. We think it is to be nice, but it is to take care of them, as Costello noticed his ring. His assistant tries to, but this leads to Costello finding his laboratory. Karloff then shows the lab to Abbott and Costello, with Costello drinking some weird liquid.

Abbott does not believe Karloff is the monster until Costello becomes a mouse from the drink. They are now trying to prove to Westcott, Stevens and the police that Karloff is the monster. Will they be able to prove he is the monster? Or will they be silenced before they can?

What I thought was very interesting about this film was that we did not meet the stars for almost 10-15 minutes into the movie and I like that they did it that way. This one felt more like a horror movie than it did a comedy. I thought the introduction of Abbott and Costello was great and the transition to following them was very well done. This is not an overly scary movie, but I found this to be one of the better Universal horror films. From what I have found out, it was near the end of this era of horror movies and I think they did very well in the one to balance the horror with comedy.

The acting in this one is pretty solid; you get what you expect out of Abbott and Costello. They are cops in this one and are bumbling, like usual. Their comedy is solid. Karloff was very good in this one, per usual, as well. I also liked the morphing into the monster they do in this one. We see Karloff change and Costello change not once, but twice into two different monsters. The technology is not great, but with the times it was good. Stevens and Westcott do well in their supporting roles.

This is a solid horror/comedy from the duo Abbott and Costello. If you like their films, I would recommend giving this one a viewing. If you like Karloff, he is at his usual best. His portrayal as a ‘good’ doctor has good duality as he has a dark-side before he changes and he is great as the monster Hyde. If you are a fan of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tales, I would say give this one a viewing on it. It is a nice change to it while still preserving characters and ideas that make that story great. It is from the 50s and in black-and-white. If that is an issue, then avoid this one, but if you want to see an earlier cross-over film, give it a view.

 

My Rating: 6 out of 10

08/13/2015 19:08

Film: Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man

Year: 1951

Director: Charles Lamont

Writer: Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo and John Grant

Starring: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello and Nancy Guild

 

Review:

This film begins at a detective school graduation. We meet our stars Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Abbott has graduated and there is a joke cracked that Costello is graduating, because the school was paid off to get him out. They get a job together at a local agency.

They get the nightshift and their first job comes through their door. The man who comes in is played by Arthur Franz. There is a news bulletin about a man escaping from jail and the description matches Franz. Costello catches on, but Abbott does not think it could be. Franz asks them to take him to an address.

They all arrive there and Franz goes upstairs, while Abbott and Costello stay downstairs. Franz meets his girlfriend, played by Nancy Guild, and a doctor friend, played by Gavin Muir. At this point it brings up the original ‘The Invisible Man’ film where they claim that Muir was given the serum which made that man invisible. He shows that it works on a guinea pig. Franz asks him to inject him with it so he can clear his name, as he is accused of killing his manager. Muir tells him that there is no agent to return him to being seen and the serum drives those that use it crazy.

While they are talking, another bulletin comes over the television and Abbott realizes that it really is Franz. He wants to turn him in for the reward and as they are talking, the police arrive. They are led by William Frawley. Guild and Muir leave Franz alone to get the police to leave. Franz injects himself with the serum.

He goes downstairs and Abbott tells him they will hide him. Abbott locks Costello and Franz in a room together and the serum begins to work, Franz is now invisible. Abbott brings the cops to the room and they open it to find Costello alone and a pile of clothes. Frawley wants to take Costello to the police shrink, believing he is crazy. We get a funny scene as well where Abbott is accused by Franz for double crossing him and hitting him. Abbott accuses Costello of doing it.

We then get a funny scene of Costello driving the police shrink, played by Paul Maxey, insane and then hypnotizing most of the force. Maxey and Frawley eventually kick Abbott and Costello out of the station and they go back to their office. Waiting for them is Guild and she says Franz wants to retain them to help clear his name. They are given $500 and a suitcase full of clothes.

They go meet him and Abbott once again tries to double-cross Franz. He strips down again and cannot be seen. Another scene of him slapping around Abbott happens and now he realizes that Franz really is invisible.

The trio goes to the gym that Franz trained at and they see the man that he was supposed to take a dive against sparring in the ring. The boxer is played by John Daheim. He is a jerk and we learn that he is upset that his mob boss, who is played by Sheldon Leonard, wanted Franz to take a dive against him.

Franz gives aid to Costello to get him into the fight with Daheim. Abbott steps up as his manager and Franz wants Costello to go through all the motions that he and his manager did so he can prove that he was really framed.

Will Costello be able to survive being in the ring with Daheim? Will Abbott survive if Costello does not dive? Will Franz be cured before he goes insane? Will his name be cleared? Will Muir find an agent to save him?

I have seen a few Abbott and Costello films and I do enjoy them. This one I was not as impressed by. I did like the going invisible scene. I liked the story for the most part, as I know boxing is quite the corrupt sport and that really is backed up by this one. I like the slapstick and wordplay comedy of Abbott and Costello, as well as how the horror elements are blended well together. I also like how Frawley is consistently being confused by Franz and what Abbott and Costello do in front of him. It makes him think he is losing his mind and really we know that it is not true.

What I was did not care for were with the invisible aspects. A lot of my problems come from lack of technology at the time where he smokes, drinks and eats, but every time he does any of this, it becomes invisible inside him before it technically should. It does not ruin the film, but I am not sure the film thought it through enough. I also was not a huge fan of the boxing match and any fights that Costello is involved in with Franz helping. Everyone pretends like they see him punch and claim he is super fast, but we can clearly see that his hands do not move. Again not a huge problem and the characters in the film need to explain it to themselves so they are not crazy, but I was not a fan of it.

If you like Abbott and Costello movies, I would give this one a viewing. This was one of my least favorite ones, but still is worth the time to see it. The comedy is good for the time period and the blend of horror is good as well. This one adds in sports with the boxing, but I was not a big fan of that part. Pretty good horror/comedy I would say.

 

My Rating: 5 out of 10

08/13/2015 19:01

Film: Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff

Year: 1949

Director: Charles Barton

Writer: Hugh Wedlock Jr., Howard Snyder, John Grant and Oscar Brodney

Starring: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello and Boris Karloff

 

Review:

This film begins at a hotel near a place called Lost Caverns. A bunch of newspaper people are there and there is buzz about a famous defense lawyer coming to stay, he is played by Nicholas Joy. When he arrives and checks in, a bumbling bellhop creates a mess of things, the bellhop is played by Lou Costello. He ends up getting fired for his antics. Costello threatens Joy and we see Bud Abbott, who is a manager, whisks him away.

Costello goes to apologize to Joy, but finds him dead. Others discover what is going in the room, making Costello the prime suspect in the murder. The police arrive and begin their investigation.

In Costello’s room, Abbott tries to make sense of what is going on and Costello pulls out a handkerchief he accidentally took from Joy’s room, with his blood on it. He also finds a gun in his bed and tries to explain. Abbott believes he did not do it, but he has a lot to prove.

It turns out that there are other people staying at the hotel that Joy had defended and there are telegraphs saying he was going to write a book of their cases. This makes a hotel full of suspects. Can Abbott and Costello prove that Costello is not the one who did it before it is too late? Is the legendary Boris Karloff the killer or is he trying to pin the murders on Costello so he will not take the heat?

I have to say that this is a great blend of ‘who-done-it’ horror and slapstick comedy. Costello is great as bumbling bellhop who uses a lot of puns and other comedy he was known for. He plays well off of Abbott who seems to be the intelligent one, but he also adds to the comedy. They make quite the pair.

Karloff does not have a large part in this, but he does have a couple scenes of hypnotizing Costello, which turns into a comedy routine.

The story was actually really solid in this as well. Most of the movie follows Abbott and Costello as they prove his innocence. The audience knows he did not do it, but the way things are found point to him. As the title implies, it makes you think that Karloff is the killer, but there some nice twists that make you wonder as well. There are some things that if you are quick to catch make a lot of sense in the end.

I was really surprised by this blend of comedy and horror. This one is not all that scary, but there is a lot of comedy mixed with elements of the horror genre. If you like Abbott and Costello, I would definitely give this a watch. If you like Karloff, he is solid in the little screen time he gets, but it is not a lot. It is in black and white, as well as from the 1940s, so I would keep that in mind. Other than that, this is one is pretty solid.

 

My Rating: 7 out of 10

08/13/2015 15:43

Film: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Year: 1948

Director: Charles Barton

Writer: Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo and John Grant

Starring: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello and Lon Chaney Jr.

 

Review:

This film begins in London. Inside of a hotel room making a call is the wolf-man, played by Lon Chaney Jr. He is making a call to the states and it is answered by Lou Costello. Along with his friend, played by Bud Abbott, they work a baggage claim. Chaney tells Costello not to let two boxes make it to the house of horrors in town because inside are the coffin of Dracula as well as the remains of Frankenstein’s monster.

He is ignored and the boxes are delivered. We meet both of the female leads inside, one is really an insurance investigator who followed the boxes because they were insured for so much, she is played by Jane Randolph. The other is Costello’s girlfriend, who is played by Lenore Aubert.

Abbott and Costello go to the house of horrors to deliver the boxes and prove they aren’t damaged, but while this happens, Costello finds out that both Dracula, who is played by Bela Lugosi, and Frankenstein’s monster, who is played by Glenn Strange, are both very much alive and escape.

Lugosi then meets up with Aubert, who we realize wants to take Costello’s brain and put it inside the monster to make him completely obedient. Chaney arrives that day to help them put a stop to Lugosi. Can they do it before he realizes his horrible plans? Can Chaney keep it together and help them before the full moon turns him into the terrible monster he is? Will anyone believe Costello?

This film is interesting in that, it is a comedy. Costello is hilarious to me and he plays very well off of Abbott, which was their bit and I can see why it was successful. On top of that though, it does carry a good storyline that was popular in the 1940s horror.

The only problem I had with Universal was they decide to bring all their popular monsters together and make complicated stories. In the end though, in the end it doesn’t really seem to work for me. The lower running time means that these big actors do not get enough time on screen and that hurts the film.

If you like the old horror films, I would give this one a viewing. It does blend that style of horror very well with humor which is fun to see. There are quite a few parts that had me laughing. If you’re not into the slapstick/play on words comedy of Abbott and Costello, I would avoid this one. If both of these things sound like something you’d be interested in, I would definitely recommend it. It isn’t the best, but it is enjoyable.

 

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Items: 521 - 524 of 524
<< 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53