Starting off today’s Abbott and Costello double-feature is their 1951 movie Abbott And Costello Meet the Invisible Man.
Having just graduated from a detective school, Bud Alexander (Bud Abbott) and his buddy, Lou Francis (Lou Costello), join a big detective agency. Their first customer requires their help to get to the home of his girlfriend, Helen Gray (Nancy Guild), and her uncle, Dr. Philip Gray (Gavin Muir). There, Bud and Lou realize their customer is boxer Tommy Nelson (Arthur Franz), who is currently wanted for the murder of his fight manager, and Bud decides to turn him in to the police for the reward money. Unknown to him, though, Dr. Philip showed Tommy a serum that would make him invisible, and, while nobody was looking, Tommy injected the serum into himself. The police arrive, led by Detective Roberts (William Frawley), but they fail to find the now invisible Tommy, and take Bud and Lou in for questioning. Since Lou observed Tommy turning invisible, they have the psychiatrist try to talk to him, without success. Once Bud and Lou are let go, Helen tells them to meet Tommy later with a suitcase. Bud tries to take advantage and bring in the police, but, Tommy still being invisible, he fails again. Tommy decides to bring them in on his plan, and has them help him clear his name. They take Lou to the local gym, where, with Tommy’s help, he starts to look like a promising boxer (especially when he knocks out boxer Rocky Hanlon, played by John Day). Tommy’s plan really starts to work when a fight between Lou (now being called Louie The Looper) and Rocky is scheduled, and mobster Morgan (Sheldon Leonard), who is betting heavily on Rocky, sends his girlfriend Boots Marsden (Adele Jergens) to get Lou to fix the fight. However, Tommy starts to get drunk and a little crazy when celebrating, and Dr. Gray tries to keep him strapped down. Meanwhile, Bud and Lou start to consider throwing the fight, but Tommy gets there and pushes Lou to fight. But, can they win and clear Tommy?
While Abbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man is one of the better-known entries in the series of Abbott and Costello/monster movie mashups, that wasn’t originally the plan. The film was conceived as another regular entry in the Invisible Man series, but after the success of (you guessed it) Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein, plans were changed to include Bud and Lou. Of course, the script went through a number of changes as they decided to build it around one gag in particular, that of Lou in the boxing ring with an invisible helper. Of course, it wasn’t too much of a stretch for Lou to play a boxer, as he had at one point been an amateur boxer himself.
For me, this is one of their better outings. It may not be as horror-oriented as Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein, which works just fine for me. The special effects work really well here, for the most part (of course, some stuff doesn’t look as good now, but that’s bound to happen on some things). That boxing match is a lot of fun, but I know I enjoyed many other moments, too! One that comes to mind is when Lou is being examined by the police psychiatrist, Dr. Turner (as played by Paul Maxey), where he tries to hypnotize Lou, but Lou ends up hypnotizing him and everybody that comes into the room! And William Frawley as the head detective is also fun, as he tries to keep up with Bud and Lou and what they are up to! I will admit, I have not seen any of the other classic Invisible Man films, but my biggest “disappointment” with this movie is that I wish they could have gotten Vincent Price to be the Invisible Man (since he had a quick cameo “appearance” at the end of Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein). Don’t get me wrong, Arthur Franz does a pretty good job here, and I really can’t quite see the story being the same if Vincent Price had done the movie, but it’s still wishful thinking. Again, though, I enjoy seeing this movie every now and then, and I would easily recommend giving it a try (and seeing it again and again after that)!
This movie is available on Blu-ray either individually or as part of the Invisible Man collection from Universal Studios or as part of the 28 film The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection from Shout Factory, and is one hour, twenty-two minutes in length.
My Rating: 9/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Coming Up Shorts! with… Big Heel-Watha (1944)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection)
Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.
Welcome to my new feature on various theatrical shorts! Sometimes my comments will be on shorts included as extras on a disc set I am reviewing, and other times, they will be completely unrelated to the movie being reviewed (and I will try to indicate which). Hope you enjoy!
(Length: 7 minutes, 46 seconds)
Big Heel-Watha has to hunt don Screwy Squirrel to find some meat for his tribe. Ok, so this one obviously deals with a lot of Native American stereotypes, so it has its issues. Still, it has its fun. Screwy Squirrel may not be the lead character here, but a lot of the fun gags are connected to him. Throw in the chief’s daughter, who also seems to be a source of humor here, and it’s got enough good points to be worth trying! I know I enjoy watching it!
And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring cartoons by Tex Avery (and the eventual post on the entire Volume 1 set), along with other shorts!