For the second half of today’s Abbott and Costello double-feature, we have their 1953 movie Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.
A series of murders have hit Hyde Park in London, all committed by a monster of a man. At a suffragette meeting, reporter Bruce Adams (Craig Stevens) meets and becomes interested in their leader, dance hall girl Vicky Edwards (Helen Westcott). However, a fight breaks out, and American policemen Slim (Bud Abbott) and Tubby (Lou Costello) try to break it up. They fail, and are thrown in jail with everybody else. Everybody is bailed out by Dr. Henry Jekyll (Boris Karloff), who has taken care of Vicky for some time. He gives Vicky a ride to the dance hall, and Bruce invites himself along. Dr. Jekyll has his driver drop him off at his home, while Vicky and Bruce go on to the dance hall. Once in the house, Dr. Jekyll goes to his secret laboratory, where he vents his frustrations to his assistant, Batley (John Dierkes). He is now mad at Bruce’s interference with Vicky, as he himself has been in love with Vicky for a long time. Dr. Jekyll decides to inject himself with his serum, thus turning into the monstrous Mr. Hyde, and he goes to the dance hall to kill Bruce. As for Slim and Tubby, the riot resulted in them being thrown off the force. While walking home, they see Mr. Hyde trying to get into the dance hall and, thinking he’s a burglar, try to capture him. They end up chasing him away before he can do anything, and, with Bruce’s aid, they try to follow him on the rooftops. They lose him, and decide to split up. Tubby goes into a wax museum, where Mr. Hyde is hiding (yep, that was intended). Tubby is able to capture Mr. Hyde, but, before he can return with anybody, the serum wears off, turning him back into Dr. Jekyll. Slim and Tubby are in trouble with the police inspector again, but Dr. Jekyll asks the two of them to accompany him home and stay there for the night. Tubby finds himself unable to sleep, so he explores the house. He finds Dr. Jekyll’s laboratory, and runs into Batley. He gets away and tries to tell Slim. He also wakes up Dr. Jekyll, who admits to having a lab, and shows them. He leaves for a moment to get something to kill them, but Tubby drinks something and wanders off, with Slim following behind. When they both see that Tubby has turned into a man-sized mouse (an effect that quickly wears off), they go try to tell both Bruce and Vicky. By the time they get back, Dr. Jekyll has all his lab equipment hidden, making Slim and Tubby look foolish. Bruce asks Dr. Jekyll for Vicky’s hand in marriage, to which he agrees (at least until Bruce leaves, and then he reveals his true colors). Vicky calls Bruce back, and in the commotion, Dr. Jekyll accidentally injects himself with the serum, turning him back into Mr. Hyde (and, unknown to everyone else, Tubby accidentally gets injected as well). All of this results in a chase through London as everybody tries to catch the monster. But which one is which?
Of the four main films from the Abbott and Costello/monster mash-ups, I would argue that this one is the weakest of the bunch. One of the biggest problems is how much it strays from the source material. As I recall, the idea was that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were supposed to be two different sides of the same man, with Dr. Jekyll appalled by some of the things that Mr. Hyde does. Here, they seem to be one and the same, with Dr. Jekyll being quite willing to kill and be unkind to others, although he uses Mr. Hyde as a cover-up so that he himself is not implicated. Then, there’s the werewolf aspect, whereby a bite from Lou’s Tubby, when he has been turned into the monster near the end of the movie, turns others into the monster (instead of relying on the serum). Of course, Bud and Lou are still fun to watch, but it definitely feels formulaic, especially with them relying more on slapstick and not so much on their comedy routines.
Still, in spite of my lower opinion of this movie, it still makes for a decent Halloween movie. Admittedly, the scares are not as good compared to Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein, but that one is tough to beat. In the wax museum, we do get wax models of both Dracula and the Frankenstein monster (plus a dangling wire that causes the Frankenstein monster to move a little), which at least helps the Halloween atmosphere. Again, I don’t think very highly of this movie, and any other time of the year, I would not recommend this one, but around Halloween, I’m a bit more forgiving of this film’s issues. So, maybe give this one a try at this time of the year!
This movie is available on Blu-ray from Shout Factory as part of the 28 film The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection, and is one hour, seventeen minutes in length.
My Rating: 5/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Coming Up Shorts! with… The Chump Champ (1950)
(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, 14 seconds)
Droopy and Spike compete in a variety of sports. With the offer of a kiss from the Queen of Sports, Spike does all he can to cheat to win (although everything, and I do mean everything, that he does backfires on him). The relationship between Droopy and Spike makes this work, and that’s all that needs to be said! Enough good laughs just like I expect with any Droopy cartoon!
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!