2022: Year In Review + Top 10 Movies Watched

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve, everybody, and it’s time to take a look back at the year 2022. The year started off normally enough (although I did try to pull back from doing entries in my “What’s Old Is A New Release Again” series every week like I’ve done in the past, as that had felt like I was doing too much). I renamed my February 1 posts (which have generally been on films starring Clark Gable) as The King Of Hollywood And I: A Birthday Celebration, due to my shared birthday with him. However, that was as far as I got, as I never finished my logo for that series before events at home delayed a number of things I was trying to do (as I hinted at in my Upcoming Changes For The “Thoughts From The Music(al) Man” Blog post), and left me with no choice but to take the month of April off (apart from my Easter Sunday post). In May, I was able to resume my Thoughts From The Music(al) Man and Star/Genre Of The Month series on Sundays (albeit with biweekly posts as opposed to weekly like I had been doing since I started blogging), and I started doing roundups on multiple films (instead of individuals) for my What’s Old Is A New Release Again series.

Regrettably, those changes haven’t quite been enough, as I referenced more recently in my Changes Ahead Again post. I am still trying to continue into 2023, but, like I had thought when I wrote that post, I have to pull back even further by ending the Star/Genre Of The Month series that I’ve been doing since 2021, and just do one regular Thoughts From The Music(al) Man post per month (although there might be a few exceptions here and there). I will be trying to continue my What’s Old Is A New Release Again series as roundups, but with a few new changes. I’m going to finish out the series on 2022 releases the same way that I’ve been doing so far (which at most means one or two new posts along with some updates to the 4K UHD Roundup and Bob Hope And Dorothy Lamour Roundup, since they’re the only two posts with more releases that I haven’t seen yet). Once I start in on the 2023 releases (which is likely to be in May), I will be doing one post per month in the series (regardless of format, star, etc.). The plan will be to do either a regular review if I only saw one new release the month before, or do roundups for two or more titles (still debating whether or not I will impose a maximum of four films per post every month with the possible exceptions of November and March, although multi-film box sets *might* get their own posts). The big change is that this series will no longer be posted on Wednesdays, but Sundays. My plan is to do my Thoughts From The Music(al) Man posts on the first or second Sundays of the month (although there may occasionally be exceptions) and What’s Old Is A New Release Again Roundups two weeks after that, with the exceptions for the roundups in November (where it will be the last Sunday before Thanksgiving) and March (the last Sunday of the month). Outside of special posts (mostly the “Year In Review” and “Top 10 Disc Releases” plus whatever might be centered on special days), all other posts will also be on Sundays from now on. Hopefully, doing things this way will allow me to keep going for a bit longer.

But, enough about the changes to the blog. What we were all here for was the movies, and, even though I had to pull back on how many films I reviewed per month, I still got in a number of good movies for the year. Like in 2021, I spent most of the year focusing on various movie stars every month (albeit not in blogathon form after the first few months), featuring actors and actresses (and screen teams) like Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy (January), Deanna Durbin (February), Bing Crosby (March), Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour (May), Frank Sinatra (June), Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (July), Audrey Hepburn (August) and W. C. Fields (November), with one detour in September focusing on musical screen teams. There really wasn’t much of a focus on anything besides that, since everything that happened forced me to pull back almost entirely in April, and, outside of this month’s two Christmas films and finishing up the Thin Man film series earlier this year, I didn’t really go in for anything specific (just watching a few of the movies I was given for Christmas 2021 and my birthday). I had a handful of big discoveries this year, particularly The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962), a bunch of new-to-me W. C. Fields films and the new West Side Story (2021). Almost everything else was movies I had seen before (or films that I didn’t have *quite* as high an opinion of). But, I still enjoyed watching more movies with familiar stars and genres, so there was that!

And with all that said, here’s my list of the top 10 movies that I watched/reviewed for the year 2022, culled from the list of 2022 reviews, plus 2021 releases reviewed after January 1, 2021 and 2022 releases reviewed before December 31, 2022 (also a few films released on disc in prior years, but obviously they’re included in the 2022 reviews).  While I was able to enjoy watching a great many movies, some new and some I’ve seen before, the movies on this list are those I enjoyed the most, and would recommend to anybody that is interested!  And if any of these appeal to you, be sure to click on the movie titles to go to Amazon and support this site!

  1. Top Hat (1935) (Warner Home Video, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Top Hat (1935)
    • The top spot for 2022 belongs to the one and only Top Hat! Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers play a couple who meet in London, England, but quickly go to Venice, Italy when she mistakes him for the husband of her good friend. The plot may not be the film’s strength, but we’re not here for that, as we want to see Fred and Ginger dance! And dance they do, to a score of some of (in my opinion) Irving Berlin’s best music, including “Cheek To Cheek” and the title tune. Add in a memorable supporting cast, including Edward Everett Horton and Eric Blore, and we’ve got a winner that’s always fun to see!
  1. Funny Face (1957) (Paramount Pictures, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Funny Face (1957)
    • In this musical, Fred Astaire portrays photographer Dick Avery, who convinces Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn), an assistant in a Greenwich Village shop, to go to Paris, France as a model for Quality Magazine. It’s a lot of fun, with the beautiful music of George and Ira Gerswhin (and a few newer tunes), plus the dancing of Fred and Audrey in their only film together. With all of that, it’s a film that can’t miss, and is highly recommended!
  1. Monte Carlo (1930) (Criterion Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Monte Carlo (1930)
    • In Monte Carlo (1930), Jeanette MacDonald plays a broke countess who goes to Monte Carlo to avoid a marriage to a wealthy duke that she doesn’t love. In the process, she falls for her hairdresser (who is actually a count in disguise). As usual, Jeanette is in fine voice, especially for her signature tune “Beyond The Blue Horizon” (which was introduced here).  There are a few other very fun tunes and various bits of comedy to help fill out this wonderful pre-Code, making it well worth seeing!
  1. Can’t Help Singing (1944) (Universal Studios, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Can’t Help Singing (1944)
    • In her only Technicolor film, Deanna Durbin stars as a senator’s daughter who goes west to marry the soldier she thinks she loves, but finds real love on the way with a card sharp. It’s a fun film, with Deanna singing a number of memorable tunes, including the title song and “Californ-I-Ay.” It might be a little too similar to the classic screwball comedy It Happened One Night (1934), but it’s still entertaining, and worth being recommended!
  1. Kiss Me Kate (1953) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Kiss Me Kate (1953)
    • In this classic musical, Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel star as a divorced couple who co-star (and fight both on- and off-stage) in a musical version of Shakespeare’s Taming Of The Shrew.  It’s an overall fun film, with the benefits of beautiful and/or entertaining music by Cole Porter, plus some fantastic dancing by the likes of Ann Miller, Bob Fosse, Tommy Rall, Bobby Van and others!  It’s a well-regarded film musical for a reason, and I can’t recommend it enough!
  1. West Side Story (2021) (20th Century Studios/Disney, 4K UHD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) 4K UHD Roundup
    • With regard to this film, the needle may be stuck in a crack, but I can’t help repeating myself. I did not care for the original 1961 film and had no intention of seeing this one. But I decided to give it a shot anyway when it showed up on Disney+, and I was floored by just how much fun this film was! I thought the cast did really well, the songs were fun and memorable (and made me want to get up and dance to them), and the cinematography was beautiful! Plain and simple, this one was a pleasant surprise (and I can’t help but feel like it should have done better, not only financially, but at the Oscars as well), and highly recommended!
  1. Charade (1963) (Universal Studios, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Charade (1963)
    • In this film, Audrey Hepburn stars as Regina Lampert, who has returned home from a vacation in the Swiss Alps, only to find her husband dead and several men trying to shake her down for some money he had stashed somewhere. I’ve said before that I’m no fan of director Alfred Hitchcock (or the types of films he was known for), but this film, Stanley Donen’s homage to Hitchcock, is a thrill from start to finish! I love seeing Audrey and Cary Grant working together, as she makes us cheer for her, while he manages to stay just mysterious enough that we don’t know whether he is a good guy or a bad one. I know the ending, and yet I still feel the suspense every time I see this film. So this is an easy recommendation because of the leads and the story!
  1. The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) Blu-ray Roundup #1
    • The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm tells the tale of the Grimm brothers Jacob (Karl Boehm) and Wilhelm (Laurence Harvey), as Wilhelm seeks out various fairy tales while his workaholic brother insists on doing their job of writing a duke’s family history.  This was very much a new film to me, and it was fantastic from start to finish!  The three fairy tale sections were the best part of the movie (especially with their more musical moments), but the film really shines with all of its scenery, filmed in its original Cinerama glory.  The recent Blu-ray release of this long-forgotten (and long thought to be too difficult/expensive to restore) movie made me a fan, and I heartily recommend it to others!
  1. Murder By Death (1976) (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Murder By Death (1976)
    • In Murder By Death (1976), a group of famous detectives and their associates are invited to dinner and a murder. After the murder is committed, the race is on to prove who is the best detective! I’ve seen this spoof numerous times over the years, and it’s one that continues to make me laugh from start to finish, with memorable lines and ridiculous situations. It’s not the most politically correct film (as I mentioned in the original review), but it’s enough fun to recommend it with great enthusiasm!
  1. The Ten Commandments (1956) (Paramount Pictures, 4K UHD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: The Ten Commandments (1956)
    • It’s The Ten Commandments (1956).  It’s director Cecil B. DeMille at his very best, bringing all the spectacle and drama of the classic biblical tale to life on the big screen.  With Charlton Heston in the lead role as Moses and a host of many famous names in support, this film is certainly one of the greats of classic cinema.  It may run a bit long for some, but it more than makes up for it in entertainment value in my mind.  I would easily classify it as one of the better movies that I’ve seen this year!

Honorable mentions: You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man (1939) (Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Blu-ray), The Three Musketeers (1948) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray), The Clock (1945) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray), Angels With Dirty Faces (1938) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray)

So thank you all for sticking with me in 2022, and I wish you a Happy New Year as we head into 2023! And please let me know what movies you’ve enjoyed this year as well (whether those you’ve seen or whatever movies I’ve reviewed, whatever works for you)!

Previous Years

2021

2020

2019

2018

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2022) on… Murder By Death (1976)

-Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers) – “Never consider murder to be business, Mr. Diamond”

And yet, for the Fall 2022 blogathon from the Classic Movie Blog Association (CMBA), that is the business, as the theme is “Movies Are Murder!” On that note, I decided to go with a murder comedy I’ve enjoyed for a long time (but haven’t gotten around to writing about yet), 1976’s Murder By Death, starring Eileen Brennan, Truman Capote, James Coco, Peter Falk, Alec Guinness, Elsa Lanchester, David Niven, Peter Sellers, Maggie Smith, Nancy Walker and Estelle Winwood!

Five famous detectives and their associates have received an invitation to “dinner and a murder” at the mansion of Lionel Twain (Truman Capote). This group includes Dick Charleston (David Niven) and his wife, Dora (Maggie Smith); Inspector Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers) and his adopted son Willie (Richard Narita); Milo Perrier (James Coco) and his chauffeur, Marcel Cassette (James Cromwell); Sam Diamond (Peter Falk) and his secretary, Tess Skeffington (Eileen Brennan); and Jessica Marbles (Elsa Lanchester) with her nurse, Miss Withers (Estelle Winwood). In the leadup to the dinner, there are various attempts on their lives, which all fail. During the dinner, their host (who had previously kept to himself) appears, and explains why he brought them all there. Every one of those detectives had a reputation for solving every one of their cases, and Mr. Twain wanted to bet them all that he could solve a murder before them. He predicted that one person sitting at that table would be murdered at midnight, and another would be the murderer. While he disappears, everyone else vows to stay together, although at various times, they leave the room to investigate some of the goings-on in the house. At midnight, Mr. Twain himself appears, dead (and murdered exactly as he had predicted). So, the detectives and their associates all set out to figure out who indeed murdered Twain. But will they succeed, or will Mr. Twain get the upper hand (even though he’s dead)?

Ah, the murder mystery. The genre has long been a favorite with readers and moviegoers alike. Of course, with good murder mysteries come various detectives, who become famous for their wit and their ingenuity in solving these crimes. Some authors were able to create memorable detectives that audiences loved and followed through entire series, both on the big screen and in the written word. Murder By Death was writer Neil Simon’s spoof of the detective genre. In particular, he parodied detectives from Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple), Dashiell Hammett (Nick and Nora Charles, Sam Spade) and Earl Derr Biggers (Charlie Chan). A number of big stars were offered roles (including original Thin Man actress Myrna Loy), but they turned them down. Those that did decide to take part in the film enjoyed themselves. Alec Guinness in particular thoroughly enjoyed himself, as he made the trip to Hollywood to make the film (not something he was prone to doing). In fact, he had to reassure author Neil Simon that he was having fun with it (since the author liked him so much that he offered to rewrite anything to suit him). Admittedly, some of the cast didn’t exactly have a lot of faith in the film, as Peter Sellers sold his share of the percentage back to the producers of the film, and the company that David Niven’s son was working for (and which had invested in the film) believed they would be writing it off as a tax loss. And yet, the movie ended up being the eighth biggest hit of 1976.

I first saw this film when it was given to me on DVD along with two other Peter Falk films (this film’s 1978 “sequel”, The Cheap Detective as well as the 1979 film The In-Laws). Even though I had no experience with any of the detectives that the film was spoofing (outside of Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon), I took to the film right away! The movie has a lot of twists and turns as we see the murder occur and then get solved (if you can call it that) by the film’s end. Admittedly, the film’s ending does leave you with a number of rather big plot-holes, but, at the same time, it’s so fun that I can easily forgive the movie as I get swept up in the proceedings! In general, I think all of the cast do quite well, from Peter Falk’s excellent imitation of Humphrey Bogart, to David Niven and Maggie Smith, who come off quite similarly to William Powell and Myrna Loy’s Nick and Nora Charles from the Thin Man films. Personally, I think that Alec Guinness’ role as the blind butler Jamessir Bensonmum is one of his best, as he is quite funny (especially with that name!). I have to throw in a SPOILER ALERT to say this, but he is at his absolute best when we see him at the end of the film, revealed as the culprits by the various detectives, and he changes his manner and character so well every time that one of the detectives comes in and accuses him of being somebody different. END SPOILER ALERT

Besides Alec Guinness, I also really like Peter Sellers here. Normally, I don’t care for him at all, but his performance as Sydney Wang is a real delight (even if it isn’t exactly politically correct, since he’s wearing yellowface to appear Asian). Quite frankly, he’s one of the most quotable characters in the film for me, with this line being a personal favorite:

-Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers) – “Conversation like television set on honeymoon. Unnecessary!”

But aside from some of his sayings (or “stories” as he calls them), I most enjoy his interactions with Truman Capote’s Lionel Twain, who is almost a grammar Nazi with regards to Wang’s ability to speak English, as exemplified by this exchange:

-Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers) – “What meaning of this, Mr. Twain?”

-Lionel Twain (Truman Capote) – “I will tell you, Mr. Wang, if you can tell me why a man who possesses one of the most brilliant minds of this century can’t say his prepositions or articles. ‘The,’ Mr. Wang, ‘What is the meaning of this?”

-Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers) – “That’s what I said. What meaning of this?”

Of course, I just love how Wang refers to a moose head mounted on the wall (which Twain is using to watch them) as a “cow on wall.” Quite frankly, my only really serious complaint about this movie is that these two don’t interact enough.

Apart from that, I do know that this movie isn’t for everyone. Aside from Peter Sellers being made up to look Asian, the movie has a number of other things going on that keep it from being politically correct. In general, there are a handful of racist comments (usually directed towards Peter Seller’s Wang or his Japanese son, played by Richard Narita). There are definitely some issues with sexism going on, and a number of homophobic comments as well. Plain and simple, it’s not a perfect film. But, it’s one I have enjoyed seeing on an almost yearly basis (especially around the Halloween season) ever since I first saw it, and it’s one that I highly recommend (at least, for those who can get past its issues). And with that, I leave with a quote that admittedly needs another spoiler warning (since it comes from the end of the film, and hints enough at the film’s ending), but it’s one that feels apropos for the whole “Movies Are Murder!” blogathon (not to mention, it’s certainly how things sometimes feel when things don’t go our way). So thank you all for reading (and don’t let the “murder” referred to in this quote be the situation for you this weekend, either 😉 )!

SPOILER ALERT

-Willie Wang (Richard Narita) – “I don’t understand, Pop. Was there a murder or wasn’t there?”

-Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers) – “Yes. Killed good weekend.”

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2018) with… Murder By Death (1976)

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory. The transfer seems to be using an HD scan. For the most part, it looks pretty good. There is some damage in the form of specks and dirt, but it’s really only visible on bigger and better TVs. Overall, it’s the way that I would recommend seeing the movie.

Film Length: 1 hour, 35 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #9 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2022

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Robin And The 7 Hoods (1964) – Peter Falk

Naughty Marietta (1935) – Elsa Lanchester

Magnificent Doll (1946) – David Niven

The Notorious Landlady (1962) – Estelle Winwood

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Screen Team Edition & WOIANRA 2019 on The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection

“Heeeeey Abbott!”

We’re back again for another round of Screen Team Edition, and, you guessed it, this time we’re focusing on that classic comedy team of Abbott and Costello! Now, the boys mainly made their movies at Universal Studios, an output that has recently been represented on Blu-ray by Shout Factory as a 28-film collection with some extras, so I will focus on them and that group of movies, with a few comments around their non-Universal output as well.

The List (numbered by order of release date):

Their Universal Output (included in The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection):

1. One Night In The Tropics (1940) My Rating: 6

2. Buck Privates (1941) My Rating: 9

3. In The Navy (1941) My Rating: 10

4. Hold That Ghost (1941) My Rating: 8

5. Keep ‘Em Flying (1941) My Rating: 7

6. Ride ‘Em Cowboy (1942) My Rating: 8

8. Pardon My Sarong (1942) My Rating: 9

9. Who Done It? (1942) My Rating: 10

10. It Ain’t Hay (1943) My Rating: 8

11. Hit The Ice (1943) My Rating: 8

12. In Society (1944) My Rating: 8

14. Here Come The Co-Eds (1945) My Rating: 9

15. The Naughty Nineties (1945) My Rating: 10

17. Little Giant (1946) My Rating: 6

18. The Time Of Their Lives (1946) My Rating: 10

19. Buck Privates Come Home (1947) My Rating: 7

20. The Wistful Widow Of Wagon Gap (1947) My Rating: 10

22. Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) My Rating: 10

23. Mexican Hayride (1948) My Rating: 10

25. Abbott And Costello Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff (1949) My Rating: 6

26. Abbott And Costello In The Foreign Legion (1950) My Rating: 9

27. Abbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man (1951) My Rating: 9

28. Comin’ Round The Mountain (1951) My Rating: 8

30. Lost In Alaska (1952) My Rating: 5

32. Abbott And Costello Go To Mars (1953) My Rating: 4

33. Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1953) My Rating: 5

34. Abbott And Costello Meet The Keystone Kops (1955) My Rating: 6

35. Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy (1955) My Rating: 8

Their Non-Universal Output (not included in the set):

7. Rio Rita (1942) My Rating: 8

13. Lost In A Harem (1944) My Rating: 10

16. Abbott And Costello In Hollywood (1945) My Rating: 5

21. The Noose Hangs High (1948) My Rating: 9

24. Africa Screams (1949) My Rating: 9

29. Jack And The Beanstalk (1952)

31. Abbott And Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952) My Rating: 8

36. Dance With Me, Henry (1956)

Background info (prior to their team-up):

William Alexander “Bud” Abbott was born on October 2, 1897. His parents, Rae Abbott (a bareback rider) and Harry Abbott (a publicist and booking agent) both worked for the Barnum and Bailey Circus. As a kid, he worked at New York’s Coney Island alongside his father. He eventually got into burlesque, where he worked both onstage and off. Along with his wife, he produced a number of variety shows, and started working as a straight man when he couldn’t afford to pay anybody else. His reputation as a straight man continued to improve enough that he started working with some bigger comedians.

On March 6, 1906, Helen and Sebastian Cristillo were blessed with a son, Louis Francis Cristillo, in the city of Paterson, New Jersey. He became a good athlete, particularly in basketball and boxing. However, Lou ended up planning on becoming an actor, so he hitchhiked out to Hollywood in 1927. Work didn’t come easily, though, as he mainly worked as a laborer, extra, or stunt man. None of that paid very well, so he worked his way back towards Paterson. He would start finding work in burlesque to gain some stage experience.

As a team:

While various sources seem to indicate different ways they met, the general idea seems to be that Bud and Lou did meet a few times, but they didn’t really work together until one fateful evening in 1935. They were both working at the same theatre, the Eltinge in New York City, when Lou’s usual partner fell ill, and Bud, who was working there, filled in. The audiences responded well to them, but they did not immediately decide to team up. However, they did meet up again, and more officially became a team in 1936. They toured through burlesque shows and vaudeville theaters as they honed their routines. They gained a lot more exposure and popularity in 1938 when they performed on the “Kate Smith Hour” radio show. After that, they moved out of burlesque and onto the Broadway stage for The Streets Of Paris. Universal Studios soon signed them for one film, which would turn out to be One Night In The Tropics. While the movie itself was not well received, Bud and Lou were, and Universal quickly signed them to star in two more films. Buck Privates would establish them even more, resulting in them doing another service film (In The Navy) before their second film (Hold That Ghost) could be released. Their films were very successful, essentially saving Universal Studios from bankruptcy, and propelling them into the top 10 movie stars for quite some time, and they were number one at the box office for 1942.

Everything was going great… and then, they suffered a one-two punch. First, Lou suffered a bout of rheumatic fever, which kept him laid up for most of a year. Then, right when he was getting ready to come back, Lou’s son drowned. While that hit him hard personally, he still came back to work, and they kept making movies. Of course, audiences were starting to tire of their films, with the plots staying fairly similar. As a result of that, and possibly a fight between the two of them, they worked separately for Little Giant and The Time Of Their Lives before going back to working together. However, it was with Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (a film Lou admittedly didn’t want to do) that they were back on top. Of course, the problem with that was that they were being given a new formula to work with, which Universal pushed over the next few years. Lou had another bout with rheumatic fever after Abbott And Costello Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff that resulted in them being off again for another year.

The fifties brought about a number of changes for Bud and Lou, most of them not good. Up to that time, their films had all been black-and-white, as Universal had been reluctant to pony up for color for any of their films. However, as part of their contracts, they were allowed to do some outside films. Using that, they made Jack And The Beanstalk and Abbott And Costello Meet Captain Kidd in color through their own production companies. Bud and Lou also started appearing on television, first as hosts of the Colgate Comedy Hour, and then they got their own TV sitcom. The problem was, this also worked against them, as, between the TV shows, their new movies, and some of their older films that Universal was reissuing to theatres, audiences were getting overexposed to them, and growing tired of them. The fact that they were both growing older didn’t help, especially since they were being given less-than-stellar scripts, as well as facing competition from the new and much younger comedy team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

But one of their biggest problems was the IRS. Whether because of a crooked accountant or because of gambling their money away (or some combination thereof), Bud and Lou found themselves owing a huge amount of money to the IRS. It essentially forced them to sell off a lot of their assets, including their homes. That debt really hurt them when it came time to renew their contract with Universal. They demanded more money, in the hopes of being able to pay it off, but with their films failing to be as successful as they had been in the past, Universal decided it wasn’t worth it and dropped them.

The boys tried one more time with Dance With Me Henry, an independent film that, in some respects, allowed their characters to start showing their age. Still, it didn’t go over well with audiences. They were reunited for a 1956 episode of the TV show This Is Your Life that focused on Lou. They tried, however briefly, to go to Las Vegas to do their act, but the magic wasn’t there anymore, and they disbanded the team.

The aftermath:

After they broke up in 1957, Lou tried to keep going on his own, doing a few TV appearances and the movie The 30 Foot Bride Of Candy Rock before he passed away on March 3, 1959 from a heart attack. Bud, due to the IRS going after him, came out of retirement and attempted to partner with Candy Candido, although he quickly called it quits, feeling it wasn’t the same without Lou. He did provide his own voice for the Hanna-Barbera cartoon The Abbott And Costello Cartoon Show. After a series of strokes, Bud died of cancer on April 24, 1974.

The routines:

“Two Tens For A Five,” “Smoking,” “Who’s On First?,” “Jonah And The Whale,” “365 Days – Firing,” “Mustard,” “Dice Game,” “Loan Me $50,” “Drill,” “Play The Radio,” “You’re 40, She’s 10,” “The Lemon Bit,” “7×13=28,” “Buzzing The Bee,” “Moving Candle,” “Changing Room,” “Comic Ballet,” “Figure Of Speech,” “Go Ahead And Order Something,” “Poker Game,” “Herd Of Cows,” “Crazy House,” “Go Ahead And Back Up,” “Tree Of Truth,” “Stinker,” “Handcuffs,” “Limburger Cheese,” “Alexander 2222,” “Watts Volts,” “Mudder/Fodder,” “Betting Parlor,” “Teller What?,” “Pack/Unpack,” “Piano Scene,” “Handkerchief Gag,” “Go Ahead And Sing,” “Bagel Street,” “Life Guards,” “Oyster,” “Wrestling Match,” “Higher/Lower,” “Feathers In The Cake,” “Necktie Pitch,” “Frog In The Soup,” “Silver Ore,” “Money Exchange,” “Forefathers,” “Whale Spout,” “Venusian Balloons,” “Squirrel In The Bread,” “Take Your Pick,” and more!

The set (The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection):

This set contains all 28 of the Universal-owned Abbott and Costello films on Blu-ray, from One Night In The Tropics up through Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy. The transfers range from being decent (on most of them) to being really good (mainly for some of those released individually by Universal Studios). While I wish they could all have been restored, I also realize that would have been very expensive for them to do (and would have been reflected in a much higher list price than most would be happy with). So, these are good enough for me. Extras on this set include The World Of Abbott And Costello (1965), Abbott And Costello Meet Jerry Seinfeld, Abbott And Costello Meet The Monsters, Abbott And Costello Meet Castle Films, audio commentaries on a few movies, a few featurettes, some bloopers/outtakes from several movies, and a 44-page booklet on Bud and Lou and their films from Universal.

My opinion:

Bud and Lou are among the few classic film stars I grew up with (as opposed to learning to like in my late teens or older), so it is no surprise that I am fond of them. I can say that I’ve seen most of the movies a time or two before, along with their classic sitcom. With this recent run through of their filmography, I found my opinions of some films improving, while others more or less stayed the same. I do think, as a whole, that most of their earlier films are better than some of their later fare, but there are certainly enough laughs to be found throughout their entire filmography! I have no trouble whatsoever recommending the recent Blu-ray set, in between the movies and the extras!

TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2019 on… Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy (1955)

We’re sticking around for the second film of today’s triple-feature as we finish out the Universal run of the Abbott and Costello films, with their 1955 comedy Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Sink Pink (1965)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 21 seconds)

The Pink Panther faces off against a hunter trying to recreate Noah’s ark so he can hunt all the animals. Fun little idea, although the cartoon mainly focuses on the hunter trying (and failing) to outwit the panther. This one actually changes things up a little, as the hunter actually talks for most of the cartoon (and the panther himself has one quick line to end the cartoon)! It’s fun, and worth seeing every now and then even if it does break with the otherwise mostly silent cartoons in this series.

And Now For The Main Feature…

Note: even though the credits list their parts as Pete Patterson (Bud Abbott) and Freddie Franklin (Lou Costello), they go by their own names within the movie, so I will stick with their own names for the synopsis.

Dr. Gustav Zoomer (Kurt Katch) has announced to a journalist that he has found the mummy of Klaris, with a clue to a big treasure. He is overheard by many parties. Among them are Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, who hope he will hire them to help take the mummy to America. However, before they can talk to him, Dr. Zoomer is murdered by members of Klaris’ cult followers. When Bud and Lou discover the body of Dr. Zoomer, they take pictures that they send to the police. The only problem is, Lou took a picture of Bud with the body, and now the police suspect him of being the murderer! While on the run from the police, they return to Dr. Zoomer’s home, where they hope to find some clues to his murderer. While they are searching, two other groups are also there, looking for a medallion that would reveal the lost tomb of the Princess Ara. Lou stumbles across it, and, when one group gives chase, they make a run for it. Unsure of the medallion’s value, they ask around, only to scare people away. In a pawnshop, they run into Madame Rontru (Marie Windsor). Unknown to them, she is a treasure hunter and the leader of one of the groups after the medallion. She offers them money for the medallion, but she wants to meet them at a cafe later that evening to pay them. While they are waiting for her, Lou accidentally eats the medallion. Madame Rontru takes him to a doctor to confirm that he ate the medallion, and it is there that they meet Semu (Richard Deacon). He is the leader of Klaris’ followers, but, to lead them into a trap and recover the medallion, he pretends to be a professor, with an ability to read heiroglyphics. Once they arrive at their destination, Madame Rontru and Semu go their separate ways, so they can each plan their betrayal of the other, while Bud and Lou are forced to start digging. Lou finds the secret passage, and encounters Klaris, who scares Lou into spitting out the medallion. Bud and Lou hope to make a deal with Semu, although Klaris keeps causing them trouble.

After dealing with Dracula, the Frankenstein monster, the Wolfman, the Invisible Man, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, of course Abbott and Costello had to meet up with the Mummy! Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy was directed by Charles Lamont, the ninth time that he would direct Bud and Lou in the movies. Of course, by this time, Bud and Lou were no longer the darlings of the studio, with their recent films not received as well by audiences. In spite of the fact that this movie was finished a day early and came in within the budget, Universal spent very little money advertising the movie. After the movie was finished, it was also time for Bud and Lou to renew their contract with Universal, but in between their films not being as successful and their demands for more money, Universal decided instead to drop them.

For me, this movie was truly a return to form for Bud and Lou (although sadly a short-lived one with Universal ending their contract). They made use of some of their comedy routines, including “Changing Room” and “Take Your Pick.” With Lou’s character eating a medallion at one point, we rather hilariously see the villains shaking him up as they try to find it in his stomach with an x-ray machine (although it is fairly obvious at one point that it is some stunt doubles throwing a dummy around instead of Lou). While Lou and his antics when scared by the Mummy are nothing new, he’s still very effective and funny when scared. This is a fun movie, very effective around Halloween, but equally good any other time of the year. I have no trouble whatsoever with recommending this movie!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Universal Studios either individually or in the Mummy Legacy Collection, or as part of Shout Factory’s 28-film set The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 19 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Abbott And Costello Meet The Keystone Kops (1955)Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello

Abbott And Costello Meet The Keystone Kops (1955)The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures CollectionThe World Of Abbott And Costello (1965)

TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2019 on… Abbott And Costello Meet The Keystone Kops (1955)

As we get into the home stretch of the Abbott and Costello films (at least, those I have to work with), we have a triple-feature for today!  Starting us off is their 1955 film Abbott And Costello Meet The Keystone Kops!

Harry Pierce (Bud Abbott) convinces his buddy Willie Piper (Lou Costello) to use his aunt’s money to buy a movie studio, believing it to be a good investment. What they don’t know (at first) is that they have been conned by Joseph Gorman (Fred Clark) into buying one of Thomas Edison’s closed down studios. By the time Harry and Willie figure it out, Gorman and his friend Leota Van Cleet (Lynn Bari) are on a train heading towards Hollywood, where he plans to be a big director, under the pseudonym Sergei Toumanoff. On his way, Gorman (or maybe I should say “Toumanoff”) is stopped and hired by movie producer Rudolph Snavely (Frank Wilcox). Harry and Willie make their way out there, on foot and by train. At one point, they find themselves on the back of a covered wagon being chased by Native Americans, before it is revealed that the whole chase was being filmed (and by none other than Toumanoff)! Snavely likes the stunts that Harry and Willie do with the wagon, and wants them hired as stuntmen. Toumanoff and Leota recognize Harry and Willie, and make plans for some stunts that may kill them. To make sure, Toumanoff hires a thug named Hinds (Maxie Rosenbloom) to help off them. Between the two of them, they make plans to have Willie double for Leota in a plane, with another pilot being given live ammunition to shoot at them (instead of the blanks he was supposed to be using). However, things don’t go as planned, and both Harry and Willie survive. When viewing the footage they had shot, Snavely decides to hire Harry and Willie as a new comedy team, with Toumanoff as their director! At first, Toumanoff protests, but Snavely reveals that he figured out Toumanoff is Joseph Gorman. Snavely allows him to keep the job and name, providing he would reimburse his victims out of his pay (and keep Harry and Willie safe). Faced with no alternative, he goes along with it, although Harry and Willie soon find out that Toumanoff is Gorman and try to find some evidence. Gorman and Leota are forced to go on the run when Hinds demands his pay, which they can only provide by stealing the money from Snavely’s safe. Harry and Willie walk in on them taking the money, leading to a chase that quickly involves the Keystone Kops!

I admit that, going into it, I was not looking forward to seeing this movie again. I saw it once before, and at that time, I was left with the feeling that it was one of the worst Abbott and Costello films. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was better than I thought (although still far from perfect). The movie did have many fun moments. Bud and Lou do their “Oyster” routine again (except this time it’s a squirrel that keeps switching between loaves of bread), with the added fun that Bud actually sees the squirrel at the end of the routine. One of the film’s best moments is when Bud and Lou’s characters try to find evidence against Fred Clark’s Joseph Gorman. Bud goes into the house dressed as a burglar, while Lou is outside dressed as a policeman (with a mustache!). They run into trouble because there is a real thief there (dressed like Bud) and a real policeman comes (and he looks similar to Lou), and the comings and goings really drive Fred Clark’s character crazy! Then, there is the final (hilarious) chase scene with the Keystone Kops!

As I hinted at, this movie does still have its problems. For one thing, the stunt doubles for Bud and Lou are way too obvious (especially watching how Bud himself moves for his age, then seeing the double running like a much younger man). Then, there is the frequent use of rear screen projection. To be fair, there isn’t much to be done about it, but it still looks way too fake. But, ultimately, I would say the Keystone Kops are the biggest disappointment. For one thing, in spite of their prominence in the title, they really don’t appear until the very end, feeling more like a quick cameo appearance. Had the film gone with its working title of Abbott And Costello In The Stunt Men, it might not have been quite so bad (still not a great title, but at least better). Then, of course, there is the fact that the Keystone Kops are not that recognizable anymore. The Universal executives were concerned about that at the time, although at least then, the comedies featuring them were starting to show up on TV, and they were still relevant. Now, it seems like only the hardcore film fans might have any idea who they are (and beyond this film, I can’t really say as I do, yet). Still, as I said, I did enjoy this movie more than I thought I would the second time around, and I would recommend giving it a try!

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, nineteen minutes in length.

My Rating: 6/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1953)Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello – Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy (1955)

Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1953)The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures CollectionAbbott And Costello Meet The Mummy (1955)

Coming Up Shorts! with… Daredevil Droopy (1951)

(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: 6 minutes, 27 seconds)

Droopy and Spike compete to get a job in a circus. While it’s Droopy and Spike competing again, it’s still good fun here! Admittedly, there is one quick, not-very-PC joke here, but it’s a blink-and-you’ll miss it moment. Otherwise, the gags work well, the competition between Droopy and Spike continues to work, even for the one moment that Spike manages to get Droopy just a little. Admittedly, the final gag is a repeat from one of the earlier shorts, but it gets a laugh from me (as do most of the others here)!

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!

TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2019 on… Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1953)

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

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Abbott And Costello Go To Mars (1953)Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello – Abbott And Costello Meet The Keystone Kops (1955)

Abbott And Costello Go To Mars (1953)The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures CollectionAbbott And Costello Meet The Keystone Kops (1955)

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!

TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2019 on… Abbott And Costello Go To Mars (1953)

For the first half of today’s Abbott and Costello double-feature, we have their 1953 comedy Abbott And Costello Go To Mars.

After accidentally breaking a window, orphanage groundskeeper Orville (Lou Costello) hides in a truck.   He soon finds himself taken to a secret base where a rocketship is being developed.  The truck driver, Lester (Bud Abbott), catches him, and, believing him to be a spy, takes him to Dr. Wilson (Robert Paige), the head of the base.  Dr. Wilson doesn’t believe him to be a threat, but he asks Orville to stay, just the same, as a result of the project’s secrecy.  So Lester gets him to help load up the rocket, but, in the process, they accidentally launch, with just the two of them on board.  Trying to figure out how to steer the rocket, they end up going in and around numerous landmarks.   When they hear on the radio that the government has called out the army to shoot the ship down, Lester and Orville decide to head for space.  Orville accidentally hits another button, which results in them landing.  Lester and Orville assume they have landed on Mars, but the reality is that they have landed in New Orleans during Mardi Gras!  Donning their spacesuits, they go into town and encounter the various “Martians” (again, people wearing various costumes).  Meanwhile, a pair of escaped convicts, the highly educated Mugsy (Horace McMahon) and his less educated friend Harry (Jack Kruschen) come upon the rocketship as Lester and Orville are leaving.  Mugsy and Harry put on some spacesuits themselves and go into town, where they proceed to rob both the bank and a clothing store before returning to the rocket.  Lester and Orville hear about the robbery at the same time as some of the townspeople and have to run, since they match the description of the thieves.  They get back to the ship, where Mugsy and Harry force them to take off.  This time, they actually head for space, although they end up heading for the planet Venus.  Before they land there, Lester and Orville regain control of the ship, but, upon landing, they discover that they are out of fuel.  Orville is sent off the ship to look around, and he discovers the planet is inhabited entirely by women!  They are led by Queen Allura (Mari Blanchard), who had previously banished all men from the planet.  However, a celestial light comes over Orville, and so the queen’s subjects want Orville declared king.  Meanwhile, Lester, Mugsy and Harry are captured, but Lester is freed by king Orville while the other two are sent to the dungeon. Queen Allura keeps Orville on a tight leash, threatening to banish him if he even thinks about cheating on her!  Will Lester and Orville get out of this ordeal and get back to Earth?

For me, Abbott And Costello Go To Mars continues the downward trajectory of the later Universal Abbott and Costello films. There are a number of things that bother me about it, but the casting of the Miss Universe 1953 contestants as the inhabitants of Venus bugs me the most. I mean, according to the movie, the inhabitants of Venus are supposed to have banished men nearly 400 years before and become a more advanced civilization, both in technology and science (having discovered the secrets of eternal life and youth, etc.), and yet, based on the script and performances, I just don’t feel like that’s actually the case. For me, they act more like I would expect the stereotypical beauty contestants to behave. Most don’t seem as intelligent as I would think, and they look like they could be easily conquered if the planet were invaded. It would be one thing if they were just acting that way around the men to fool them, but when they behave that way around each other, that just doesn’t work. Seriously, if they were more like Amazons than beauty queens, they would have looked tougher to conquer (that, and the script would need to be changed to make them more intelligent).

Of course, the casting of the Miss Universe contestants is hardly this film’s only problem. It doesn’t help that, in spite of the film’s title, Bud and Lou’s characters never actually go to Mars; instead they just visit New Orleans and Venus. I would also say that it feels at times like some scenes and characters are otherwise unnecessary, such as the opening with Lou’s character at the orphanage, Martha Hyer’s character of Janie Howe, etc. Now, maybe I am being a little harsh on this movie. I personally just don’t care for most science fiction films (particularly from this era of film), and adding Abbott and Costello when they are not in their prime doesn’t help. I know I previously gave a poor review for the similar Road comedy, The Road To Hong Kong, but, when all is said and done, I still go back to that film far more than I generally want to with this film. Now, it does have its merits, and I enjoy seeing it here and there, but it still feels like one of the worst Abbott and Costello films, and I therefore cannot bring myself to recommend it.

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: 4/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Abbott And Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952)Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello – Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1953)

Lost In Alaska (1952)The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures CollectionAbbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1953)

Coming Up Shorts! with… Wags To Riches (1949)

(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, 11 seconds)

Droopy inherits a mansion, and Spike attempts to do him in so that he gets everything. Very fun cartoon, with more hilarious gags as all Spike’s attempts on Droopy’s life keep backfiring on him. A cartoon I have seen many times, and one that just doesn’t grow old! Even more fun, now that it’s been given a great restoration!

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!

TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2019 on… Lost In Alaska (1952)

Now that we’re back again for another Abbott and Costello double-feature, we’ll start things off with their 1952 comedy Lost In Alaska.

In San Francisco, volunteer firefighters Tom Watson (Bud Abbott) and his buddy George Bell (Lou Costello) come across a man trying to drown himself, and rescue him. They learn he is “Nugget Joe” McDermott (Tom Ewell), and they do what they can to keep him from killing himself, as he is depressed at the idea that his girlfriend doesn’t love him. Then, he receives a message from her, asking him to come back to her in Skagway, Alaska, so, of course, he decides to get on the next ship back. Tom and George soon learn that they are accused of killing him, and get on the boat to ask him to return and clear their names, but while he refuses and they argue, the boat takes off. Once in Skagway, they learn that Joe’s girlfriend, Rosette (Mitzi Green), didn’t want him back, but instead her boss, Jake Stillman (Bruce Cabot), sent the message. Since Joe has found a lot of gold, Jake wants Rosette to marry him. His plan is to kill Joe after the wedding, so that Rosette would be his heir and split the gold with him, but Rosette warns Joe. Joe decides to hide his gold, with Rosette’s help, and promises to meet Tom and George at the Eskimo village of Muckaluck. However, Jake follows, and catches up to everyone at Muckaluck, which results in a standoff.

For me, this is when the Universal Abbott and Costello films really start to go down the drain. The first time I saw this movie, I wound up comparing it to the Bing Crosby/Bob Hope film Road To Utopia, as the movies are quite similar. The problem is, that film was made when Bing and Bob were still in their prime and being given good scripts, whereas Lost In Alaska really doesn’t have a good script, and Bud and Lou have seen better days as a team. It’s a musical again, but the music is quite forgettable. To me, the music seems more like it’s there because maybe actress Mitzi Green was required to sing some songs or something, instead of helping move the story along. And the ending, I just don’t like (spoiler warning for those who don’t want to hear it). When Bud and Lou are trying to fight off the villains at the end, it really just seems like they were just going through the motions and so the fight wasn’t as fun as previous films. Add to that the fact that, when the gold sinks into the water, Bruce Cabot’s Jake Stillman and all the other people trying to kill Tom Ewell’s Nugget Joe just decide to be all pals to Nugget Joe, as if the gold fever just disappeared, just doesn’t work for me.

Now, don’t get me wrong this movie does have its moments. I do get a chuckle out of watching Bud and Lou’s characters taking two hour shifts to keep Nugget Joe from committing suicide, since the “shifts” mainly consist of Lou watching for two hours, and Bud changing the time on the clock so that he gets more sleep and Lou gets almost none. Then there is the scene where Lou is trying to talk to a lawyer at a roulette table, where he is accidentally winning a whole lot of money without knowing it since he is mostly talking to the guy, only to lose it all as the conversation ended, and he still didn’t know how much he had won! But, fun though those moments may be, I would not say that they are worth seeing this movie for. So, unless it still sounds good to you, I would suggest avoiding this one.

This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of the 28 film The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection from Shout Factory, and is one hour, sixteen minutes in length.

My Rating: 5/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Comin’ Round The Mountain (1951)Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello – Abbott And Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952)

Comin’ Round The Mountain (1951)The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures CollectionAbbott And Costello Go To Mars (1953)

Coming Up Shorts! with… Red Hot Rangers (1947)

(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, 59 seconds)

Forest rangers George and Junior try to put out a fire started by a lit cigarette. This one is slightly repetitious again, as the fire keeps getting the better of George and Junior. I had more fun with this one, though. Still not as good as other cartoons in the set, but it was more fun than Hound Hunters (and it certainly possesses a good message that always stays relevant)!

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!

TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2019 on… Comin’ Round The Mountain (1951)

For the second half of today’s Abbott and Costello double-feature, we have their 1951 movie Comin’ Round The Mountain!

Singer Dorothy McCoy (Dorothy Shay) has proven to be a hit at a New York nightclub, but her agent Al Stewart (Bud Abbott) has decided to bring in another one of his clients, magician Wilbert Smith (Lou Costello). Wilbert bombs, resulting in both him and Dorothy being fired. However, while he was trying to escape for his trick, he gave off a very distinctive yell, which Dorothy recognized as being from her own hillbilly family, the McCoys. She said that Wilbert’s grandfather had left a treasure that would only be revealed when one of his kin arrives, so she takes him and Al back to the hills. Once there, she tells them about the feud between the McCoys and the Winfield family (yep, they made use of that old hillbilly cliche). When they meet the McCoys, Granny (Ida Moore) takes a liking to Wilbert, but cousin Calem (Joe Sawyer) isn’t so sure about him, and decides to have Wilbert prove himself in the turkey shoot against the Winfield family. Wilbert gets through with the help of his cousin Matt McCoy (Shaye Cogan), while Dorothy meets and takes a liking to Clark Winfield (Kirby Grant). (uh-oh! We have a Romeo-and-Juliet-type romance here!) Wilbert’s current marital status leaves Calem and the rest of the family playing matchmaker. Wilbert likes Dorothy, but, since she is more interested in Clark, Calem decides to use the opportunity to marry off his 14-year-old “old maid” sister, Matt (who is happy with the arrangement). Wilbert doesn’t like the idea, and neither does Granny (since she is in favor of the feud with the Winfields), so she advises Wilbert to go to the witch Aunt Huddy (Margaret Hamilton) for a love potion. They get the potion alright, but more people drink it than they were supposed to, resulting in a lot of confusion!

For me, Comin’ Round The Mountain has some of my favorite scenes from the entire Abbott and Costello filmography. One of them is the scene with Margaret Hamilton, who is best known for her role as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard Of Oz, who once again plays a witch here. Bud and Lou’s characters come to her, seeking a love potion. When she demands payment beforehand, Lou is willing to pay, but Bud is skeptical, so she makes a model of Lou out of clay. Using voodoo, she sticks a pin into the model, giving Lou a pain. (Considering he was willing to pay, you can’t help but wonder, why him and not Bud?) While she’s not looking, Lou makes a model of her, and does the same thing! And then, after all the pin-sticking is over, Bud and Lou come across a “modernized” witch’s broom. And by “modernized,” I mean it has a windshield (with a working windshield wiper!) as well as a starter switch! For me, one of the most memorable moments from some of the Abbott and Costello films!

And while not quite as good, the following scene, which deals with the love potion, is still quite fun! The potion itself, according to the movie, is supposed to be drunk, and then the drinker falls in love with the first person they see (although it eventually wears off). So, of course, Lou gets Dorothy’s character to drink it, with her seeing Lou first, but then Lou’s character accidentally drinks it, sees Shaye Cogan’s Matt and falls for her. Of course, she also ends up drinking it, sees Bud’s character and falls for him. With all the arguing (and the subsequent wedding), it’s a lot of fun! Of course, they also have the leader of the Winfield family, Devil Dan (portrayed by Glenn Strange), drink it too, and he see’s Lou’s Wilbert (although he just becomes an affectionate friend instead of a lover). Still, it’s a fun moment!

As to the rest of the movie, I would for the most part say it’s a lot of fun. With the presence of Dorothy Shay as the “Manhattan Hillbilly,” the movie once again goes into musical territory, which gives me mixed feelings. On the one hand, the music itself is less than memorable, but, on the other hand, the songs seem to work well enough for the movie (and by that, I mean their style works, as the songs don’t advance the plot), which is a plus. And as far as Bud and Lou are concerned, they do make use of their “You’re 40, She’s 10” routine, which, considering the hillbilly atmosphere, seems appropriate (and, of course, it’s still funny). This movie may not be one of the absolute best Abbott and Costello films, but I enjoy watching it every now and then, as it is worth a few good laughs! So, as you can guess, I still rank it high enough to warrant a recommendation! If you get the chance, try to see it!

This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of the 28 film The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection from Shout Factory, and is one hour, seventeen minutes in length.

My Rating: 8/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Abbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man (1951)Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello – Lost In Alaska (1952)

Abbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man (1951)The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures CollectionLost In Alaska (1952)

Coming Up Shorts! with… Lonesome Lenny (1946)

(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)

A big, lonely dog (who is too strong for his own good) chases his new little friend, Screwy. More fun here with Screwy Squirrel, in what was his last cartoon from Tex Avery. Many fun gags, including the old “hallway with many doors being used in a chase sequence” bit, that is one of the funniest and most ridiculous uses of it! Many laughs to be found here, even with it’s slightly sad (and appropriate for being the last Screwy Squirrel cartoon by Tex Avery) ending.

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!

TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2019 on… Abbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man (1951)

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

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Abbott And Costello In The Foreign Legion (1950)Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello – Comin’ Round The Mountain (1951)

Abbott And Costello In The Foreign Legion (1950)The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures CollectionComin’ Round The Mountain (1951)

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!