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Nose Norton

Location: Plainville
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,153
Subj: Creature Feature 189: Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1953)
Posted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 at 10:36:32 pm EST (Viewed 71 times)

Bud, Lou and Boris gave a comedic take on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale in 1953 when Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  The Universal film starred Bud Abbott and Lou Costello with Boris Karloff as Dr. Jekyll and also featured Craig Stevens and Helen Westcott.  Charles Lamont, who worked on several A & C movies as well as the Ma and Pa Kettle series, directed.

Bud and Lou play Slim and Tubby, two American policemen working in London during a series of attacks by "the monster".  When they get fired for incompetence, they plan to capture the monster and earn their jobs back.  Meanwhile, Bruce Adams(Stevens), a reporter on the monster case, meets suffragette Vicky (Westcott).  They fall in love but Vicky's guardian, the respected Dr. Jekyll, is secretly in love with her.  He's also, obviously, the monster.  As the heroes track down the monster, Tubby gets turned into a mouse-man and a "Mr. Hyde".  Bruce and Vicky learn the truth about Dr. Jekyll, who eventually falls to his death.

As a kid, Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was right up my alley, since it had the two comedians and a real monster, unlike Abbott And Costello Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff.   It was still fun to see, but, looking at it with a critical eye, it's really not as funny or clever as Boris' previous teaming with A&C.  A&C Meet The Killer seemed to be a reaction to the success of Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein, while ...Meet Dr. Jekyll seems to be an attempt to return to the successful formula of ...Meet Frankenstein.  While there is some good physical humor, the wordplay and snappy dialogue are missing, especially from Abbott.  
Karloff's take on Dr. Jekyll is impressive.  He's evil in both forms, as he uses the monster to try to eliminate Adams.  As usual, Karloff does what he does best: he presents a genial exterior while secretly plotting for his own gains.  The movie takes liberties with the Jekyll/Hyde story but, to be honest, I wasn't expecting the deep themes of other adaptations.  

Memorable Moments:

Bud and Lou trying to break up the scuffle at the Suffragette's Rally.  After a great horror opening of Mr. Hyde attacking a man on a foggy London street, we're taken to a Women's Suffragette Rally in which the women can only get through to the men by performing a kick-line song.  There's good slapstick fun as the bumbling bobbies get bounced about by the belligerent women.

Karloff taking the formula.  He takes the solution which causes the transformation into a monster and is shown to gradually change into Mr. Hyde in the same process as used in The Wolf Man.  I believe this is the only time Kaloff is shown in the makeup as stuntman Eddie Parker (Monster On The Campus) plays the monster in the other scenes.

Slim and Tubby on the trail of Mr. Hyde.  There are many timing jokes and near misses as Tubby doesn't realise how close he is to the creature.  The best bit, though, is when Tubby runs into wax statues of Frankenstein and Dracula in a museum, calling back to Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein.  They even use some music from that classic.

Tubby gets turned into a mouse-man.  There are the usually drunk jokes as Costello unknowingly drinks one of Jekyll's formulae and turns into a giant mouse as he and Slim stop at a pub to wet their whistles.

Everyone chasing the two Hydes at the end and the police being turned into monsters.  This closing scene was the one I remembered best.  As a kid, I always thought that they ended the movie right when it was at its best.

Other comedic takes on Stevenson's tale include Stan Laurel in Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pryde (1924), Tom and Jerry in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse (1947), Daffy Duck and Porky Pig in The Prize Pest (1951), Bugs Bunny in Hyde And Hare (1955), and Scooby-Doo in "Nowhere To Hyde" (1970).

Abbott And Costello had been boxoffice gold in the '40s and early '50s, but by 1953 they had begun to wane.  However, from 1952 to 1954, they appeared on TV on The Abbott And Costello Show, which ran for 52 episodes.  Joe Besser, who would later join the Three Stooges after Shemp died, played "Stinky" on the show.  Bud Abbott also voiced his character in The Abbott And Costello Cartoon Show (1967-68), which I've never seen.

Boris Karloff branched out into TV in the 1950s, also.  He was a regular panelist on NBC's celebrity game show Who Said That? (1947-55).  He also appeared in 6 episodes of Suspense (1949-53), starred as Colonel March of Scotland Yard (1955-56), and was host of horror anthology series The Veil (1958) and Thriller (1960-62).

You can watch Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde here:

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