The Great Unwatched #1: Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The funds in my DVD buying pot may be slightly lower this year than I’m used to, but when you’re given lemons you should make lemonade. I have a pile of discs from the past few years that is easily twice as tall as me that have yet to be watched so why not tackle the backlog now while I have nothing better to do?

First up is Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, released in 1953 and included as part of the Region 2 Abbott and Costello: The Collection Box Set. I’ve had this on the shelf for about two years now and must have seen only about a quarter of the twenty or so films contained within. I’ll confess now that this is probably due to the fact that, unlike Laurel and Hardy or The Marx Brothers, I have no real affection for this comedy team. Whereas I find the former can get by on charm or coast on their comic personas I find that Abbott and Costello really need a strong script of unique gimmick to be really funny. Sadly, unlike Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein or Abbott and Costello Go To Mars, this film has neither. In some ways, the writing reminded me a little of Laurel and Hardy’s weaker 1940s efforts, where the screenwriters couldn’t quite get a handle on the established characters and in some cases couldn’t even manage basic story structure.

The monster too, usually a highlight of any spooky Abbott and Costello feature, is a little lacklustre here. Boris Karloff is around to play Doctor Jekyll with his usual greatness, but when the (admittedly impressive) transformation scenes take place, stuntman Eddie Parker takes over the role of Mr. Hyde. Parker seems to be an expert climber, scaling walls with impressive animalistic ease, but in most of respects his monster is lacking and too often reduced to standing bolt upright like a Victorian gentleman with a facial hair problem. The closing scene, which I won’t give away, also involved monsters and commits two offences. One; it isn’t funny. And two; it doesn’t even make sense!

The film isn’t a total write off, well delivered performances, good special effects and a handful of funny gags stop it from being boring and it’s always fun to watch Lou Costello in particular going through his usual shtick. Worth a watch once perhaps, but there are better offerings from this team to find time for first.

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2 Responses to “The Great Unwatched #1: Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”

  1. Yes, they’re not a great comedy team, but I do love them… I have to say you picked a dud here. Probably their worst Universal movie. (But with Go To Mars coming in close behind, surely…)

    • illegibleme Says:

      I really enjoy ‘Go To Mars’ (In which they don’t go to Mars), but then again I’m a sucker for anything with slightly rubbish planets and tribes of lady aliens.

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