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Whenever I see this I see it through Rose-tinted Spectacles: because I
first saw it as a kid nostalgia kicks in and all faults are forgiven.
There's quite a few of A&C's in that list, The Lost World (1960)
springs to my mind as a different another. It certainly helps because
in places this is laughably bad, but of course those bits were likely
thrown in just for the kids! On the other hand there are some effective
atmospheric moments, the set pieces usually work and the overall
production values were good. You know the story - good cop bad cop. The
classic 4-round-the-chimney routine still holds up, and the very last
gag in the film should leave you smiling - unless you have watched this
movie all the way through against your will.
Over here, it's fashionable and even de rigueur for film critics (and buffs) to denigrate the entire A&C canon as anything from utterly worthless to as unfunny as death (no kidding!) along with Britain's wartime box office no.1, George Formby. Without watching a single film sometimes. Pity the blinkered high brows as not being quite complete human beings, at always having to view such harmless fun in an Artistic light. Or maybe pity ordinary people who hate A&C but feel they have to force themselves to sit through this and then unload their bile.
Sure, times change (from innocent to cynical) - Jekyll/Karloff passionately says to Vicky that he'd loved her since she was a child - putting a whole new psychological slant on his persona. Has that been cut out yet? And any comedic aspect of animal experimentation has thankfully gone of course - hasn't it? A&C haven't changed, these are typical late performances from them, only with not so many memorable lines.
If you can see this simply as knockabout Jekyll and Hyde with 2 bumbling American policemen in London and nothing more you'll do OK like me.
I somehow missed this film on television as a child, but ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE is a fine vehicle for the boys and shows that they were still in excellent form in their last few years at Universal. There's a lot of physical comedy here and less verbal jousting than in their 1940's material, which is great because both Bud and Lou were amazing physical comedians. They are American police officers who are for some reason in England (learning British police techniques--I just saw a Columbo with that plot recently!), and stumble across a series of killings that has baffled the police. At the same time, we are introduced to Boris Karloff as Dr. Jekyll who has a young lady played by Helen Westcott as his ward (and, in an uncomfortable scene near the end, he professes his love for her "since she was a child"!!!!), and she in turn has an American reporter played by Craig "Peter Gunn" Stevens (always a reliable and attractive leading man)interested in her. There's a strange suffragette subplot that opens the film and is brought back a few times, including an off-the-wall musical sequence, but Ms. Westcott's character is the kind of movie-feminist who abandons the cause when the first hunky man takes an interest in her. The "transformation" scenes with Karloff are well done, and of course Lou gets "transformed" a few times himself. There are some exciting chases, and the scene near the end around the chimney on a roof is a classic that you'll have to see for yourself. Karloff underplays his role, which was probably a wise decision and keeps things from becoming campy. People either like A&C or they don't understand their appeal. Those who enjoy them will find ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE a fine, lesser-known later entry, and it would probably appeal to today's children too. Do those children or grandchildren a favor and introduce them to Bud and Lou--they'll thank you later.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is a slightly
underrated entry in their series.
Failing to stop a fight in a crowded park, London Police Officers Slim, (Bud Abbott) and Tubby, (Lou Costello) are kicked off the squad. When they find a serial killer at a playhouse where the leader of the fight, Vicky Edwards, (Helen Westcott) is giving a dance performance, Bruce Adams, (Craig Stevens) and them give chase and try to trap him, only to find they have instead caught Dr. Henry Jekyll, (Boris Karloff) a respected member of the community. Finding a secret lab, which they believe is the place where he conducts his experiments, which turn him into the murderous Mr. Hyde. Teaming together, they race to get the monster before it is able to escape.
The Good News: This wasn't that bad of a film. The greatest thing is that Jekyll/Hyde story, which was always really a modern reworking of the werewolf myth with the mad scientist's laboratory in lieu of the full moon and silver bullets, is that this version of the Jekyll/Hyde story moves far closer to it's werewolf ancestor than most other versions. It's found in the prehensile design of the makeup and mostly in the last scene which has the monster threat being passed on to a line of police officers via a series of bites. The ending is it's most creative aspect, bringing the two mentioned themes into a film that haven't been mixed together in the past into a story that meshes them brilliantly is to be commended for it. It is also, at times, pretty funny, with plenty of great slapstick coming in throughout the film. The wax museum and dressing room gags are fall-down hilarious, and the round-robin stalking scene around a roof-top air conditioner allows for some nice laughs as well. With plenty of head-smacking, mistaken identity and pratfalls to be found as well, this can be just as funny as their other adventures. The wax museum sequence stands out as the film's highlight, as it's highly original, wonderfully played out, immensely creepy and full of energy, with nary a second wasted. It's one of the best scenes in their catalog, and remains quite good overall. The chasing at the end is a good way to end it, but lacks the energy of what came before. The opening attack, taking place in the fog-covered buildings, is suitably atmospheric and is a great opener. With a really good pace to it, this has a lot to like about it.
The Bad News: There isn't a whole lot here that wasn't good. One of the problems was the feminist subplot. While introducing the love angle that was to come, it doesn't serve any purpose beyond the first fifteen minutes beyond a fleeting moment at the ending, and there was a lot of other ways of getting the two together without forcing the angle upon the viewer. The few plot-points it gets easily could've been done in other fashions, and doesn't do much of anything beyond wasting screen time. It's thankfully dropped and forgotten about quite early in the film. Another problem is the repetitiveness of everything. Searching a possible hideout, everyone splits up, leaving the easily-scared one of the group to find the one responsible, go into a hysterical fit upon this, and run away in a comical manner, to be rejoined by the others and have his story laughed away as something. It's been done in their other ones, and doesn't really do much here other than provide a few giggles the first time, but wears thin upon repeated viewings. Beyond these, though, it's a fun entry.
The Final Verdict: A really underrated entry in their series, this one was a lot of fun and provides what is to be expected of these films. It provides plenty of opportunities for slapstick while giving a serious threat star treatment. At the very least, it requires a look-see for fans to give it a shot, it's not as bad.
Today's Rating-PG: Violence
Have just sat down and re-watched this film with my 3 kids and can definitely say that they loved it. Although by this time in their careers Abbott & Costello's top movie double-act crown was being swiped by those new kids Martin & Lewis,this movie was a box office smash when first released and still holds up well today. The mixture of comedy and horror works a treat as it had done in " Meet Frankenstein" a number of years earlier and Karloffs performance adds real class to the tomfoolery on screen. Of course the Universal depiction of turn of the century London,( all fog shrouded streets and fish & chip shops ) leaves a lot to be desired,I think it adds to the films charm in much the same way as when used in the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes mysteries of the same period. Bud and Lou carry off their roles well and the romantic subplot seems not to intrude as much as in the boys earlier wartime comedies. All in all a good little film to be watched on a rainy Monday afternoon.
The duo are in fine form. And although this isnt as good as meet Frankenstein. There is a fantastic Performance from Boris Karloff,he really is excellent in this as a man experimenting with drugs in order to get the girl he loves even though he has no chance of winning her heart.Rarely has a villain been almost sympathetic.some good chuckles as well. 8 out of 10
Abbott and Costello started with Frankenstein in 1948, and then proceeded to meet all the great monsters. In this film, the cowardly, hilarious duo team up with the King of Horror, Boris Karloff, as the misguided, evil Dr. Jekyll and his counterpart as the malicious, psychotic Mr. Hyde. This is the next best horror-comedy film for the duo after Frankenstein. It has wonderful sets, funny moments, and fantastic makeup as various individuals turn into Hyde-like beasts and Lou turns into a giant mouse. Karloff somehow remains his ever so serious self, amidst the slapstick humour. You can all most look in his eyes and see him thinking he is above this, but he turns in a very nice performance nonetheless.
I found this to be Abbott and Costello's last great movie. It's most underrated. The music and sets create a good Victorian atmosphere. Bud and Lou aren't at their funniest but they are highly enjoyable. Karloff is good too. Kids should love this movie though A+C aren't given much screen time in the first quarter of an hour, but the story is well set by then. Great stuff.
While not quite in the same league as A&C MEET FRANKENSTEIN (the top
fright flick in the duo's career), ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET DR. JEKYLL
AND MR. HYDE does manage to have the stars cavorting in Victorian
London while trying to unmask the respectable Dr. Jekyll (BORIS KARLOFF
in a delightfully underplayed role) as the mad killer Hyde.
HELEN WESTCOTT and CRAIG STEVENS play the romantic leads in standard fashion but the suffragette sub-plot is really an unnecessary distraction to the overall plot. Some of the sight gags are funny but toward the last segment of the story they're overplayed for whatever laughs can be drawn from the over-the-top situations.
Best segments of the well staged and handsomely mounted film are the scenes involving a wax museum which give the film some of its creepiest moments. The first chimney top chase is well done too and even more effective than the silly final chase which depends so heavily on the comic timing it gets from Stevens, Karloff, Abbott and Costello.
All told, it's got enough plot elements to keep your attention riveted on the story--everything from a sinister laboratory to hidden passages and bookcases that hide Jekyll's sinister experiments. The gaslit Victorian era with fogbound streets is well realized on Universal's studio sets.
Not the best of the A&C comedies, but certainly among the better mirth and fright films they did in the late '40s and early '50s. CRAIG STEVENS plays his role straight, as does Westcott, and together they and Karloff give the story whatever gravitas it has in the realm of boosting the suspenseful elements.
Admittedly inferior to their arguably best "Meet" film ABBOTT AND COSTELLO
MEET FRANKENSTEIN five years earlier during their golden age, this was
easily the best of their films in their declining years of the early to mid
The boys play a pair of NY cops on a work-experience exchange in Victorian London. They are soon on the trail of the diabolical MR HYDE (played on and off by Karloff) having already met Dr Jekyll in "polite society"
The story makes for some top comedic moments for Bud and Lou. The climactic chase after Lou is turned accidentally into a mouse is funny stuff. And thats all this is - funny stuff. A few reviewers here have gotten themselves into the psychology of the characters and seem miffed in the extreme at the liberties taken with R L Stevenson's original characters. Live with it...this was a highly watchable comedy and should be viewed upon the impact it made in 1953 NOT the new millennium.
This is among the best of Abbott and Costello's films because it is so
much fun. It also didn't hurt that it is one of their films that
combined monsters with comedy--a sure recipe for success. The first of
these films, ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN happens to be their
best film, but followup films with the Invisible Man, the Mummy and Dr.
Jekyll were also among their best films.
The film begins with Bud and Lou inexplicably working for the London police. Because they are Bud and Lou, they naturally get fired. So, they spend the rest of the movie trying to solve the big case, a serial killer, in order to get back on the force.
The trail takes them to Dr. Henry Jekyll (Boris Karloff) and despite his very pleasant demeanor, he's a real jerk. Underneath this nice facade, this incarnation of Jekyll is quite different from versions of the story starring John Barrymore, Frederic March or Spencer Tracy. Unlike these previous versions, Jekyll is truly evil and likes becoming the monster. In other words, he uses this new guise to kill with impunity because he is a horrible person. However, he really looked little like the movie Mr. Hyde when he transformed. Instead of the usual transformation, this time it looks like they used a rubber mask and it looked more like the Frederic March version of Jekyll combined with the Wolf-Man! The main reason to make his so unrecognizable was because this was a very active role (involving a lot of climbing and stunts) and Karloff was simply too old to handle these rigors. Frankly, though Hyde and Jekyll were quite different, this didn't bother me.
So what is so good about the film? Well, the most important plus this film has is no singing!! Hallelujah! Too many of Abbott and Costello's films (particularly the early ones) were heavily padded with songs that distracted the audience unnecessarily and added nothing to the plot. Additionally, like many of their best films, this one was plot and character-driven--not a bunch of semi-related vignettes and Vaudeville routines thrown together. In addition it sure didn't hurt that the ending was quite clever and funny as well--leaving the audience laughing as the credits rolled.
Overall, a film I'd place in the top five of the Abbott and Costello films. If you really care, and you might, this is how I'd place them in order from best to worst:
1. ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN
2. WHO DONE IT?
3. ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
4. ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KILLER
5. LITTLE GIANT (yes, I know most people hate this one but I liked it).
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