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This was the last feature for Universal that the two box office champs of the 40s did. Having met Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolfman, Dr. Jekyll, Mr Hyde, and the Invisible Man...Universal paired the two comedians with their mummy for one last go-round. The effort is not entirely satisfying, yet all together bad either. Bud and Lou seek their fortunes in Egypt when brought into a circle of intrigue, murder, and a curse of a mummy. The rest of the film centers around their bumbling, situational comedy, and a couple of dance hall numbers. The sets are pretty good, but the make-up for the mummy is definitely sub-par for the studio that brought us The Mummy in 1932. Richard Deacon stands out in a supporting role. Some pleasant scenes involve Bud and Lou playing hide-go-seek with a dead body(much like was done in A&C Meet the Killer), a trio of mummies treading through a hidden fortress, and a routine of Bud and Lou playing revolving hamburgers. Not their best to be sure, but sure to bring a smile to you.
Considering how late in their career this came, and how lame some of its predecessors were, this one is not too bad. And it's a joy to see some of the wordplay they were famous for make a welcome return amidst the routine slapstick. Sure, "Take your pick" "The shovel is my pick" is not on the same level as "Who's On First?", but it's still amusing enough, and it's fun to see them deal with one last Universal monster. 6/10
When the murder of an archaeologist puts a valuable medallion into
their hands, Abbott and Costello waste little time in trying to sell
it--only to find themselves pursued by police, a slinky adventuress, an
Egyptian high priest, and the mummy himself. The concept is amusing,
but the real charm of any Abbott and Costello film is the charismatic
comic interplay between the stars. Unfortunately, the 1955 MEET THE
MUMMY finds the two at a creative low ebb.
Featuring such notable character actors as Richard Deacon and Marie Windsor, the film is competently made and very easy to watch, but to say it lacks the inspiration of Abbott and Costello's best work would be a tremendous understatement. At most, MEET THE MUMMY is mildly amusing in a broadly slapstick sort of way, good for an occasional chuckle at best. It would be their last film at Universal and their next-to-last screen appearance together, so it might be best regarded as a fond farewell.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
"How stupid can you get?"
"How stupid do you want me to be?"
I thought this movie was better than I anticipated. It's a gentle comedy of 2 buffoons who stumble into an adventure in Egypt after one is mistaken for a murderer. It is relaxing and laid back but if you want funny Abbott and Costello then look else where. There's a cute scene which uses their poisoned drink routine where instead they use hamburgers and a cursed medallion. Again, Costello directed his comedy at the children by pulling faces and doing far too much talking at the camera. This was funny in some of their other films but not in this one. Another good scene is where Abbott and one of the bad guys dress up as the Mummy, this isn't laugh out loud comedy but one or two scenes should put a smile of any fan's face. Their last film for universal.
Abbott and Costello meet the Mummy is less of a movie then an episode of the Abbott and Costello show. Marjorie Windsor is a terrifically determined villainess and she helps to give the movie some drama and dark charisma but the movie is too unstructured otherwise. It's more on a final, undisciplined romp for Abbott and Costello. Even though their chemistry is long since gone, they are still brilliant comedians and they fake their way through the movie with a plethora of stand up bits. The good, clean comedy is a nice breath of fresh air. The opening slapstick gets the movie off on a good foot and the stage act (three women and one man) that performs is INCREDIBLE. The cult of Klaris is a major bore, ranging from the incredibly non-Egyptian "Egyptian" Richard Deacon to the cult, itself, that features a man who is clearly either Tibetan or Chinese. The routine that Costello does with the lady is hilarious and high spirted and the bit with the amulet is well timed. The plot point of Costello eating the amulet (in pieces) and then it appearing intact in his stomach is meaningless here as the whole movie is not for purists. The mummy is a major disappointment as the "bandages" look like a pajama outfit with a bandage pattern. Abbott gets into mummy's "wraps" for pretty much no reason other then to have three mummy's running around at one point. As if sensing that this is their last big blowout together, Costello is very natural with his criticisms of Abbott and Abbott seems almost too real with his abuse of Costello. Whatever dysfunction they had in their later years, they do their best here to slug it out. Costello acts like a man ready to jump off ship and he seems to be lightening his load for his journey. He gives a very light and a very funny performance. Abbott is sharper then he has been in years. Abbott was so sharp in his younger days that he looks bad in comparison here but his worst is still better then most people's best. The plot is pretty much garbage and unenthralling and the mummy is completely impotent but the performances of Abbott and Costello and Marie Windsor help move the show.
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY (Universal-International, 1955),
directed by Charles T. Lamont, is true to its title for a change,
considering the comedy team of Abbott and Costello actually using their
own names instead of what's listed in the closing credits, Bud Abbott
as Pete Patterson and Lou Costello as Freddie Franklin. Although they
do encounter the 4,000 year old mummy, he's hardly in the story until
the final 20 minutes or so. Following the tradition of "Abbott and
Costello Meet" titles and the cycle of fright comedies that all began
when they met "Frankenstein" (1948), with Dracula and the Wolf Man as
added bonuses, followed by them meeting "The Invisible Man" (1951), all
of which they enact character names, their venture with the Mummy was,
in fact, long overdue, coming very late in the cycle, yet released at a
time when the team was in need of something better than the weak
comedies they've been turning out in recent years. With Universal
finding great success with its "Francis the Talking Mule" and the "Ma
and Pa Kettle" series in the 1950s, it appears that Universal kept
Abbott and Costello on payroll longer than anticipated. As it appears,
"Meet the Mummy," demonstrated, too late in fact, that they were still
capable of making a good comedy, even when appearing opposite a
Universal monster to do it.
The monster in question is a mummy named Kharis, now renamed Klaris. Unlike the film series of the 1940s, there's no Tana leaves, no flashbacks recalling how Kharis was condemned to death, buried alive and cursed for all eternity, nor is there a high priest assigning or swearing in another to guide the mummy to murder anyone who gets in his way. In this venture, the story begins with this narration, "It has been said that a man's best friend is his mummy. In Egypt today, this theory is to be in great dispute for two bold adventurers are about to discover a new kind of mummy." The two bold adventurers in question turn out to be Abbott and Costello, a couple of stranded Americans in Egypt (there's no explanation as to how they got there and why). In the opening segment set at the Cafe Bagdad where an Apache Dance is being performed, archaeologist Dr. Gustav Zuma (Kurt Katch) is interviewed by the press for his discovery of the tomb of Klaris, the sacred medallion leading to the valuable treasure, and his anticipation in hiring a couple of trustees to act as chaperons for Klaris's venture back to the United States. His interview is overheard by a Bud and Lou, who learn that the only way for them to return home is to take the job. When they come to meet with Dr. Zoomer for the job in his hotel room, they find he's been murdered (killed by a poisoned dart in his ear) and the mummy in his possession gone. More troubles arise when Abbott is accused of the murder, thanks to Costello's blunder in picture taking that has found its way in the newspapers. Costello unwittingly holds the medallion, believed to be cursed, leading to the dual's encounter with rival villains: Madame Rontru (Marie Windsor), her henchmen, Charlie (Michael Ansara) and Josef (Dan Seymour); and "Professor" Semu (Richard Deacon), leader of the Followers of Klaris, and his associates, Iben (Mel Welles) and Habid (George Khoury), who will stop at nothing to obtain the medallion. Taking Abbott and Costello with them to the ancient pyramid where the treasure is buried, they come across numerous surprises, including the mummy (Eddie Parker), who's alive and well.
Typical Abbott and Costello comedy with the team coming off best with their familiar comedy routines, whether they'd be old, new or indifferent. Costello continues to be the master of comic timing with his frightful expressions (yelling "Hey, Abbott!") while encountering a bat, skeleton in the closet, a giant lizard, a run-on gag involving an asp, and, of course, the Mummy. Abbott and Costello offer some fine comic exchanges ("The shovel and the pick" coming off best), with fine support by comic villains, especially femme fatale Marie Windsor. The big climax occurs with Abbott and Charlie going under wraps as the mummy, leading to a merry chase around the temple. Aside from all that, the script takes time for entertainer Peggy King to sing "You Came a Long Way from St. Louis," and some Egyptian dance numbers performed by The Mazzone-Abbott Dancers. With some gags ranging from good to silly, with portions of the story not making any sense at all, this Abbott and Costello venture is sure to guarantee laughter for children and devotees of the comedy team. who, with this comedy, have ended their 15 year association with Universal Pictures. They starred in one more film together in 1956 before parting company.
One final note: Eddie Parker's Klaris is no way related or parallel to Lon Chaney Jr.'s Kharis of the 1940s. Kharis was mute with one eye exposed while Klaris roared like a lion with his face nearly exposed with limited bandages around his body, looking like something purchased from a bargain basement store. Overall, a one piece rubber suit or rejected Halloween costume. Aside from these flaws, the movie gets by, with Abbott and Costello, older but not wiser, doing what they do best.
Formerly presented on Comedy Channel (1990s); American Movie Classics (2001-02) and later Turner Classic Movies (2004-05), "Meet the Mummy" can be found in either VHS or DVD formats, compliments of Universal Home Video. Happy Mummy's Day. (**)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy" is a pretty underrated effort from
Egyptian-based archaeologists Peter Patterson, (Bud Abbott) and Freddie Franklin, (Lou Costello) overhear of an expedition to a new tomb that has unearthed a new mummy. Getting themselves onto the expedition by offering to watch it brought back to America. When they arrive, the doctor is killed and they are framed for the death. While trying to clear themselves of the false charge, Peter comes into possession of a sacred medallion. Chased by different groups who want them, including Madame Rontru, (Marie Windsor) who wants to use it to resurrect an ancient mummy. As the two travel to the tomb to return the medallion, the different parties converge together for their own reasons.
The Good News: This isn't as bad as it's reputation says. There are a lot of gags in here that don't work but do. The hamburger-switch sequence is a justifiable classic routine, and the earlier dead body discovery is a gut-buster. A couple of other similar silly scenes are spread throughout the movie that are just as hilarious, including several snake-charming scenes and some humorous physical gags at the beginning. The usual humor of the team is on full display here, and it should be pleasing for fans of the group. There is quite a rapid pace to this, and it flies by without any real problems. The gags come at a nice enough pace so that when it might start to dip into a lull, you're back into the film because of what has happened. The ending is complete madcap insanity, and provides some great laughs as well as being one of the best creative series of sequences in their history. It's one of their most impressive scenes, and is the highlight of the movie. There are a couple of nice scenes that could be construed as suspenseful, and are quite nicely realized. Add to that a nice part with a hidden skeleton and it has a little horror to the proceedings.
The Bad News: Most of what's wrong here is mostly just budgetary concerns. The sets look cheap and small, the locations are pretty much hampered by lack of design, and most of the time it looks dreary. When everything should look big and grand, they instead come as looking like cheap sets on a back-lot that where hastily filmed to get it out in a hurry. There's never a sense of anywhere they've been as a large place. This is mainly due to the budget, as their's no doubt that it could've been much more. The mummy costume looks incredibly bad, and is a far cry from the wonderful look of the original and isn't scary in the slightest. Looking exactly like moldy bandages wrapped up, they don't even cover his entire body, as there are several spots missing that weren't covered. It only elicits laughter when viewed.
The Final Verdict: While not the travesty many claim it is, it is still one of the better ones Abbott and Costello have done. Mummy fans might not like the look here, as it's pretty abominable, but the rest of the film is just fine. Worth at least a look for hardcore fans of the comedians, while others who aren't fond will probably want to advance with caution.
Today's Rating-PG: Violence
Bud and Lou are two down and out adventurers in Egypt struggling to get
some quick cash for a trip back home. They learn that a certain Dr.
Zoomer has recently unearthed the mummy known as Klaris, "the Prince of
Evil", and requires two good men to help him transport it back to the
states. But before they can volunteer their services, Zoomer is
murdered by two devoted followers of Klaris. Abbott and Costello then
become absorbed in a three-way tug of war to secure the mummy and
possess a sacred medallion which could lead to the discovery of the
tomb of Princess Ara and her treasure in the bargain. Also competing
for the prize is the dangerous Madame Rontru (played by sultry Marie
Windsor) and her two henchmen (one played by Michael Ansara). But the
Cult of Klaris (headed by Richard Deacon, who seems awkward in this
part) is determined to intervene and reclaim the mummy and the
medallion of Princess Ara for themselves and preserve the legend.
This was the next-to-final film for the aging Abbott and Costello, but yet it works quite well and emerges as one of their funniest from this period. The crazy plot helps to create some humorous shenanigans including a classic routine where Lou accidentally eats the sacred medallion which is hidden inside his hamburger, and another where he gets frustrated when Abbott keeps choosing to dig with a shovel even though Lou repeatedly tells him to "take your pick". The murder of Dr. Zoomer and the attempt by the killers to hide the corpse allows Costello another chance to go through his patented "disappearing bodies" shtick, though it's better done and not as repetitious here as it was in ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET THE KILLER. Both comedians are in great form throughout this comedy, and they're given some funny lines steadily throughout the picture (BUD: "How stupid can you get?" LOU: "How stupid do you want me to be"?)
For monster movie fans, the mummy Klaris (one wonders if this name was intentional or an error by the writers if they really meant to call him "Kharis" as in the Universal mummy series) is pretty bad looking; his bandaged carcass looks more like an over-sized pair of white pajamas, and his mushy face resembles a left-over egg roll. Klaris is played by Edwin Parker, a stuntman from back in the heyday of the classic Universal monster films who used to stand in as Frankenstein's monster, the Wolf Man and even "Kharis" himself. *** out of ****
For their final film with Universal Studios Bud Abbott and Lou Costello
visit Egypt and get themselves in one beautiful mess where the police
think Abbott murdered Kurt Katch and both of them get caught between
two rival gangs.
The first is the cult of Klaris, an ancient mummy buried alive and still alive through many incarnations at Universal in the horror film days and a gang of treasure hunters headed by Marie Windsor doing a poor girl's Gale Sondergaard imitation. Marie is so much better in modern noir films. Her henchmen are the well cast Michael Ansara and Dan Seymour, a menacing pair as ever graced the screen.
Richard Deacon plays the cult leader, an archeology professor by day and a high priest of the ancient Egyptian religion by night. I take my hat off to him for keeping an absolutely straight face through some of this insanity.
A&C sad to say were getting old and tired. In those last few films Abbott was developing as big a paunch as Costello. The team was running out of gas and Universal was now pushing to the forefront such young juvenile stars as Rock Hudson and Tony Curtis who were the big breadwinners for the studio the way Abbott&Costello were in the previous decade.
There were still a few laughs left in them yet. In fact Abbott in this one is almost as much a target for the physical comedy as Costello. Best bit is towards the end when Abbott and Ansara both disguised in mummy bandages meet the real Klaris.
Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy is nowhere near the kind of sparkle these two had in their films for Universal in the early Forties. Sad that their time had passed.
This was the boys last picture for Universal. Actually it is better
than some of the prior ones.
It has a better supporting cast than some with Marie Windsor & Richard Deacon. It has a better drawn story line than others too, as the script almost gets the idea right.
For the first time in many pictures, it has some of Abbott & Costellos better comic dialog which had been missing for several films. It includes the crisp "take your pick" routine and it is a breath of fresh air for the first time in a while.
There is a clever sequence where A & C pull a clever escape using some stunts that are cleverly done. There is a little music but it is not as obtrusive as some previous films. Overall, this is just slightly below their best films, much better than their worst ones.
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