Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953) – A Review
|Abbott and Costello Meet
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Bud and Lou are Slim and Tubby, two American who are studying police tactics in London, but because they’re so inept they get canned. The only way they can get their jobs back at the police force is to catch the dangerous murderer on the loose.
They don’t realize the mystery man prowling the streets is none other than Mr. Hyde the evil alter ego of Dr. Jekyll played by the one and only Boris Karloff. Commence with a lot of running, screaming and falling!
This is a bit of ‘going through the motions’ for Bud and Lou and their monster meet ups. At about an hour and fifteen minutes A&C Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde feels like it’s running on fumes very quickly. It doesn’t seem like they thought of anything new to do with this one, other than using Dr. Jekyll for this entry.
One thing I was disappointed by was there was no great verbal sparring bits between Bud and Lou in this one. Usually in their movies there’s at least one scene of them doing their rat-a-tat-tat bantering. Even if it’s completely out of place, those scenes typically end up as a high point in the movie and showcase one of the things that make them so special. Here, there’s nothing like that.
Instead there’s plenty of physical comedy. Pratfalls, yelling in fright, you know it’s the usual kind of stuff and none are done any better than what had come before. It might not be fair to compare A&C Meet Frankenstein to their later ‘Meet Up’ movies, but that was the benchmark of the best of their horror spoofs. Being reminded of that movie you can see the sharp decline with Mr. Hyde.
It’s nice to see Karloff, but his appearance doesn’t help things much. His Dr. Jekyll is flat out evil and willingly takes his potion to turn him into Mr. Hyde. His transformation isn’t accidental at all. Both of his sides are flat out evil. It’s a different approach, but ends up being kind of pointless. Karloff only plays the Dr. Jekyll part, but when his dastardly Dr. Jekyll meets Bud and Lou there aren’t really any laughs that happen between them. It’s all rather blasé.
It’s when Mr. Hyde shows up – who looks more Wolfman-like than I think he should – the bumbling and fright happens. Eh. It’s a lot of running around, slamming doors, Lou getting locked in a wax museum (guess what jokes are in there).
Things liven up a bit when Lou gets injected with the Hyde serum and transforms. There’s an amusing scene of the four characters on a rooftop choreographing their movements just right that they miss seeing each other. It’s one of those amusing sight gags older movies could do so well.
This is not Bud and Lou’s best and ends up being pretty disposable Abbott and Costello comedy. It was around this time they had begun their television show and perhaps that was where most of their energy went. It’s certainly where you’ll find more laughs than their encounter with Dr. Jekyll.