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Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1953)

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5.8
 / 10
1 vote
Genres:
Comedy, Parody / Spoof, Slapstick
Director:
Charles Lamont Charles Lamont
Starring:
Bud Abbott Bud Abbott
Lou Costello Lou Costello
Boris Karloff Boris Karloff
Craig Stevens Craig Stevens
Helen Westcott Helen Westcott
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Review by Tristan
Added: September 07, 2008
As a reviewer, you constantly subject yourself to really bad movies - intentionally or not. Now once in awhile you find yourself at a crossroads. "Do I review this terrible looking film and have a little fun trashing it, or do I watch this safe movie that I know I'll enjoy?" Well since this is my 100th review on our beloved MvMMDI, I figured I'd treat myself to one of said films. As a kid, I only cared about two things: horror (obviously) and comedy. When I was first introduced to Abbott and Costello - by my grandparents, oddly enough - I was in heaven. Not only were these men hilarious, but they managed to work out a deal with 5 of the 6 Universal Monsters, as well as several other mystery / thriller movies. So for a majority of their films, they were able to reach me on both a horror and a comedic front.

For the few of you out there who don't know the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, here's a quick little rundown. Dr. Jekyll is a brilliant doctor who has many theories on why man commits violent acts and the lower primate part of the brain. In the novel he develops a serum that transforms him. In a nutshell, all the bad parts of his personality come forward to create this other character known as Mr. Hyde, who roams the London streets committing violent crimes and the occasional murder. Where could Abbott and Costello tie themselves into a story like this, you might ask. Well I'll tell you.

Slim (Abbott) and Tubby (Costello) are two appropriately named American cops on the London police force. While trying to break up a suffragette rally started by Vicky Edwards (Helen Westcott) the two bumbling bobbies are imprisoned along with local journalist Bruce Adams (Craig Stevens). Slim and Tubby are thrown off the police force for their lack of professionalism while Adams and Edwards are bailed out by a Dr. Henry Jekyll (horror legend Boris Karloff), the city's most renowned doctor of sciences. It turns out that Jekyll has been Vicky's guardian for a number of years, and is madly in love with her. This is quickly disrupted however when newcomer Mr. Adams falls for Vicky, causing Dr. Jekyll to use his serum to change into Hyde, hoping to dispose of Adams. Slim and Tubby, eager to get back on the police force, find the cities infamous monster and start a manhunt of their own to catch him and regain their spot on the police force.

As you might have already guessed, I adore this movie. It was my first experience with the hilarious team that is Abbott and Costello, an adoration that hasn't faded over the past 16 years and certainly doesn't appear to be anytime soon. Like I mentioned earlier, I've been watching their films since I was a little kid and this has always been my favorite. I wouldn't even be able to call it nostalgia as I still watch these movies often. I guess I'm just hooked on these two men, and this definitely holds a spot in my favorite comedies of all time. I was never big on the Three Stooges or Laurel & Hardy, so as far as old school slapstick comedies go, they were my favorite.

Any film with Boris Karloff is worth watching. I don't care how bad it is, that man can never turn in a poor performance. Even in something as boring as The Terror, Karloff proved himself to be a tremendous onscreen presence and completely owned the screen. I've heard a lot of people say that he was lifeless and terrible in this movie, but I disagree. He didn't give us a Dr. Sovac or a Dr. Fu Manchu, but he was certainly believable as the dark and mysterious Dr. Jekyll. Unfortunately the role didn't give him a lot of screen time, as the majority of the film was occupied by Mr. Hyde, who was played by a stuntman.

The one aspect of this film that I particularly enjoyed, while also finding it quite dark for a 1950's comedy, was the way Dr. Jekyll was written. Rather than being the experimenting scientist trying to figure out a cure for violence and anger, who eventually submits to his "Hyde side", Karloff's Jekyll was an angry and disturbed man who purposely used Hyde to carry out his dirty work while keeping a clean conscience. One last thing I'd like to point out was the makeup work done on Hyde. The transformation scenes were identical to the 1941 film The Wolf Man, using the same lap dissolve techniques, and the makeup itself was quite realistic and creepy for a comedy. I can remember being quite frightened by this as a young kid.

Something I don't find very surprising about this film - and all their films for that matter - is their ability to still be just as funny today as they were in the 50's. Taking into consideration you actually enjoy this style of humor, this is one of their funniest movies and doesn't cease to amuse me every time I watch it. Is this a perfect movie? Not exactly, but for what it is, I couldn't ask for anything more. I've been watching this movie for over 15 years and to this day I'm still in love with it. I know it isn't the best performance Karloff's turned in, but I don't think I've ever seen that man act and said to myself "That could have been better." Even on his worst day, the man is capable of putting 90% of today's actors to shame. The same can be said for Abbott and Costello. There are literally thousands of "buddy comedies" out there but in my eyes, none of them can match the comedy duo that is Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.

10/10.
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