Sunday, June 26, 2011

Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff

My all-time favorite old school comedy act is the Marx Brothers with a close second being Buster Keaton. But it seems Bud Abbott and Lou Costello somehow escaped my attention, except when I was a kid at grandma's laughing at the classic Who's On First, and then later at the video store where I worked (David’s college years, folks) enjoying Hold That Ghost and Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein. That’s about it, even though I’ve had Volume 3 of their movie collection sitting on the shelf for quite awhile. I finally decided it was time to catch up on this famed duo.

The Best of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Volume 3 contains eight movies from 1948-1953. I started with Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff. The boys work at a hotel where a guest is murdered and suspicion falls on Costello the bellhop and for good reason—bodies begin piling up in his room at a side-splitting alarming rate. Abbott plays the hotel detective who is only a tad smarter than his friend the bellhop and tries to clear him regardless of the evidence that is stacking up against his innocence. Boris Karloff does well playing it straight as a hypnotizing swami who attempts to convince Costello to off himself. Many other fine supporting characters you’ll immediately recognize come together for a classic Ellery Queen style whodunit.

The funniest scene for me was Abbott and Costello urgently trying to rid themselves of the bodies and at one point they set two stiffs up at a card table for a game of poker. Interestingly, every scene with a corpse was removed prior to distribution in Australia and New Zealand, and Denmark went so far as to ban the film completely.

I can't say I laughed a lot at this film but several scenes like corpse poker brought big chuckles and I’m looking forward to watching the other films in this collection which include Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Mexican Hayride, Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion, Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man, Comin’ Round the Mountain, Lost in Alaska, and Abbott and Costello Go to Mars.


Dan_Luft said...

Channel 11 out of New York used to show an Abbott and Costello movie every Sunday morning. I've seen them all, often. Of the group in your collection, Invisible Man is probably the best. Since you've seen A&C meet Frankenstein the next best bet would be "The Time of Their Lives" in which Costello is a ghost and Abbott is among the living.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've watched a few of these but wouldn't call myself a particular fan.

Oscar said...

I enjoyed the Abbott and Costello movies because of the little brain-power it took to understand them.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I remember the days when people knew how to pronounce Abbott. Now, in Detroit at least, it's pronounced as if it were an Arabic name.

Chad said...

I haven't seen an Abbott and Costello film in a long time. As a kid, I grew up in the country and you couldn't get cable out there where we lived, so it was just the antenna. We got like 4 channels--5 if the weather was just right. One of them aired the hell out of Abbot and Costello movies all day on Sundays.

Loved them then. Haven't gone back and watched them. Too afraid I'd hate them now. There's been too many things I've gone back and tried to revist from my childhood that I discovered were not very good at all.

David Cranmer said...

Charles, Humor has changed quite a bit since their day. Still many funny worthy scenes in the film I watched.

Oscar, :)

Very interesting, Patti.

Chad, I will watch a few more films before I know a little better how they have aged. I'm thinking not as well as the Marx Bros. That's my measuring stick for the old comedy acts.

Leah J. Utas said...

I was never big on Abbott and Costello. I may have to give it a rethink.

Ron Scheer said...

I remember the originals - interesting that they so often played slap stick comedy against murder, ghosts, and horror. Not sure who invented that genre or where it came from.

David Cranmer said...

Dan, INVISIBLE MAN was one of the best and the special effects were quite good.

Leah, If you like old style, A&C still delivers. Of their time, without a doubt.

Ron, "Murder, ghosts, and horror." I was looking for a title for a collection and you may have just found it.