My friend Marcy has a theory, which I’m pretty sure she cribbed from Quentin Tarantino: You’re either an Elvis person, or you’re a Beatles person. You may be able to like both, but you can’t like them equally—either the Beatles or Elvis will always have a slight edge over the other in your eyes.
My friend Dana and I have developed a corollary to Marcy’s law, and it goes something like this: You’re either a Marx Brothers person, or you’re an Abbott and Costello person. You can like them both, but you can’t like them equally. Dana is a Marx Brothers person. He’s seen all of their films countless times, has read every book on them that he could get his hands on, and even has Groucho as his computer desktop wallpaper (or at least he did at one point). I, on the other hand, am an Abbott and Costello person.
Of course, I enjoy the Marx Brothers as much as the next person. I know the secret word is “swordfish.” But, when it comes down to brass tacks, I find Abbott and Costello funnier than the Marx Brothers. I don’t think that this preference has anything to do with how old a person is when first introduced to the two comedy teams, or which team you discovered first. It simply boils down to who makes you laugh harder.
Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde may not make you chuckle from beginning to end, but there are enough funny bits to keep a fan like me entertained. I laughed out loud a few times, and Lou’s asides to the camera are always enjoyable. However, if you’ve never seen a Bud and Lou film, this probably isn’t the best one to start with.
I thought about giving a synopsis of the film, but the beauty of most of the Abbott and Costello films is that the film is summarized pretty much in the title. So, yeah, Slim and Tubby (played by Bud and Lou—and aren’t the character names just the height of wit?) run afoul of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde (as played by Boris Karloff/Eddie Parker). That’s really all you need to know.
Oh, one more thing, and I don’t think that this will spoil your enjoyment of the film if you’ve never seen it. At one point in the film Lou turns into a giant mouse. The odd thing is, the giant mouse is a whole lot scarier than Mr. Hyde. Even though the mouse talks in Lou’s voice, and it isn’t doing anything harmful, I’m very sure that I would be frightened senseless if it walked up to me and started talking. Just a word of warning.
So, in the final analysis, Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is an acceptable time-filler for most viewers. Fans will like it somewhat more; Marx Brothers devotees will avoid it anyway.
To save you time and trouble, here’s the entire film from YouTube (although, if I were you, I’d watch it now before they take it down due to copyright violations):