After the box-office bonanza that Universal reaped by pitting Bud and Lou against Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, and the Wolf Man in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, it was only natural that the comedy team be allowed to take a whack at the rest of Universal’s classic monsters. And, while the Invisible Man is not really a monster per se, Universal had still initiated a series of films that featured him (and assorted other invisible persons as well) in the early ‘40s, all based more or less on the 1933 original feature starring Claude Rains.
And that brings us to today’s film of interest. Bud and Lou play Bud and Lou (hey, sometimes the character-name well runs dry), two recent detective school graduates who take on trying to prove the innocence of a boxer who was framed for murder. Conveniently, said boxer also knows a doctor who was willed the invisibility formula from the original Invisible Man, and, wouldn’t you know it, the boxer ends up invisible. Of course, there’s that nasty side effect of invisibility wherein the unseen one starts to develop megalomaniacal tendencies that make Kim Jong Il look demure. And THEN he goes insane. Let’s just hope that they can clear his name before he goes all foamy at the mouth.
During the early years of their movie career, Abbott and Costello were obviously making films for adults. But sometime after …Meet Frankenstein, the films started skewing for decidedly younger audiences. Naturally, all of Bud and Lou’s films were made for the widest audiences possible, but the first ones would occasionally slip in jokes that only adults would get. Those are a thing of the past in this film. This one feels like it was done for the kids. And I’m not knocking it for that—I can only imagine the sheer pandemonium of a Saturday afternoon matinee of this film in 1951.
So, the verdict for this one: It’s not bad, but it’s certainly not Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. The special effects are pretty good—I only noticed one time that the matte work on the Invisible Man wasn’t up to snuff. It’s not quite as funny as some of the duo’s other films, but any film that features folks getting bonked on the head with a large wooden mallet is okay by me. (Maybe it’s a guy thing.) The last twenty minutes or so are a lot of fun, and the very end is totally gonzo, coming from WAAAAY out in left field.
YouTube has let me down–for Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man, it only had about a half-dozen links to dodgy sites where you can watch the full-length movie, a clip subtitled in Russian (I think), and a trailer recorded from Turner Classic Movies. Slim pickings indeed, so I just bypassed YouTube this time.
Here’s a link to the theatrical trailer directly from the Turner Classic Movies website. Enjoy! (Be patient, though–it takes a while to load!)