Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Howard Christie for Universal
directed by Charles Lamont
starring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Boris Karloff, Craig Stevens, Helen Westcott, Reginal Denny, John Dierkes, Jimmy Aubrey, Henry Corden, Carmen De Lavallade, Al Ferguson
screenstory by Sid Fields, Grant Garett, screenplay by Howard Dimsdale, Lee Loeb, John Grant, based on the novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Abbott & Costello, Jekyll and Hyde, Universal horror cycle
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London, the late 19th century: A monster is roaming the street killing
people - but reporter Bruce (Craig Stevens) couldn't care less, because he
has just met dancer Vicky (Helen Westcott), who is also a leader of the
suffragette movement, and has fallen in love with her at first sight. Good
thing then that she has fallen in love with him as well, and before you
know it, they want to marry.
Good news so far, bad news though that
Vicky's guardian is one Dr. Jekyll (Boris Karloff), who doesn't only not
apporove of his ward's plans because he wants her all to himself, he has
also developed a serum that will turn him into a monster everytime he
needs to kill someone. Initially, Jekyll wants to kill Bruce backstage
during one of Vicky's shows, but he is chased away by inept suspended cops
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello - and by some coincidence Costello even
manages to put Jekyll as the monster behind bars, but once the monster has
turned back into Jekyll, nobody believes him they are one and the same
person. And not only that, resulting from this botched up almost arrest,
Jekyll insists that Abbott and Costello remain at his house for the nights
as guests and bodyguards - a night during which Costello is temporarily
turned into a mouse, which at least convinces Abbott that Jekyll might be
Eventually, everybody can be convinced that Jekyll really
is the monster, and a big manhunt starts, but then Costello turns into a
monster as well, which leads to much confusion before Abbott captures
Costello and tries to present him to the police chief as the original
monster while Jekyll the monster falls out of a window to his death and
turns back into Jekyll the man ...
Now I don't know who thought
Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
might be a good source material for an Abbott & Costello-flick,
because in writing that sounds like a pretty bad idea. Having said that, Abbott
and Costello meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde isn't too bad and almost
works. True, all the best bits of the source material as well as its
philosophical undercurrents are thrown out in favour of some comedy and a
love story, but at least Abbott and Costello are properly worked into the
plot and their comedy is not as annoying as in most of their other films.
True, all of this doesn't make Abbott and Costello meet Dr. Jekyll and
Mr. Hyde a good film, not by a longshot, but it's by far not as bad as
the film's premise makes it appear to be.