ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN (director: Charles Lamont; screenwriters: based on a story by Hugh Wedlock Jr. and Howard Snyder/suggested by H. G. Wells’ “The Invisible Man”/John Grant/Robert Lees/Frederic I. Rinaldo; cinematographer: George Robinson; editor: Virgil Vogel; cast: Bud Abbott (Bud Alexander), Lou Costello (Lou Francis), Nancy Guild (Helen Gray), Arthur Franz (Tommy Nelson), Adele Jergens (Boots Marsden), Sheldon Leonard (Morgan), William Frawley (Dectective Roberts), Gavin Muir (Dr. Philip Gray), Sam Balter (Radio Announcer), John Day (Rocky Hanlon), Paul Maxey (Dr Turner); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Howard Christie; Universal-International; 1951)
“Not Funny.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Not Funny follow-up to the Abbott and Costello horror film spoof of the 1948 Universal picture “Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein,” that is actually more a gangster spoof than a horror one. The boys play Bud Alexander (Bud Abbott) and Lou Francis (Lou Costello), they just graduated from Dugan’s Detective School only because Bud bribes the school’s head with $20 to allow bumbler Lou to graduate. Their first case has escaped killer Tommy Nelson (Arthur Franz), a boxer wanted for the murder of his manager, running into their office and insisting that he’s been framed and having the boys escort him to the home of his sweetheart Helen Gray (Nancy Guild) and uncle Dr. Philip Gray (Gavin Muir), where Tommy takes an experimental serum that makes him invisible (the same formula created by Claude Rains in the 1933 Invisible Man). Bud leaves Lou to call the police to collect the reward on Tommy; Detective Roberts (William Frawley) arrives, but he doesn’t see the invisible Tommy and thinks Lou is batty because he says his prisoner just vanished into thin air and sends him to see a police shrink (Paul Maxey) for hypnosis. Eventually Tommy hires the boys to help to catch the real killer by trapping crooked fight promoter Morgan (Sheldon Leonard) into fixing a fight. Lou is made to look like a great fighting prospect as the invisible Tommy does his punching, and gets into the ring with middle-weight challenger Rocky Hanlon (John Day) after receiving a bribe of $15,000 from Morgan to take a fall in the fifth round. It’s interesting to note that Costello boxed as an amateur under the pseudonym Lou King. The boxing scenes were the film’s centerpiece, with the broad physical comedy coming about as Lou dukes it out with Rocky and the invisible Tommy supplies the KO blow.

If there was something funny, it eluded me though there’s the usual duo’s double takes and formulaic lowbrow gags. The Abbott and Costello comedy team were considered the most popular one in film history, and this film was one of their biggest box office hits and received more critical praise than their other films in the horror spoof series.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”