ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN (1951) Reviews and overview

 

‘You’ll shiver… You’ll shudder… You’ll shout with laughter!’

Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man is a 1951 science-fiction comedy film about two idiotic private eyes and a boxer accused of murder; little do the duo know, he has become invisible to help clear his name.

Directed by Charles Lamont from a screenplay co-written by Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo and John Grant, based on a story by Hugh Wedlock Jr. and Howard Snyder and loosely inspired by H.G. Wells’ book The Invisible Man.

The Universal International Pictures production stars Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Nancy Guild, Arthur Franz, Adele Jergens and Sheldon Leonard. Produced by Howard Christie.

The invisibility special effects were created by Stanley Horsley, son of cinema pioneer David Horsley. He also did the special effects for The Invisible Man Returns, The Invisible Woman and Invisible Agent.

Reviews:

Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man marked a change of sorts for Bud and Lou, focusing more on physical humor and less on the duo’s patented verbal exchanges (a la Who’s on First?). And even though some of the pratfalls miss their mark, the movie features one or two inspired routines…” 2,500 Movies Challenge

“A string of uproarious gags and comic setpieces is highlighted by a boxing-ring finale, wherein Lou, backed up by the invisible Franz, dukes it out with a behemoth prizefighter. A clever special-effects closing gag caps this delightful A&C vehicle.” AllMovie

“The result, unfortunately, doesn’t live up to the comic possibilities that immediately spring to mind. An early scene in which a psychologist tries to analyze Lou Costello is hilarious, and two later scenes involving Costello, the Invisible Man, and boxing are even funnier. But what’s in between is uncharacteristically tame. Not bad — certainly diverting enough — but not Abbott and Costello’s best effort.” At-a-Glance Film Reviews

“Like its predecessors, it tries to be unsettling and uproarious, taking the invisible man as seriously as this type of entertainment allows, while the rest of the endeavor is gifted to Abbott and Costello, who are permitted time to make their side of the film their own, even when dealing with the complexity of visual tricks.” Blu-ray.com

“Fans of Bud and Lou (who play characters using their first and middle names) will get the most out of this one. Uni-horror fans might be let down for the lesser accent on horror, but if you stick with it, you’re likely to have a good time. Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951) is, despite the lack of any Gothic trappings, very funny.” Cool @ss Cinema

“Unlike the others, Meet the Invisible Man fits into the canon best, even as a loopy sports comedy. Seeing Costello swing at air while in the ring with a local up-and-comer isn’t out of character when considering the darts action of Invisible Man’s Revenge. Both share implausibility and stretch the concept to its limits, even spilling over and beyond. With Abbott and Costello, that’s fitting. This is why they were stars.” DoBlu.com

” …this has a definite storyline, even if the concept of an invisible man trying to prove his innocence was used before. Nonetheless, a storyline gives the viewer something to follow when the gags fall flat; it also pushes the story in some different directions so we don’t have a succession of “Lou is scared” gags…” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“Bud and Lou get to recycle a few of their routines, as usual, but also get plenty of new material to wring laughs from as they deal with their invisible client. And a boxing match in the third act is chock full of great physical comedy. Arthur Franz is, obviously, not actually onscreen for all that long but he gives a very good performance, both physically and vocally.” For It Is Man’s Number

“Even though at times the logic seems completely out of control it never matters, the comedy keeps everything in check and working perfectly. The film garnished them great box office returns and brought them the ability to incorporate fellow vaudevillian performers to other films and giving them the much-needed opportunities to gain their own footing.” The Horror Times

” …by the end of its first act, Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man has lost all direction. It lampoons detective films, boxing and even hospital dramas, but finds little interesting to do with its Invisible Man. It’s soon reduced to simply re-enacting scenes from earlier Invisible Man films, with the addition of Abbott and Costello but no sign of understanding what made the 1933 classic (or even its sequels) work.” Killer Horror Critic

“Directed by Charles Lamont, Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man is a fun comedy that delivers the laughs while also keeping the murder mystery aspect interesting. It’s a good Invisible Man movie and a good Abbott and Costello movie.” Life Between Frames

“Arthur Franz is fun as the invisible boxer and his interactions with the leads are bright spots, but sadly, he is pushed aside often to allow the more signature spots. In the end, this one is likely to leave monster fans cold, while those who have a taste for old school slapstick or Abbott and Costello’s routines should have a decent time.” Marc Fusion

” …an odd mix that seems one part Abbott and Costello’s low-jinks, the other a more interesting straight invisible man story. What makes the film watchable over and above the usual lowbrow numbskullery the two engage in are the excellent invisibility effects. Here we get to see the title character dressing and undressing, eating spaghetti and shuffling cards.” Moria

“Lou in the ring boxing (with the help of his invisible compatriot) is hilarious. Also interesting are the invisible effects, which in 1951 are a far cry from what were wasted in Hollow Man but still very nifty nonetheless. Funny on a par with Frankenstein (and perhaps only falling a little short due to there being only one “monster” to play off of), be sure to watch for William Frawley (a.k.a. Fred Mertz) as a comical detective.” Need Coffee

“Costello gets to the physical comedy and pratfalls that he so excelled at, and he does it brilliantly. Meanwhile, Abbott is also very funny as a fundamentally self-centered and greedy huckster who would probably sell out his own mother for a buck… but he is a charming rogue and you can’t help but like him even while thinking he’s being a bastard. While this isn’t the strongest of Abbott & Costello’s efforts, it has enough going for it…” Shades of Gray

“The Invisible Man gimmick is tailor-made for the physical gags and mistaken identity humour that was Lou and Buds comic ‘meat and potatoes’ and the effects are surprisingly sharp to boot (even if a couple of shots are lifted from previous The Invisible Man sequels). All in all, it’s a surprisingly strong last outing for ‘The Invisible One’.” Spoiler Alert

“The lead performances are vivid and engaging. Photography is up to par and the visual effects are some of the best Universal monsters have had at this point. It’s superficial and only scratches the surface of the subject, but it’s highly entertaining and aesthetically memorable.” Tales of Terror

“This is the best of the team’s later Meet the… series and is one of their funniest. The special effects are top-notch. The boxing sequences, (especially the scenes with the punching bag), spaghetti eating, and the last scene where Lou Costello becomes invisible are among the highlights.” The Video Vacuum

Cast and characters:

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 … Detective Roberts
Gavin Muir … Doctor Philip Gray
Sam Balter … Radio Announcer
John Daheim … Rocky Hanlon (as John Day)
Walter F. Appler … Professor Dugan (uncredited)

Filming locations:

Universal Studios – 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, California

Filming dates:

From October 3rd to November 6th 1950

Technical details:

82 minutes
Black and white
Aspect ratio: 1.37: 1
Audio: Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Fun facts:

The title on the print released is Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet the Invisible Man

The last names of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello’s characters, Bud Alexander and Lou Francis, are actually their real middle names.

The picture in Doctor Gray’s laboratory of Griffin, the inventor of the invisibility serum, is a photo of Claude Rains, who played the title role in The Invisible Man (1933).

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