ABBOTT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS (1953) Reviews and overview

   

‘They’re too wild for one world!’

Abbott and Costello Go to Mars is a 1953 American science-fiction comedy film in which two workmen accidentally launch a space rocket. Initially, they land in New Orleans but eventually travel to the planet Venus.

Directed by Charles Lamont from a screenplay co-written by D.D. Beauchamp and John Grant from a story by producer Howard Christie and D.D. Beauchamp. The movie stars Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Mari Blanchard, Robert Paige, Horace McMahon and Martha Hyer.

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“Reportedly, this bizarre melange of sci-fi and slapstick was based on a story by Charles Beaumont, who received no screen credit (it’s worth noting that Beaumont’s later Queen of Outer Space boasts a remarkably similar plotline). Long considered the team’s worst film, Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (“and about time!” quipped the New York Times‘ TV-movie reviewer) is rather likeable in its own incoherent way.” AllMovie

“The space costumes involve a bowl over their heads and the Venus set is backdrops and glamorous women (who were actually Miss Universe contestants)… it feels like it is a throwback even for 1953. The Venus cars in the film also were used in the classic This Island Earth. Abbott and Costello Go to Mars was a fun entry in the Abbott and Costello series.” Basement Rejects

Abbott and Costello Go to Mars is populated with Miss Universe contestants to play Venusian residents (including Anita Ekberg), offering some prime ogling opportunities, but it’s most interested in sci-fi-tinged encounters, putting Orville up against the strangeness and petty jealousies of this alien world.” Blu-ray.com

“All things considered, Abbott and Costello Go to Mars isn’t the worst outing I’ve seen Bud and Lou endure. Their meeting with Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was even more humorless, and I can think of a zillion ways of how this particular premise could’ve been even more pandering. Abbott and Costello Go to Mars spares a smirk once in a while…” Cineslice

GtM is nothing but fun. It’s a spoof. The superimposed model-on-string rocket is hardly serious special effects. The gags are still funny, and the many innuendoes are subtly delivered with straight faces. Their mistaking the outskirts of New Orleans at Mardi Gras for a Mars is silly but fun. Then their mistaking the planet Venus for Los Angeles, is a fun spoof on their own movie.” Classic Sci-Fi Movies

“Unfortunately, the jokes and gags are very uneven; the weightlessness sequence is not only highly inaccurate, it’s also bizarre rather than funny. The addition of two comic characters who slightly resemble Bud and Lou also seems unnecessary. My favorite sequence is probably the middle part, where they land in the bayou near New Orleans and visit the town during Mardi Gras under the belief they are on Mars.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“I’ve seen this called Abbott and Costello’s worst film, but it’s a work of flaming genius compared with the non-comedic 1950s versions of this sub-genre (“manly all-American astronauts go to a planet of women who’ve never seen a male”). Cat-Women of the Moon came out in the same year, for crying out loud. Yikes. At least Abbott and Costello are watchable.” Finn Clark

Mari Blanchard

“Abbott and Costello never go to Mars in Abbott and Costello Go to Mars. All the same, you’ll enjoy the antiquated optical effects, harmless slapstick set-ups and good-ol’-fashioned alcoholic jokes.” Flick Attack

“There are one or two set-pieces (including a tussle without gravity) that stand out, a pleasing lack of any musical numbers and plenty of decent one-liners in the script. Even the dated look of the sci-fi elements (big fishbowl-space helmets, endearingly poor special effects, etc) actually made me like the whole thing even more, like some comedy riff on the sci-fi comic books of the time. Which is, essentially, what it is.” For It Is Man’s Number

“The movie spends an inordinate amount of time in New Orleans, so much so that the film should’ve been retitled “Abbott and Costello Go to Venus via New Orleans.” Not much of that footage made me laugh and the two thieves (Jack Kruschen and Horace McMahon) are about as one-note as the gags. However, once the team arrives in Venus, the film perks up a little and has a little bounce to it with some terrifically eye-popping sets.” Jerry Saravia

“The earthbound scenes are slightly better than the slapstick inanity once we arrive on Venus. The New Orleans scenes with people wearing oversized heads momentarily attain a certain Alice in Wonderland-like surrealism. There is an occasionally engaging slapstick energy to it all.” Moria

” …once the film finally makes it into space, it starts to get funny. But in a short feature like this, you need to get to the funny quicker. It almost feels like they had two (or maybe three) scripts that they tried to cobble together into one.” Need Coffee

” …a thin plot that is stretched to the breaking point to fill the movie’s 77-minute running time, and every joke is beaten to death, particularly during the New Orleans segment. Things pick up a bit when the action moves to Venus (where Costello is made King), but it’s only a slight improvement. I’m not even sure if it’s the distraction of all the scantily clad beauty queens that tricked me into thinking the film got better.” Shades of Gray

” …full of lovely ladies blessed with eternal youth that was quite the fantasy in this era – Cat-Women of the Moon and Queen of Outer Space used it as well, among others. Cult pin-up Mari Blanchard essays the Queen role here, and it’s the basis of mild sexism and daft humour that is at least more palatable than the rather too forceful slapstick that takes up the rest of the film…” The Spinning Image

“Many critics say this is the team’s worst film, but it’s fun if you’re an indiscriminate fan of the team (like me). Like Meet the Killer, the title is all wrong since Abbott and Costello actually go to Venus and not Mars. Venus, if you didn’t know is populated entirely of beauty pageant winners (including Anita Ekberg).” The Video Vacuum

Anita Ekberg on set as a Venusian

Cast and characters:

Bud Abbott … Lester
Lou Costello … Orville
Mari Blanchard … Queen Allura
Robert Paige … Doctor Wilson
Horace McMahon … Mugsy
Martha Hyer … Janie Howe
Jack Kruschen … Harry
Joe Kirk … Doctor Orvilla
Jean Willes … Venusian Captain Olivia
Anita Ekberg … Venusian Guard
James Flavin … First Policeman in Bank
Jackie Loughery … Venusian Guard (as Miss USA)
Ruth Hampton … Handmaiden (as Ruth June Hampton) (as Miss New Jersey)
Valerie Jackson … Handmaiden (as Miss Montana)
Renate Hoy … Handmaiden (as Renate Huy) (as Miss Germany)
Jeanne Thompson … Handmaiden (as Miss Louisiana)
Jeri Miller … Venusian Guard (as Miss Welcome to Long Beach)
Judy Hatula … Venusian Guard (as Miss Michigan)
Elsa Edsman … Handmaiden (as Elza Edsman) (as Miss Hawaii)

Filming locations:

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

Technical details:

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

Trailer:

MOVIES and MANIA rating: