Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953)

It’s pretty crummy that Abbott and Costello don’t get to do much with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In fact you have them in a movie with Boris Karloff who doesn’t get to do much to spook them beyond his monster mask, and you have the pair of knuckleheads that almost play second banana in their own movie. In fact, they don’t really show up until twenty minutes in to the movie, and their entrance smacks of sloppiness and lack of ideas. The pair should have memorable introductions, and yet here their characters Tubby and Slim are only in the story by circumstance.

There’s even a goofy musical number, and establishing of a romance sub-plot before we even see the team. And their reasoning for being in London is contrived, as they play American cops transported to London to learn how law enforcement works in the country. Karloff is Henry Jekyll, whose serum has turned him in to a murderer who’s been offing local doctors. He finds eyes for the lovely Vicky Edwards, a protestor for woman’s rights, who seemingly falls head over heels for reporter Bruce Adams. Jekyll is driven mad with jealous and begins trying to tear the couple apart with his alter-ego. Obviously Slim and Tubby are on the case and bumble right in to the terror that the mad doctor begins to wreak on locals and the young blossoming romantic couple.

When the characters Tubby and Slim aren’t engaging in retreads of former gags, the movie takes weird directions that are way too odd even for Abbott and Costello. It also becomes weirder when much of the exteriors for London are shot on a back lot with what look like left overs from past films. Speaking of left overs, a lot of the gags and skits feel recycled, with Tubby accidentally walking in to hidden corridors and rooms, and finding experiments of the doctor’s that aren’t what they seem. There’s also a long sequence with Tubby turning in to a man-cat that is never really all that funny, and Lou Costello, who seems to sadly be struggling with his comic pratfalls. Surely, this isn’t the best of Abbott and Costello, as they’ve been so much funnier in the past. But it’s only four minutes shy of eighty minutes in length, so it’s worth a watch only for the more devoted Abbott and Costello fanatics. And I kind of liked the surprise final scene.