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ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY

Review by Ed Nguyen

Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Marie Windsor, Richard Deacon, Eddie Parker
Director: Charles Lamont
Audio: English monaural, Spanish, French
Subtitles: English
Video: Black & white, full-frame 1.33:1
Studio: Universal
Features: Trailer, production notes
Length: 80 minutes
Release Date: August 18, 2001

Abbott:  "How stupid can you get?"

Costello:  "How stupid do you want me to be?"

Film ***

All good things must come to an end.  And so it was when Universal released Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy in 1955.  Bud Abbott and Lou Costello's illustrious association with Universal had begun with 1940's One Night in the Tropics, but by the mid-1950's, the comedy duo's clean brand of sometimes-burlesque and sometimes-radio skit comedy was being passed over for the chaotic mayhem of the Martin & Lewis team and the exciting vibes of early rock 'n' roll music.  Nevertheless, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy today remains one of the boys' more entertaining films, a last hurrah and a fun throwback to the innocent fun and music of the duo's war-era films.

Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy finds our boys in Egypt, where everyone seems to be obsessed with a missing medallion belonging to the mummy Klaris.  The mummy's medallion purportedly reveals the location of vast riches and treasures.  By pure accident, the medallion falls into Costello's unsuspecting hands after the previous owner, a local archaeologist, mysteriously dies.

Now, everyone wants that medallion for him/herself.  A gold-digging femme fatale (Marie Windsor) is willing to sacrifice our boys' lives to acquire it.  Her motto - "There is no curse that a gun or a knife can't cure."  The local police, believing that Abbott & Costello have killed the archaeologist, want the boys in prison.  A secret society, led by the high priest Semu (Richard Deacon), has been entrusted to protect the sacred treasure of Klaris and seeks to recover the medallion.  And we mustn't forget the mummy Klaris, who is the true owner of the medallion after all!

Naturally, bedlam soon ensues with chase scenes galore.  Our boys get run all about town, and the pursuit eventually continues within the cavernous lair of the mummy itself.  The goofy and madcap finale even has everyone chasing after each other, including three mummies!

Along the way, there are many comedic highlights, including a rip-roaring burlesque act at the very start.  There is also a repeating gag about Costello's snake-charming skills, and fans of the boys' classic "Who's on First?" skit will find a variation on it in this film, this time with a shovel and a pickax.  Another amusing variation, on a food-switching gag from the Abbott & Costello film Pardon My Sarong, has Costello eating the medallion by accident!

Of course, this wouldn't be an Abbott & Costello film without at least one catchy song.  So, there is a big band tune smack in the middle of the film that gleefully ignores the shifting tides on the rock 'n' roll musical scene and shifts the tone of this comedy back to the heyday of the war-era musicals.  A couple of dance numbers involving Egyptian dancing girls also serve to brighten the festivities.

Nevertheless, this is still a "horror" film, so the recipe calls for some bats, a skeleton, and even a giant scaly monster.  Fans of "serious" Universal mummy films may cringe at the undead monster's undignified role in this film as pure comedic relief, but it still makes for a very amusing stiff.

After Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, the boys would only star together in one more minor film (not produced by Universal).  In 1957, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello would part ways amicably, bringing a close to one of the most successful partnerships in film history.  This film is really their final graceful curtain call and a fine conclusion to a wonderful showbiz career together.

Video ***

Aside from a bit of wear and tear early on, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy looks quite decent.  The image quality is sharp and detailed, and gray scale levels are very reasonable.  The film is shown in its original black & white, full-frame format.

Audio **

This is a simple monophonic film and pretty much sounds like one.  The audio comes predominately  from the center speaker and is crisp if not particularly dynamic.  However, the sound quality is generally more than adequate, with only a trace of background hiss.

Features *

There is a trailer and brief production notes about the film.

Summary:

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello show that after over thirty films together, they may have aged but they haven't lost their touch.  Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy is the best of the boys' 1950's films and remains to this day a fan favorite.

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