Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cheating at Poker against the Invisible Man

After that darker film, I thought we would go with something a little more…cheerful! And what could be more cheerful than Abbot and Costello? Bud Abbot and Lou Costello were a comedian duo from the 1950s, stars of the world of stage, radio and most importantly for our purposes: film. They had a number of silver screen appearances and of those appearances, they did a series of films in which they “met” someone famous (like the Wolfman, Frankenstein and several other others). Today, we will look at Abbot & Costello Meet the Invisible Man.

When we first see Bud and Lou, you can really tell who is the “straight man” (as they call them in comedy) and who is the man of comedy. Abbot is this-by-the-book, stand-up-straight sort of guy. Costello, however, is quite comedic. He trips when everyone else (including Abbot) is marching and falls getting into his chair.

At the beginning of the film, this duo just graduated from Dugan’s Detective Training Graduating Class. Although it makes sense that Abbot graduated, even Costello himself is surprised he graduated. This is easily explained by Abbot saying, “I slipped the man $20 bucks.” (Ah, times when life was simpler!)

Any ways, now that they have tweeked the system and become “official” detectives, they were hired by a mysterious man. At once, we begin to realize that this man is not the most steadfast of citizens. After a convenient police report, the duo realize that the man, Tommy Nelsen, had just escaped from prison. Turns out, Nelsen had been a boxer when it was believed he killed his trainer.

When Nelsen’s location is surrounded by police (who were tipped off by the greedy Abbot who wanted the reward for Nelsen’s whereabouts), he takes a formula and becomes this movie’s Invisible Man. Turns out, a doctor friend of Nelsen’s (whose house he is surrounded in) had received the formula from the original Invisible Man (from H. G. Well’s book) after his death. Ever sense, the doctor had been trying to create an antidote to the forumula and its madness.

Nelsen team up with Abbot and Costello to bring the person who framed him to justice. Being invisible, Nelsen gives this movie several funny moments. One of my favorite (and the most memorable) is when Nelsen, Abbot and Costello are playing poker. Being such a joker and terrible at cards, Costello tries cheating at cards against Nelsen (where I get the title of this review). Fortunately, Nelsen sees right through that ploy (just like everyone else sees right through him).

This is just a fun film. Think of it as a combination of the Invisible Man, some mystery elements and a very funny comedy duo. The plot isn’t really strong, but that isn’t what makes this entertaining. It isn’t philosophical either like the previous film, The Seventh Seal, nor do you have to really think about who the real antagonist of the film is, but it is just pure fun to see what Abbot or Costello do next. For those fans of slapstick, this is the film for you.

Remember, I don’t own this 1951 Universal Film, although my alanasis of this film is copy righted.

Favorite Quote and Image
“…then I shook hands with him. His hands were gone.
Then I went to speak with him. His head was gone.
Then he took off his shirt. His body was gone.
Then he took off his pants. His legs were gone.
Then he spoke to me. Then I was gone.”
--Costello describing when he saw Nelsen begin to disappear.

Best picture I could find. One day I'll get a screen shot of them playing cards. Now that is an image!