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Irresistible and Charming; They always bring out a smile
on August 17, 2004
This set is as solid a value as Volume One, perhaps more so. There are more weak films in this package than in the first volume but the strongest films included are among the pair's best. The transfers, once again are excellent. Because the material is newer the audio quality is better. This should be a must for all fans of Bud and Lou.
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein ****
This is (without a doubt) one of their best features. Between the presence of the full line of Universal Studio's famous monsters and the duo in top form there's hardly a moment in this film that doesn't work. The film features one of their strongest takes on the "moving candle" routine. The interplay between the pair while they read the about the legends of the monsters is fabulous. Lou's scene in the Monster's lap is not to be missed.
Mexican Hayride ***
This is a bit off the beaten track for Bud and Lou. It's one of the few times that Bud played somebody who was actually bad as opposed to just being frustrated with and (prone to) taking advantage of the slow-witted character Lou played. It is funny though. The bullfight is not to be missed. There's also the logic of how the stock " has to be good" and the bit with the "Mother-lode". It's not their best but is far from their worst. What it lacks in consistency it often makes up for in warmth.
Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer **
This should have been far better. The plot is sound enough and the cast was strong. Boris Karloff wasn't used nearly as well as he could have been. He's central to the film's best (and funniest) scene but languishes as a secondary character afterward. There aren't enough of the regular exchanges that take place between Bud and Lou. The ones that are there are too short. Because of it the film relies mainly on slapstick to generate laughs, a device which, without the character development created by those exchanges, doesn't work.
Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion ****
There's a level of spontaneity here that makes this one of the crown jewels of the set. It's true that some of he special effects look badly dated but that's not a big problem. This film, unlike a few of their vehicles (A&C meet the Killer to name one) gives plenty of opportunity for the two to play off each other. Even better, a lot of it looks to be "off the cuff", as if they were given a framework and allowed to run. Whatever was the case they're in top form. Hilarious!
Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man ****
This is probably second in stature only to Bud and Lou meeting all of the monsters. It deserves that ranking-it comes very close to being just as good. Lou's reaction to Tommy Nelson turning invisible is priceless. The big fight is a hoot. The special effects, for the time, are great. What's really impressive is how well the film maintains an atmosphere of mystery around outrageous comedy. Hats off to (Director) Charles Barton and the crew for that.
Comin' Round the Mountain ****
This one is a riot from the pair's first appearance to the end of the film when they finally get to the treasure. The sequence with the love potion is hysterical. That "clean country air" Lou got courtesy of the skunk in his suitcase was a howler. A lot of people writing about this movie complained about Dorothy Shay and her singing. I thought she was great. For the most her numbers ran with the flow of the story and helped keep the mood bright.
Lost in Alaska ***
Leave it to Lou to get into trouble with a piece of Whale meat. This film is uneven mostly because some of the gags are repeated too often. The boomerang episodes are one example; Lou's sinking for the third time is another. On the plus side there are times when the humour is right off the wall. Lou's attempt to save Tom Ewell is one. His encounter with the Alaskan Crabs is a riot. The incident with the Eskimo Medicine man is a replay of a scene with the Monster from the boys' meeting with Frankenstein but it's just as fresh as the first time. It's easy to imagine that the guy playing the witch doctor had just as much trouble getting through this scene as Glenn Strange did the first time around.
Abbott and Costello go to Mars **
The premise for this one is completely preposterous. A spaceship couldn't be built by a private company without government knowledge of it. The 1950's special effects don't stand up at all. The sequences they're used for are lame. It's far from being all bad though. Bud and Lou bring hilarity to the unbelievable. The Mardi Gras scenes and the interstellar lie detectors are pure fun. The sentiment the Venusian's Queen feels for Lou is something we all identify with. Weak outing or not the boys' charm is still there.