Rewatching the Universal Monsters! It’s a return to comedy land with Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man.
Here’s what happens: Abbott and Costello play private detectives who run into a Tommy Nelson boxer turned fugitive, framed for the murder of his manager. Tommy takes the invisibility serum to hide out from the cops, and he and the bumbling PIs enact a plan to find the real killer.
Monster! This Invisible Man isn’t all that monstrous, but the movie points out that the invisibility serum originates from Joe Griffin. A photo of him is shown, and it’s Claude Rains from the original Invisible Man. Therefore, this is in continuity, as the serum keeps getting passed around from Griffin to the other.
Also a monster! The real villains are mobsters, led by Morgan. The real show-offy villain role, however, is Boots Marsden, a sexy seductress whom Bud tries to woo to get information from. I wanted her to be revealed as the big bad at the end, but no.
Bud and Lou: The movie leans into our heroes being detectives by having Lou wear a Sherlock Holmes deerstalker cap and horse around with a magnifying glass. We quickly leave that behind for some boxing action. Most of the movie is Lou pretending to be a boxer while the Invisible Man actually throws the punches, leading to much slapstick.
Hapless humans: The emotional core of the story – such as it is – comes from the Invisible Man’s fiancé, who is on hand throughout to worry about him. We also get some bumbling cops and a befuddled psychiatrist, for some additional straight men for Lou to mess around with.
Thrills: The only horror/thriller scene is the finale, when Morgan pulls a gun and tries to sort out where in the room the Invisible Man is, with Bud and Lou caught in the middle.
Laughs: Again, while the slapstick is the big selling point, it’s the wordplay and the one-liners that are the biggest laughs. I’m assuming the psychiatrist scenes originated from Abbott and Costello’s standup/radio days.
What’s all this, then? A rival boxer is named Rocky. Rocky? Seriously?
Thoughts on this viewing: A low-substance movie, but not without its charms. It lacks the monster-movie fun of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, but taken on its own it’s an amusing enough crime spoof.
Next: Creature feature.
Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.