Director: Charles Lamont
Writers: Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo, and John Grant
Cast: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Nancy Guild, Arthur Franz, Adele Jergens, Sheldon Leonard, William Frawley, Gavin Muir, Sam Balter, and John Day
Composer: Joseph Gershenson
Release Date: 3/7/1951
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
When framed for murder, boxer Tommy Nelson (Arthur Franz) injects himself with the invisibility formula of John Griffin. While hiding from the police, Tommy seeks assistance from private detectives Bud Alexander (Bud Abbott) and Lou Francis (Lou Costello)—both of whom demonstrate a willingness to clear Tommy’s name. Predictably, a complication arises when Lou—a short, stout, and poorly coordinated man—must agree to box champion Rocky Hanlon (John Day) so that a trap can be set for Morgan (Sheldon Leonard), a vicious gangster.
A lighthearted sequel to the 1933 masterpiece starring Claude Rains, Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man will appeal to Universal Monster buffs and comedy enthusiasts alike. The repetitious nature of many jokes may, however, grow somewhat tiresome for all but the most tolerant of viewers.
After consuming the invisibility potion, Tommy Nelson fails to maintain his sanity on occasion—a plot device lifted from the original version of The Invisible Man and one that, in this film, allows for a variety of amusing situations as Bud and Lou attempt to cover up the antics of their reflectively challenged companion. Especially worth noting is a comedic dinner sequence, wherein Bud recites William Shakespeare in order to disguise Tommy’s megalomaniacal ravings from fellow restaurant patrons.
Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man employs a number of humorous scenarios involving H. G. Wells’ inspirational premise and the two bumbling comedians after whom this feature is entitled. That being said, there are times when certain gags (e.g. Lou’s ostensible ability to beat up heavyweight boxing champions without even touching them) would have delivered a more powerful impact (no pun intended) if condensed significantly. The final boxing match in particular takes an inordinate amount of time to resolve, thereby undermining the intentionally ridiculous concept of Lou defeating a physically superior opponent.
Similar to The Invisible Man Returns and its predecessor, James Whale’s The Invisible Man, Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man offers an insightful commentary on the fact that even honorable men are capable of committing vile (or mischievous, in Tommy’s case) deeds when unrestrained from the laws and customs by which ordinary people must live.
Though less memorable than Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man bids an entertaining farewell to one of the most iconic mad scientist franchises in cinematic history. Fans of Whale’s aforementioned classic will therefore enjoy the clean, albeit delightfully kooky, shenanigans contained in this film.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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