Director: Charles Lamont
Writer: John Grant
Cast: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Marie Windsor, Michael Ansara, Dan Seymour, Richard Deacon, Kurt Katch, Richard Karlan, Mel Welles, George Khoury, Edwin Parker, The Mazzone-Abbott Dancers, Chandra Kaly and His Dancers, and Peggy King
Composer: Joseph Gershenson
Release Date: 6/23/1955
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
While stranded in Cairo, Egypt, archaeologists Pete Patterson (Bud Abbott) and Freddie Franklin (Lou Costello) stumble upon a cursed medallion linked to the treasure of Princess Ara. With Semu (Richard Deacon)—leader of the followers of Klaris (Edwin Parker)—and would-be thief Madame Rontru (Marie Windsor) hot on their trail, Pete and Freddie attempt to rid themselves of the medallion; but end up encountering a living mummy in the process.
The final Abbott and Costello offering produced by Universal Studios, this installment deviates from the formulaic structure employed by the 1940s series of mummy films. Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy thus improves upon the Kharis (or “Klaris” as the Mummy is referred to in John Grant’s screenplay) legend, though audiences with high expectations may nevertheless be disappointed by the eponymous pair of comedians and the lackadaisical efforts therefrom.
Similar to the “Who’s on First?” sketch, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy is most amusing when emphasizing wordplay over slapstick. Notably, a mix-up involving shovels (Abbott “picks” a shovel instead of a pick, thereby confusing his moronic partner) demonstrates that the famous duo could, on rare occasions, maintain a clever approach to humor even after waning in popularity. Also entertaining are the difficulties that Abbott faces while explaining the concept of a male mummy to Costello, whose oblivious nature enhances the delivery of an otherwise obvious joke.
Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy contains an abundance of quality material; however, a repetitious and downright stale execution prevents this outing from earning a place among related classics within the horror/comedy crossover genre. While the accidental snake charming gag might, for instance, have been worth a chuckle or two if played correctly, the majority of viewers will likely groan with boredom by the third time a rubber snake creeps over Costello’s shoulder and elicits a comical but overly exaggerated reaction from the unwitting protagonist. Additionally superfluous, a finale featuring three mummies (the real one being Klaris and the other two, Bud Abbott and Michael Ansara sporting imitative bandages) more closely resembles a drawn-out Scooby Doo chase sequence than the superior parallel scene from Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (that being said, Costello’s game of whack-a-mummy makes excellent use of the comedic device outlined above).
As suggested by the opening narration, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy effectively challenges the notion that man’s best friend is his “mummy.”
A moderately humorous adventure tale, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy bids a goofy farewell to three of Universal Studios’ iconic screen legends. Unfortunately, this production often seems like an overlong episode of The Abbott and Costello Show and may therefore alienate all but the most enthusiastic of fans.
Overall Quality: 5/10
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