Tuesday 1 May 2012

Abbott & Costello Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff (1949)

Compared to the high quality of the previous outings, this is another lesser Abbott & Costello movie (and easily one of the weakest movies that they starred in under the direction of the dependable Charles Barton) but, as I have said about a few of their other movies, it's still a fun viewing and worth watching if you're a fan of the duo.

Bud Abbott plays Casey Edwards, a hotel detective who ends up with a dead body in his hotel and a pretty decent amount of suspects (including, of course, Boris Karloff). Lou Costello is Freddie Phillips, the incompetent bellboy who ends up being the main suspect as pieces of evidence, and more bodies, start piling up around him.

While this doesn't have many of the really great routines that A & C were famous for it does have a few very good moments scattered here and there. One extended sequence involving some corpses that our leads don't want discovered in their vicinity is particularly enjoyable, mixing some good physical work with a number of fun verbal gags.

The script by Hugh Wedlock Jr, Howard Snyder and John Grant is okay but it's a shame that the whole thing couldn't have been given a bit more care around the important laughs. It's true that many A & C movies feel like little more than pantomimes put onscreen but this film seems to have been made without anyone involved remembering that it should also hang together as a whole movie. As such, it feels like it slightly outstays its welcome even at the brisk 84 minutes it runs for and there's very little of interest in the moments that focus on the murder mystery element of the film.

The direction is okay but the material is hampered by an instantly forgettable cast. Oh, our leads do their usual good work and Boris Karloff is enjoyable enough in the few scenes that he has but nobody else stands out. James Flavin, Lenore Aubert, Gar Moore, Donna Martell, Alan Mowbray, Mikel Conrad and others have their time onscreen but, while I won't exaggerate and say that I remember none of them, not a one of them makes any lasting impression.

Oh, and one last thing. Don't let the title mislead you.



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