Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man


Tommy Nelson is a boxer with character and a sense of ethics.  When he’s approached by the mob to throw a fight, he refuses and defeats his opponent.  This act of defiance is not appreciated by the mob.  They kill Tommy’s manager and frame him for the murder.  On the lam, he needs help and he needs it fast to clear his name.

Bud and Lou are recent graduates from a detective school.  Their first night on the job, Tommy slinks into the agency and wants to hire them.  With a flash of money, they accompany him to the home of his fiancée, Helen, as she and her uncle are the only ones, he thinks, can help him.

Once he finds out there’s a reward for Tommy’s capture, Bud wants to turn him in.  The perfect time and place for a trap is at Helen’s.  He has Lou to keep an eye on Tommy while he contacts the police.  A big hiccup in this plan is that Tommy is determined to bring the real killers to justice.  Hhe won’t go so easily, especially being truly innocent.  Helen’s uncle, a scientist, is in possession of an invisibility serum.  Tommy swipes it and injects himself as the police arrive leaving them to find his pile of clothes and a very frightened Lou.

Even though Tommy has explained the circumstances of his manager’s death, Bud doesn’t believe him and still wants to turn him in for the reward.  It takes a little persuasion on the boxer’s behalf to convince him he’s telling the truth– unseeing, in this case, is believing.  Lou believes, if mainly out of fear.

Bud and Lou pose, respectively, as a manager and his boxer to infiltrate the pugilist scene.  With Tommy’s help, they are able to fool everyone into thinking that Lou is a world class boxer– he’s so fast, they can’t even see his hands move when he hits.

The concept of invisibility lends itself to comedy quite naturally.  The Invisible Woman, while watchable and occasionally generating a chuckle, couldn’t quite pull off the punchlines.  They fell flat.  Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man lands the majority of its jokes.  

There are the requisite floating cigarettes and cars which appear to be driving by themselves, but the movie makes good on what it attempts.  When the invisible Tommy drives the car, we get the baffled cop but we also get the topper of Tommy commenting how sometimes he just wants to drive into oncoming traffic while Bud and Lou look on helpless and hapless from the back seat.  The main difference between this movie and The Invisible Woman is that Bud and Lou never let the special effects steal the show.  They are the stars, not the gimmick.

Much like when the boys met Frankenstein, the legendary duo do what they do best.  If you’ve seen a blue million of their films as I have, it’s nothing new, but they still manage to be entertaining.

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