Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man
Cast & Crew
Bud Alexander and his bumbling pal, Lou Francis, graduate from Dugan's Detective School and are assigned to the McQuilan Detective Agency. On their first night at work, champion boxer Tommy Nelson, who is wanted for the murder of his manager, O'Hara, rushes in and hires Bud and Lou to clear him of the charges. They follow him to the home of his girl friend, Helen Gray, whose uncle, Dr. Philip Gray, demonstrates a new invisibility serum on a guinea pig, which disappears before their eyes. Although Tommy wants an injection right away so he can elude the police, Phil explains that the serum turned its inventor into a raving, homicidal maniac, and that since he has no antidote, it is not yet safe for humans. Just then, however, the police arrive, and Tommy takes the serum as soon as Phil's back is turned and disappears in front of Lou. The police question Lou about Tommy's location, but when he tells them Tommy is invisible, they bring him to a psychiatrist to be hypnotized. Soon, Lou unwittingly hypnotizes the doctor and his entire staff, and is kicked out of the building. The next day, Bud, Lou and an invisible Tommy visit his old gym, where he points out his last opponent, Rocky Hanlon, and Rocky's financier, gangster Morgan. He explains that Morgan and O'Hara made a deal that Tommy would take a dive in his fight with Rocky, but when Tommy knocked Rocky out, Morgan killed O'Hara and framed Tommy. Tommy outlines his plan: Bud will pretend to manage Lou, a champion fighter, and Lou will agree to throw a fight with Rocky. When Lou then reneges, Tommy explains, and Morgan attempts to murder Bud, they can turn the mobster into the police. With Tommy doing the actual punching, Lou puts on a boxing exhibition and is promptly nicknamed "Louie the Looper." Morgan challenges him to fight Rocky, and though Lou is terrified at the prospect, Tommy promises he will be in the ring with him the whole time. At dinner that night, Morgan's moll, Boots Marsden, flirts with Lou, and he visits her hotel room later that evening with a recorder hidden in a huge bouquet of flowers. Lou manages to tape her encouraging him to throw the fight, but after he slips the recording into his pants, he immediately sits on it and breaks it. Meanwhile, the still invisible Tommy gets drunk in the restaurant downstairs and raves that he is all-powerful and will destroy anyone who gets in his way. Tommy provokes a fight with a stranger, and when the other man swings at Lou, Tommy is knocked out. Bud and Lou then attract attention when they drag him to Helen's home. There, Phil secretly straps Tommy down and holds him prisoner. Upon waking, Tommy accuses Phil of wanting only to protect his own professional reputation. Before the fight the next day, Bud and Lou wait nervously for Tommy to arrive. At the last minute, the boxer manages to escape his bonds and enter the ring, where he helps Lou pummel Rocky. When Tommy leaves the ring to trail Morgan, Rocky recovers and beats up Lou. Tommy jumps back into the ring and knocks Rocky out, but by the time Phil arrives at the fight with the invisibility antidote, no one can find him. Morgan plants one of his goons dressed as a policeman outside Lou's dressing room and then hides inside. While the henchman keeps the police out of the room, Morgan attacks Bud and Lou. Just then, Tommy arrives and grabs Morgan long enough for Lou to get the gangster's gun. Lou accidentally shoots the heating unit, and the escaping steam exposes Tommy's ghostly outline, allowing Morgan to stab him in the chest. As Tommy collapses, the police break down the door and arrest Morgan. Later, at the hospital, Tommy survives thanks to a blood transfusion from Lou. Lou receives a small amount of Tommy's blood, however, and turns invisible just long enough to wreak havoc by kissing all the nurses on the ward.
George J. Lewis
Walter F. Appler
Leslie I. Carey
Russell A. Gausman
David S. Horsley
Frederic I. Rinaldo
Joan St. Oegger
Hugh Wedlock Jr.
Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man
Originally, Abbott and Costello had no part in the script. In 1948, Hugh Wedlock and Howard Snyder wrote a fifth sequel to Universal's The Invisible Man (1933) called The Invisible Man Strikes Back. Meanwhile Robert Arthur, producer of the Abbott and Costello comedies at Universal since Buck Privates Come Home (1947), was looking for another profitable pairing of the comic duo with more of Universal's monster squad after Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) and Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949). Having recently adapted Wedlock and Snyder's story "Easy Does It" for the latter movie, Arthur appropriated this script for A&C as well.
Before production could begin, another screenwriting team, Russell Rouse and Clarence Green wrote an original screenplay called Abbott and Costello Meet The Invisible Man. Wedlock and Snyder's screenplay was out, and Rouse and Green's was in after a further re-write by Robert Lees and Fred Rinaldo who had penned The Invisible Woman (1940). What put this script over was its central gag: Costello in a boxing ring fighting a champ while getting assistance from an invisible boxer.
Lou Costello as a prizefighter was less of a stretch than fans would imagine. Before he joined the duo, Costello boxed as an amateur under the pseudonym Lou King. In twelve times in the ring he won eleven and had one draw. Unfortunately, instead of being discovered by a manager, he was discovered by his father who forbade him from returning to the ring. Boxing is not the only personal touch in the film. Bud and Lou's names in this movie are Bud Alexander and Lou Francis, their real first and middle names.
Production went smoothly with costs held down by careful script writing allowing the new material to match shots from previous Invisible Man adventures. For instance, the test of the invisibility serum on a guinea pig is taken straight from The Invisible Man Returns (1940). The best holdover, however, comes when a scientist describes how the scientist who originally developed the serum went mad after using it and points to a picture of Claude Rains on the wall. Rains was the almost completely unseen actor who played the original The Invisible Man.
Reports from cast and crew members about Abbott and Costello said they had difficulty "Meet"-ing anyone. According to co-star Arthur Franz (in Abbott and Costello in Hollywood by Bob Furmanek and Ron Palumbo), director Charles Lamont had a hard time getting them on the set: "...they would lock themselves in their trailer to play gin rummy, and they would not come out because one or the other was always in the hole. One of the funniest lines came out of those daily conflicts. Charlie would beat on the door to get them to come out, and Lou would scream back, 'Hey - you rehearse it too much it loses all spontanuity!' He was taking two words, spontaneity and continuity, and running them both together. It was a Costello legend." As for their unrelenting gin-rummy games, that either of them had money with which to gamble is a surprise. Before this movie, a departing crooked business manager had left the comedians with a whopping I.R.S. tax bill that the government was dead set on milking out of the duo, despite all the work they had done during World War II raising millions of dollars in war bonds. After the shooting ended, Bud and Lou held a wrap party where they presented their earnings to the taxman as that year's payment.
Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man opened March 19, 1951 at a benefit for Wounded Veterans of the Korean War and went on to be one of the team's biggest hits during the 1950's. Captain Kidd, Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde and The Mummy were waiting in the wings for their turn.
Director: Charles Lamont
Producer: Howard Christie
Writers: John Grant, Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo
Cinematographer: George Robinson
Editor: Virgil Vogel
Art directors: Bernard Herzbrun, Richard Riedel
Cast: Bud Abbott (Bud Alexander), Lou Costello (Lou Francis), Nancy Guild (Helen Gray), Arthur Franz (Tommy Nelson), Adele Jergens (Boots Marsden), Sheldon Leonard (Morgan).
BW-82 min. Closed Captioning.
by Brian Cady
Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man
This was originally intended to be a straight film in the Invisible Man series. After the huge grosses from _Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)_ , the script was rewritten to make it another thrill comedy with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.
During the scene in which the inventor of the invisibility serum is mentioned, the characters turn to a photograph of Claude Rains, the first and most famous actor to portray "The Invisible Man." All proceeds from the film's April 1951 Los Angeles premiere benefitted the Los Angeles Examiner's Fund for Wounded Veterans of the Korean War. The Invisible Man character appeared in numerous Universal films, including the 1933 picture The Invisible Man (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40) and the 1942 film Invisible Agent (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). For additional information on the series, consult the Series Index.