Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops


1h 19m 1955

Brief Synopsis

Harry and Willie buy the Edison Movie Studio in the year 1912 from Joseph Gorman, a confidence man. They follow Gorman to Hollywood where, as stunt men, they find him directing movies as Sergei Trumanoff and stealing the studio payroll.

Film Details

Also Known As
Abbott and Costello in the Stunt Men
Release Date
Feb 1955
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 2 Feb 1955
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.00 : 1

Synopsis

In the early 1920s, after being thrown out of a screening of the silent movie Uncle Tom's Cabin for being too emotionally involved in the story, bumbler Willie Piper is convinced by his pal, Harry Pierce, to invest his aunt's $5000 in a motion picture studio. They immediately sign away the money to Joseph Gorman, a con man who claims to be president of Phenomenal Pictures and "sells" them the closed Edison studio in New Jersey. After Harry and Willie leave, Gorman informs his girl friend, aspiring actress Leota Van Cleet, that he will now disguise himself as European director Sergei Toumanoff and set off for Hollywood in order to strike it rich. Soon after, Harry and Willie discover that they have been swindled and, on a tip from a detective, decide to follow Gorman to Los Angeles in order to retrieve their money. After Willie gets his foot stuck in the railroad tracks and barely misses being hit by a train, he pretends to faint, forcing Harry to carry him. As they struggle to make their way to California, Gorman is pulled from his train by the police. At first Gorman fears he has been caught, then discovers that producer Rudolph Snavely has stopped him in order to offer him an exclusive contract, believing him to be Toumanoff. Later, Harry and Willie hop off a train in New York, thinking they are in California, and when they realize their mistake and try to re-board, the conductor throws them off the train and into a hobo camp. There, the friends steal the tramps' food and fall asleep, waking to discover that the hoboes have taken their money and switched clothes with them. Walking along the tracks, they are loaned money by an old-timer driving a wagon, and after Willie finds a pair of fixed dice in his pocket, he converts the cash into more money and new clothes. The pair now easily reaches Los Angeles, where they see a wagon and, hoping to pay back the old man, hop on, not realizing that they have entered a film set. The wagon is immediately chased by wild Indians and the driver jumps off, leaving a terrified Willie to take the reins. The film's director is Gorman, posing as Toumanoff, and although he is furious that his shot was ruined, Snavely is also on the set and, having witnessed Willie's frantic ride, declares him the greatest stunt man in Hollywood. As he offers Willie a job, Gorman and Leota recognize Harry and Willie, and plot to have them killed while performing dangerous stunts. Harry and Willie then reveal to Snavely that they are searching for Gorman, and the producer promises to aid their investigation. On the way back to their dressing room, the pair sees producer Mack Sennett, and their groveling admiration earns them a pie in the face. Soon after, Willie doubles for Leota in an airplane stunt, and Gorman secretly hires a henchman, Hinds, to place live ammunition in the guns used in the scene. Hinds then removes the blocks from the airplane before the real pilot can join them, and Harry is forced to fly the plane. Gorman captures all of Willie's panicked in-air antics, and while screening the hilarious dailies that night, Snavely declares Harry and Willie to be the studio's new comedy-team sensation. He also informs Gorman that he has discerned the con man's true identity, but that he will drop all charges in return for directing all the "Pierce and Piper" movies and donating his salary to the men he has swindled. Forced to accept, Gorman realizes that, although he had earlier arranged with Hinds for Harry and Willie to be run over by a car, the pair now represents his livelihood, and so must be rescued. Gorman runs into the street just in time to see the hired car run right over his new stars, and not realizing that they are unharmed, faints. Harry and Willie finally recognize Gorman, and unaware of Snavely's actions, plot to gain evidence of his treachery. To that end, Harry dresses as a thief and Willie as a policeman, and that night sneak into the director's house. Unfortunately, a real thief and policeman are already there, and the four men cause a commotion chasing one another around the house. Later, Hinds blackmails Gorman into stealing the money Snavely is saving for the next film. Gorman is robbing the studio safe when Harry and Willie walk in, dressed in police costumes. After Gorman, along with Leota, escapes in Snavely's car, Harry and Willie mistake the comedy team the Keystone Kops for real policemen and speed off with them, while Snavely calls the authorities. A madcap chase to the airfield, where Gorman has a plane waiting, ensues, and although Harry and Willie finally grab Gorman, they quickly discover that their Kops cannot arrest him. Just then, Snavely shows up with the police, who arrest Gorman, Leota and Hinds. The producer commends Harry and Willie, but when Willie proudly shows off the money he has rescued, it flies into the air and is blown away.

Film Details

Also Known As
Abbott and Costello in the Stunt Men
Release Date
Feb 1955
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 2 Feb 1955
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.00 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

seminal silent-picture director directs a pie-throwing sequence.

Three members of the original Keystone Cops of silent films worked on the picture: 'Mann, Hank' , Herold Goodwin, and Heinie Conklin.

The chase at the end was sold as a Super 8mm film under the title "Have Badge, Will Chase."

When Willie (Lou) goes to the theatre, the pretty lady in the box office is actually Lou's real life daughter Carole. She was made up to look much older than here real age.

Notes

The working title of this film was Abbott and Costello in the Stunt Men. According to a November 1954 Daily Variety news item, Universal was at first concerned that the Keystone Kops were no longer widely recognized, but upon reevaluation, decided to use their name in the film's title. A June 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that, at the time, the studio had so many pictures in production that it was required to borrow cameraman Reggie Lanning from Republic to make Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops.
       In the beginning of the film, scenes from Universal's 1928 film Uncle Tom's Cabin are shown (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30). Several of the original "Keystone Kops," including Heinie Conklin and Hank Mann, appeared in the film. A June 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item states that stunt men Louie Tomei, Sailor Vincent, Eddie Parker, Teddy Mangean, Jack Shutta, Dick Crockett and Stubby Kreuger were also to play Keystone Kops in the film, but their appearance has not been confirmed. Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops marked the last screen appearance of silent film pioneer and founder of Keystone studios, home of the Kops, producer Mack Sennett (1880-1960).

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States on Video June 29, 1994

Released in United States Winter February 1955

Released in United States Winter February 1955

Released in United States on Video June 29, 1994