Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS

Mari Blanchard and Lou Costello
















ABBOTT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS (1953). Director: Charles Lamont.

"He looks worse standing up than he does lying down" -- Allura, referring to Lou

Orville (Lou Costello), a handyman at an orphanage, winds up at a missile base and is mistaken for a professor of aeronautical science, although janitor Lester (Bud Abbott) isn't fooled. The bumbling pair look around Dr. Wilson's (Robert Paige) rocket ship and accidentally take off, landing near New Orleans during Mardi Gras where they think the celebrants are Martians. Two ex-cons rob a bank and stowaway on the ship, hoping Orville and Lester, whom they think are Martians, will take them back to their planet and away from the law. This time the rocket ship winds up on Venus, where the man-hating Queen Allura (Mari Blanchard of Twice-Told Tales) makes Orville her king to please her man-hungry subjects. There's a giant dog, but otherwise a dearth of special effects, except for when the rocket is flying through the Lincoln Tunnel and making the Statue of Liberty dodge and duck. One Venusian vehicle seems to have been borrowed from Forbidden Planet but that movie was made three years later! After the queen puts a curse on Lou, who dares to be attracted to other women, his kiss turns one young lovely into a wrinkled old crone! Martha Hyer is Dr. Wilson's secretary and girlfriend, Jean Willes is one of the queen's entourage, and while Anita Ekberg of Screaming Mimi should certainly stand out even in a crowd of moonlighting beauty queens, her presence in the picture as a guard isn't immediately evident. Abbott and Costello Go to Mars may come off like a spoof of such space-babe movies as Queen of Outer Space, which also takes place on Venus, but it actually pre-dates all of them [the first, Cat-Women of the Moon, was released the same year]. Were A & C starting a trend instead of following one, as they did with Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein? Whatever the case, this is not in the league of that movie, but it does have its amusing moments and the cast has fun. There's too much of those ex-cons, however, and the boys never do wind up on Mars.

Verdict: Amiable nonsense. **1/2.

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