Abbott And Costello Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff (1949)
Lost Caverns Hotel bellhop Freddie Phillips is suspected of murder. Swami Talpur tries to hypnotize Freddie into confessing, but Freddie is too stupid for the plot to work. Inspector Wellman uses Freddie to get the killer (and it isn't the Swami).
Bud Abbott ... Casey Edwards
Lou Costello ... Freddie Phillips
Boris Karloff ... Swami Talpur
Lénore Aubert ... Angela Gordon (as Lenore Aubert)
Gar Moore ... Jeff Wilson
Donna Martell ... Betty Crandall
Alan Mowbray ... Melton
James Flavin ... Insp. Wellman
Roland Winters ... T. Hanley Brooks
Nicholas Joy ... Amos Strickland
Mikel Conrad ... Sgt. Stone
Morgan Farley ... Gregory Milford
We have here the excellent slapstick performances of straight man Bud Abbott and comic genius Lou Costello,combined with the always menacing Boris Karloff,though here he is much more lighthearted of course.Freddy Phillips(Costello)is suspected of murder.Of course we all know he didn't do it,and the hilarious journey to the real killer begins from there. While this is not Abbott and Costello's greatest effort,it is certainly good enough,and it is a great combination of murder mystery and comedy. Today's comedy writers and performers could learn a lot from A and C, as well as many others from their era.If you want to know what real comedy is all about,the films of Abbott and Costello are the way to go. Great stuff.
Much of Abbott and Costello's late 40s/early 50s output put them in parodies of various film genres--this one is a parody of murder mysteries. I saw this as a child and liked it, although I was let down that Boris Karloff had such an insignificant role. Now that it's out on DVD as part of the third A&C boxset, I'm seeing it again, and I still think it's quite funny. There are many well-paced comic set-ups and the boys don't look bored as they do in some of their later vehicles. No great analysis is needed for a film like this--it's just classic comedy and has held up very well.
There is a comment about the title of this addition to the Abbott & Costello films that is a little unfair - but only a little. Entitled ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET THE KILLER, BORIS KARLOFF, some purists sniff that as Karloff is not the killer in the film, the title is as misleading as the later ABBOTT & COSTELLO GO TO MARS (wherein they actually go to Venus). But the difference is that Karloff is a killer. Not only does he attempt to hypnotize Lou into committing suicide (which would enable the police to drop an investigation at a hotel where Karloff is stuck in), but he is also a former homicide case defendant who was acquitted thanks to his lawyer Amos Strickland (Nicholas Joy). No, Karloff is not the murderer of Joy, but he is a suspected murderer (the police feel that Karloff's acquittal was due to his lawyer, not to his not being the murderer). So the title is actually not a cheat.
Like WHO DONE IT? it is a murder mystery comedy, but here the suspicion against Lou (an incompetent bellhop) is more realistic than in the earlier film. Lou and Bud work at a resort hotel. Bud is the house detective. Lou is involved in an incident where he bungles badly while handling the luggage of lawyer Joy. The latter complains vociferously to the hotel manager (Alan Mowbray), who fires Costello. Lou, realizing what has caused his dismissal, actually makes a threatening statement to Joy. So when the latter is murdered, Lou is the leading suspect.
But it seems that Joy was on the verge of writing his memoirs, in which he might set the record straight about those acquittals he won. This would not be what Karloff, Roland Winters, and a few others would like - they are beginning to live down their murder trials. All of them happen to be at the resort too, so they are also suspects.
The film has some nice set pieces in it, mostly handled adroitly by Costello - such as a drag sequence where he attracts an admirer, and has to play cards with a corpse. He also, towards the conclusion, gives Abbott an unexpected scare suggesting Bud is the killer. But my two favorite pieces are when Karloff tries to hypnotize Lou, and almost gets knifed in the process, and when Lou discovers the benefits of being the chief suspect - being under house arrest in a luxury hotel has unexpected benefits through room service. After all, the state pays the bill!
This was originally intended as a vehicle for 'Bob Hope' . After the huge success of Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), Universal-International wanted another thrill comedy with Bud Abbott and 'Lou Costello' so the script was rewritten for them. Oddly enough, the role played by Boris Karloff was originally written for a woman.