“She? No, Lou. This mummy is a he. What’s wrong with that? Some mummies are men, some mummies are women.”
“Such a strange country.”
The mummy’s curse has befallen our final entry in the Abbott and Costello monster-meet films. What hobbles out to us isn’t a total disaster, but it’s certainly the lesser of the duo’s three movies we’ve discussed due to a lack of good jokes and fresh material.
Abbott and Costello are playing…um…Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, two Americans stranded in Cairo for some reason. They get wrapped up in a murder plot involving Dr. Gustav Zoomer (Kurt Katch) and a secret Egyptian organization. Zoomer has discovered the mummy Klaris (played by Eddie Parker, Chaney’s double in the other Mummy films) and a sacred medallion that will show the way to Princess Ara’s treasure.
It is the secret organization’s long-held duty to keep Klaris alive and protect the treasure. They kill Dr. Zoomer. Bud and Lou stumble upon the body and get framed for the murder. While trying to clear their names, they run across some crooks led by Madame Rontru (Marie Windsor), who want to steal the treasure for themselves. All the groups are after Abbott and Costello when they find out the two have obtained the medallion. If the duo end up buried under the sand, well, it won’t upset the villains any.
Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955), was the last of 28 films Bud and Lou made at Universal. It was also the second to last film they would make as a team. You can tell the act is tired by this point.
There are some new gags here, but a lot of them are offshoots or outright copies of bits we’ve already seen in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951), and even that Colgate Comedy Hour (1950-1955) sketch with the Gill-Man. Not only that, but they were also done better in those other instances.
One bit sees the two performing an echo of their Who’s on First skit with two shovels and a pick. Lou doesn’t understand that Bud’s pick isn’t the pick. It’s not like this is the first time the two have done bits that are basically redressed versions of Who’s on First, but this is so forced and not at all as clever as the Baseball skit.
There are a few new gags. At one point, Bud and Lou are eating burgers at a restaurant and they find out that the one who holds the medallion is destined for death. So they each try to shove the ancient artifact on the other. They slip it into the other’s pocket, Lou places it on a waiter’s plate only for it to be given back to him, and both keep slipping it in the others burger, Lou eventually eating it. This and other gags go on too long and don’t have enough creativity to them to make them anything more than slightly amusing at best.
The other third title character is…meh. The Mummy isn’t really featured until the last 20 minutes. He does little more than run around growling at our two bumbling heroes. His costume looks like a jumpsuit designed to look like mummy wrappings, and it isn’t convincing. Even the Mummy B-Movies with Lon Chaney, Jr. bothered to wrap the title monster up in actual bandages.
The other villains aren’t anything great, but they at least have enough personality and charisma to keep the movie interesting. That’s a marked improvement over the Chaney Mummy movies, which had antagonists about as captivating as a dull grey wall.
Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy is a by the numbers Bud and Lou film. There’s some fun to be had, but there’s no big incentive to watch this over Meet Frankenstein or Meet the Invisible Man.