Abbott & Costello: The Complete Universal Collection – 80th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Dec 20, 2019
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Abbott & Costello: The Complete Universal Collection – 80th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Director

Various

Release Date(s)

1940-1955 (November 19, 2019)

Studio(s)

Universal Pictures (Shout! Factory/Shout Select)
  • Film/Program Grade: See Below
  • Video Grade: See Below
  • Audio Grade: See Below
  • Extras Grade: A-
  • Overall Grade: B+

Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Collection – 80th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

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Review

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were one of many great comedy acts to come out of the burlesque and vaudeville era whose appeal reached far beyond the confines of the theatre. Joining forces in 1935 and remaining a duo until 1957, they made numerous radio and TV appearances early on, but they followed with a slew of many successful comedy films, most of them at Universal Pictures (as well as a few at MGM, United Artists, Eagle-Lion, and Warner Bros). From their famous Who’s on First routine to Costello’s utterances of being a “baaaad boy,” they crossed into the movie realm with immediate success, making 28 entries for Universal in all. All of these are gathered together on Blu-ray for the first time in the boxed set Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection – 80th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition.

Universal previously released Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection on DVD, but now Shout Select has picked up the rights to release the contents of that set, right down to the look of the packaging and its contents, plus a few new things. It’s worth noting that Buck Privates, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man, and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy have all had their own previous Blu-ray releases, but 24 of these films are debuting on the format, which is astounding.

(DISC ONE)
ONE NIGHT IN THE TROPICS (1940)
BUCK PRIVATES (1941)

In their first film outing, One Night in Tropics, the pair didn’t receive star billing, but quickly broke out soon thereafter.

After his friend Steve (Robert Cummings) falls in love with a woman named Cynthia (Nancy Kelly)—who is not exactly sure about him after an unfriendly encounter with her superstitious Aunt Kitty (Mary Boland)—Jim (Alan Jones) takes out “love” insurance on the couple. However, Steve’s ex-girlfriend Mickey (Peggy Moran) isn’t willing to let Steve go that easily. The policy is enforced by nightclub owner Roscoe (William Frawley) and his two goons (Abbott and Costello). Hilarity ensues as Jim and his goons try their level best to keep Mickey at bay.

One Night in the Tropics is presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio and features an older transfer with mild crush, heavy grain, and scratches, but a stable presentation overall. The audio (English 2.0 Dolby Digital) is narrow with leftover hiss, but features clean dialogue and score with good balance. Extras include the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 48 production stills, promotional photos, posters, and lobby cards; and 4 pages of production notes.

In Buck Privates, Abbott and Costello (Slicker and Herbie) accidentally enlist in the Army, finding trouble with their unsympathetic drill sergeant (Nat Pendleton). The main story involves the pampered and wealthy Randolph (Lee Bowman) who is forced into the army by his father. He eyes for the affections of Judy (Jane Frazee), but is thwarted by her more down-to-earth suitor, as well as Randolph’s former valet, Bob (Alan Curtis). Also appearing is Three Stooges alum Shemp Howard and the music of The Andrews Sisters.

Buck Privates is presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio from an older transfer with mild softness and obvious DNR, but is clean and stable throughout. The audio (English 2.0 Dolby Digital) is narrow with occasional thumps but good balance and clear dialogue. Extras include an audio commentary with authors and film historians Ron Palumbo and Bob Furmanek; the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 42 production stills, behind-the-scenes photos, promotional photos, posters, and lobby cards; and 3 pages of production notes.

ONE NIGHT IN THE TROPICS (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B-/B-/B-
BUCK PRIVATES (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B-/C+/C+

(DISC TWO)
IN THE NAVY (1941)
HOLD THAT GHOST (1941)

For In the Navy, the comedic duo head to the high seas. When singing sensation Russ Raymond (Dick Powell) disappears suddenly from the spotlight, all eyes are searching for him. A reporter (Claire Dodd) discovers that he has joined the Navy to get away from stardom, tailing him to get a picture of him for her magazine. Abbott and Costello (Smokey and Pomeroy) are along for the ride as two bumbling sailors, and returning with larger roles are Shemp Howard and The Andrews Sisters.

In the Navy is presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio and features an older transfer with mild softness and obvious DNR, but is clean and stable otherwise. Likewise the audio (English 2.0 DTS-HD) has good balance and clear dialogue without any issues. Extras include the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 59 behind-the-scenes photos, promotional stills, posters, lobby cards, and publicity materials; and 4 pages of production notes.

In Hold That Ghost, the comedy duo (as Chuck and Ferdinand) find themselves accidentally inheriting an old hotel from a dead gangster. Rumored to be both haunted and the secret hiding place of a stash of cash, the two make their way there with a doctor (Richard Carlson), the potential object of his affections (Evelyn Ankers), and a radio actress (Joan Davis) tagging along after being abandoned by their bus driver. Heading into the old hotel, everything from floating candles to mysterious owls to gangsters looking to cash in on the hidden loot will keep them all on their toes.

Hold That Ghost is presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio and features a sharp transfer with age-related wear and tear, but is otherwise stable with good detail. The audio (English 2.0 DTS-HD) is fairly narrow but offers clear dialogue and a good score. Extras include an audio commentary with author and film historian Jeff Miller; the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 69 promotional photos, posters, lobby cards, and publicity materials; and 3 pages of production notes.

IN THE NAVY (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C+/C+/B
HOLD THAT GHOST (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/B/B

(DISC THREE)
KEEP ’EM FLYING (1941)
RIDE ’EM COWBOY (1942)

In Keep ’Em Flying, Abbott and Costello (Blackie and Heathcliff) join the Army Air Corps. Their co-hort Jinx (Dick Foran) tags along, and as a former air show pilot, he has a lot to prove to Linda (Carol Bruce), a USO hostess, and her brother Jimmy (Charles Lang). Meanwhile, Blackie and Heathcliff have their sites set on a pair of USO twins (Martha Raye), but they, including Jinx, will have to prove their mettle in the skies above.

Keep ’Em Flying is presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio and features a sharp transfer with good grain reproduction and healthy grayscale, but also good stability and strong detail. The audio (English 2.0 DTS-HD) is fairly narrow but offers clear dialogue and a good score. Extras include a new audio commentary with author and film historian Scott Allen Nollen; the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 94 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, lobby cards, and publicity materials; and 4 pages of production notes.

The hilarious twosome then saddle up for Ride ’Em Cowboy as Willoughby and Duke, two down-on-their-luck rodeo vendors who make their way to a dude ranch where Bronco Bob (Dick Foran), a best-selling western author, attempts to make something more of himself and prove that he’s more than just a writer, especially to Anne (Anne Gwynne), the object of his affections. Soon, the boys are in hot water with a nearby tribe of Native Americans after accidentally shooting an arrow into their tepee while Bob tries his hand at a rodeo competition.

Ride ’Em Cowboy is presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio and features and older transfer with a multitude of scratches, but appears natural with good grayscale and stability. The audio (English 2.0 DTS-HD) is narrow but features clear dialogue and a good score. Extras include a new audio commentary with author and film historian James L. Neibaur; another new audio commentary with author and film historian Scott Allen Nollen; the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 86 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, and lobby cards; and 3 pages of production notes.

KEEP ’EM FLYING (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C+/B+/B
RIDE ’EM COWBOY (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C-/C+/B

(DISC FOUR)
PARDON MY SARONG (1942)
WHO DONE IT? (1942)

The two return for Pardon My Sarong, in which they (Algy and Wellington) are low grade bus drivers on the run from a detective (William Demarest) after their patron Tommy Layton (Robert Paige) instructs them to go off route. After boarding a yacht with a rival of Tommy’s (Joan Marshall), they make their way to Hawaii where a Dr. Varnoff (Lionell Atwill) is up to no good. Meanwhile, the natives believe that Wellington is a hero of old and that he must marry the beautiful island Princess Luana (Nan Wynn), but will this interfere with Dr. Varnoff’s plans?

Pardon My Sarong is presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio and features a sharp transfer with healthy grain and nice grayscale, but occasional scratches. The audio (English 2.0 DTS-HD) is narrow but dialogue is clear and the score has plenty of life to it. Extras include an animated image gallery featuring 65 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, and lobby cards; and 4 pages of production notes.

In Who Done It?, Bud and Lou (Chick and Mervyn) are soda jerks at a local radio station where the murder of the station’s president (Thomas Gomez) has taken place. The two funnymen impersonate detectives and investigate all who are involved, including the writer Jimmy (Patric Knowles) and the producer (as well as former flame of Jimmy’s) Jane (Louise Allbritton). Two real detectives (William Gargan and William Bendix) show up and are soon after Chick and Mervyn as they attempt to solve the mystery and make a name for themselves.

Who Done It? is presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio and offers much of the same, including healthy grain and nice grayscale, but is much cleaner by comparison. The audio (English 2.0 DTS-HD) is narrow but dialogue is clear and the score has plenty of life to it. Extras an audio commentary with MST3K alum Frank Conniff; the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 79 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, and lobby cards; and 3 pages of production notes.

PARDON MY SARONG (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C/B-/B
WHO DONE IT? (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/B/B

(DISC FIVE)
IT AIN’T HAY (1943)
HIT THE ICE (1943)

In It Ain’t Hay, Grover (Abbott) and Wilbur (Costello) are in a fix after Wilbur accidentally kills a horse by giving it sweets. Wanting to replace the horse for its owner King (Cecil Kellaway) and his daughter Princess (Patsy O’Connor), the two head to the track in an attempt to find one. There they accidentally take the wrong horse, owned by Colonel Brainard (Samuel Hinds). Wanting to avoiding further trouble, they follow King to Saratoga in hopes of switching the horses without being caught.

The transfer for It Ain’t Hay, presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio, is a decent one, though it does feature a little bit of staining and minor instability. Otherwise, there’s plenty of nice detail and good grayscale. The audio (English 2.0 mono DTS-HD) features the usual narrow qualities, but good dialogue, sound effects, and music. Extras include a new audio commentary by author and film historian Scott Allen Nollen; an animated image gallery featuring 46 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, and lobby cards; and 3 pages of production notes.

Flash (Abbott) and Tubby (Costello) return for Hit the Ice as two photographers who are simultaneously fingered for a bank robbery they didn’t commit, but are also believed to be rival gangsters by the those who did rob it. Meanwhile, one of the gangsters (Sheldon Leonard) pretends to be ill to establish an alibi while his doctor (Patric Knowles) and nurse (Elyse Knox) take him to a ski resort for better recovery. Tubby and Flash are in tow, attempting to get the cash back from the gangsters and clear their names while avoiding the police.

Hit the Ice is presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio and features a transfer that’s a tad soft with a bit of crush on the blacks, but is stable and clean otherwise. The audio (English 2.0 mono DTS-HD) is also narrow, but with clear dialogue exchanges and good music reproduction. Extras include a new audio commentary by author and film historian Scott Allen Nollen; the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 55 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, and lobby cards; and 4 pages of production notes.

IT AIN’T HAY (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C/B-/B-
HIT THE ICE (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C+/C+/B-

(DISC SIX)
IN SOCIETY (1944)
HERE COME THE CO-EDS (1945)

In Society sees Abbott (Eddie) and Costello (Albert) as low rate plumbers who make a house call during an upper class costume party held by the wealthy Mr. Van Cleve (Thurston Hall) and his wife (Nella Walker). Their friend and cab driver Elsie (Marion Hutton) drives them there where she is mistaken for a guest by Peter (Kirby Grant). Eddie and Albert go along with Elsie to another party in which she is invited and the laughs ensue when a valuable painting goes missing, Eddie and Albert are blamed for it, and are soon out to clear their names.

The presentation of In Society, presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio, features minor flicker and a few scratches, but is otherwise stable and natural with excellent grayscale. The audio (English 2.0 mono DTS-HD) is flatter than most with little push and obvious hiss, but clear dialogue exchanges. Extras include the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 65 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, and lobby cards; and 3 pages of production notes.

In Here Come the Co-eds, Abbott (Slats) and Costello (Oliver) are out to save the college that Slats’ sister Molly (Martha O’Driscoll) is attending after the dean (Donald Cook) offers her a scholarship. The school is under threat of foreclosure on its mortgage, spearheaded by a man named Kirkland (Charles Dingle) who doesn't approve of Molly’s acceptance into the school. While Slats and Oliver are hired as caretakers under the supervision of Mr. Johnson (Lon Chaney, Jr.), they attempt to get the money to pay off the mortgage by doing everything from participating in a wrestling match to dressing in drag for a basketball game.

Here Come the Co-eds is presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio and features an older transfer that’s soft with mild flicker, speckling, scratches, and mild crush, but is stable and clear otherwise. The audio (English 2.0 mono DTS-HD) is flat with hiss, crackle, and occasional thumps, as well as a dropout at the 01:00:16 mark. Otherwise, there are clear dialogue exchanges to be had. Extras include the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 52 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, and lobby cards; and 3 pages of production notes.

IN SOCIETY (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C+/B/C
HERE COME THE CO-EDS (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C+/B-/C-

(DISC SEVEN)
THE NAUGHTY NINETIES (1944)
LITTLE GIANT (1946)

In The Naughty Nineties, Abbott (Dexter) and Sebastian (Costello) find themselves in the 1890s on a show boat that travels up and down the Mississippi River. The boat’s owner, Captain Sam (Henry Travers), picks up three people: Crawford (Alan Curtis), Bonita (Rita Johnson), and Bailey (Joe Sawyer), who turn out to be criminals on the lam that take over the boat for their own financial gains. Now it’s up to Dexter, Sebastian, the captain, and his daughter Caroline (Lois Collier) to get their boat back and throw the three lawbreakers overboard.

The presentation of The Naughty Nineties, presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio, is mostly sharp with good delineation and contrast, while also appearing clean and stable throughout. The audio (English 2.0 mono DTS-HD) is slightly more robust than most with a touch of hiss, good dialogue reproduction, and strong music. Extras include a new audio commentary by author and film historian Scott Allen Nollen; an animated image gallery featuring 61 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, and lobby cards; and 5 pages of production notes.

In Little Giant, the two play separate roles. Costello (Benny) is a simple country boy from Cucamonga taking phonograph lessons on how to be a good salesman in the hopes of making enough money to help his mother (Mary Gordon) and marry his sweetheart Martha (Elena Verdugo). He soon leaves for the city for a sales job at a large company, where the sales manager John (Abbott) and his secret wife Hazel (Jacqueline deWit) also work. Benny is soon a success, but there may be going on under the surface at the company and he’ll have to do his best to try and stay out of trouble if he wants to return to Cucamonga triumphant.

For the presentation of Little Giant, presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio, the contrast is a tad too high, but grain resolves well enough, even with the noticeable touch of DNR. There’s also a minor amount of damage around the 00:25:44 mark, as well as a few scratches along the way. The audio (English 2.0 mono DTS-HD) is mostly clean and clear outside of obvious hiss, but dialogue exchanges come through well. Extras include a new audio commentary by author and film historian Scott Allen Nollen; the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 62 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, and lobby cards; and 3 pages of production notes.

THE NAUGHTY NINETIES (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/B+/B
LITTLE GIANT (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/C+/B-

(DISC EIGHT)
THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES (1946)
BUCK PRIVATES COME HOME (1947)

In The Time of Their Lives, we travel back in time to 1780, wherein Horatio (Costello) is traveling to the home of Tom Danbury (Jess Barker) with a letter of commendation from George Washington, which he hopes will allow him the honor of marrying Danbury’s beautiful and doting housemaid Nora (Anne Gillis). Standing in his way is Danbury’s butler Greenway (Abbott), who has his eyes set on Nora too. Both Horatio and Danbury’s fiancée Melody (Marjorie Reynolds) are accidentally shot by arriving soldiers and wind up as cursed souls on the property until their innocence is proven. For nearly 200 years, the pair remain there until the house is taken over and restored, whereupon the descendant of Greenway (also Abbott) comes to visit. It’s soon apparent that the house is haunted as Horatio and Melody attempt to point these new people in the direction of finding the evidence of their innocence, which is no easy task for a pair of ghosts.

The presentation of The Time of Their Lives, presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio, is soft, slightly unstable, contains heavy DNR, crushed blacks, and a few scratches—one of the least presentations overall. The audio (English 2.0 mono DTS-HD) is mostly flat but clean and clear with good dialogue and music. Extras include an audio commentary with film historian Frank Thompson; the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 59 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, and lobby cards; and 4 pages of production notes.

In Buck Privates Come Home, a direct sequel to the original, Slicker and Herbie (Abbott and Costello) are sent home after serving in World War II. They go back to selling ties and avoiding their former drill sergeant Collins (Nat Pendleton), who is now a police officer once again, while also finding themselves stuck with a young immigrant orphan named Evey (Beverly Simmons). They attempt to adopt her by one of them asking former lieutenant Sylvia (Joan Fulton) for her hand in marriage, but she is already involved with a race car driver named Bill (Tom Brown). Collins, keen on catching Evey in the hope of getting promoted, hounds their every move as they attempt to help Bill with an upcoming race so that he might win enough financial security to marry Sylvia and adopt Evey, which would thwart Collins’ plans.

Buck Privates Come Home is presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio and features an older transfer with obvious DNR applied, though not aggressively. There are also a few scratches and speckling along the way, as well as delineation issues. The audio (English 2.0 mono DTS-HD) includes minor hiss, but clear dialogue and good score reproduction. Extras include the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 55 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, and lobby cards; and 4 pages of production notes.

THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B+/D+/B-
BUCK PRIVATES COME HOME (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C+/C+/B-

(DISC NINE)
THE WISTFUL WIDOW OF WAGON GAP (1947)
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948)

In The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap, Abbott (Duke) and Chester (Costello) make their way to the titular old western town and find themselves tried for murder. Once acquitted, an old town law states that Chester must now take responsibility for the departed’s familial obligations, among them his wife Hawkins (Marjorie Main) and her children. Her plan to force Chester into marriage is waylaid by his reluctance, but also after he is appointed the town sheriff. Not wanting to stay there any longer, Duke starts a rumor that Hawkins is about to strike it rich, and soon everyone in Wagon Gap is eager to do Chester in, much to his chagrin.

The presentation of The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap, presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio, is bright and clear, but with obvious DNR and occasional speckling. Otherwise, it’s highly watchable. The audio (English 2.0 Dolby Digital) is flat and narrow with mild hiss, but clear dialogue exchanges. Extras include the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 70 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, and lobby cards; and 4 pages of production notes.

The crown jewel of their collaborations, Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein, sees Chick (Abbott) and Wilbur (Costello) as baggage clerks who must deliver crates to a local museum. Within these crates are Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and Frankenstein’s Monster (Glenn Strange), who soon escape upon arrival. A plan is hatched by Dracula and the beautiful Dr. Mornay (Lenore Aubert) to replace the Monster’s brain with that of Wilbur’s. He and Chick are subsequently brought to Dracula’s castle, where Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) is trying to stop Dracula from carrying out his plans, but also avoiding his frequent transformations into a werewolf.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio, receives a decent black and white presentation. It’s taken from an older transfer lacking in extreme fine detail and overt grain levels, but grayscale is appealing, as are black levels. The audio (English 2.0 Dolby Digital) features clear dialogue and good score reproduction without any major leftover damage, though the overall presentation is a bit too narrow. Extras include audio commentary with film historian Gregory William Mank; the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 88 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, lobby cards, and promotional materials; and 4 pages of production notes.

THE WISTFUL WIDOW OF WAGON GAP (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C+/C/C+
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): A/B-/B-

(DISC TEN)
MEXICAN HAYRIDE (1948)
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KILLER, BORIS KARLOFF (1949)

In Mexican Hayride, Harry (Abbott) makes his way to Mexico City, but with Joe (Costello) not far behind after Harry double-crosses him. Also hot on Harry’s heels is Mary (Virginia Grey), Joe’s ex-girlfriend, masquerading as a bullfighter. Also looking for Joe and Harry are the American police, and after Harry talks Joe into partaking in another scheme, they are subsequently caught and on the run from the authorities, even making their way back to the bullfighting arena where Joe is soon on the run from a massively horned bovine.

Mexican Hayride is presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio with a very old master that’s lacking in detail but clean with good delineation. The audio (English 2.0 mono DTS-HD) is flat with minor hiss but discernable dialogue. Extras include a new audio commentary by author and film historian Scott Allen Nollen; the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 65 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, lobby cards, and promotional materials; and 3 pages of production notes.

Riding the Universal monster train again, the pair re-team for Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff. In it, renowned lawyer Amos Strickland (Nicholas Joy) checks into a hotel where the bellboy Freddie (Costello) and house detective Casey (Abbott) are working. After Strickland is murdered, Freddie is blamed and must clear his name to inspector Wellman (James Flavin) and sergeant Stone (Mikel Conrad). Strickland’s former clients, including the swami Talpur (Boris Karloff) and a woman named Angela (Lenore Aubert), among others, also fall under suspicion. Soon, the suspects are being bumped off one by one and Freddie is still to blame, making him even more keen to prove himself innocent.

Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff, presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio, features an excellent transfer (one of the best overall), with solid grain, good delineation, and little more than minor speckling leftover. The audio (English 2.0 mono DTS-HD) features prevalent hiss, but good dialogue and score reproduction. Extras include a new audio commentary with author and film historian Troy Howarth; an animated image gallery featuring 81 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, lobby cards, and promotional materials; and 4 pages of production notes.

MEXICAN HAYRIDE (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C/B-/C+
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KILLER, BORIS KARLOFF (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/B+/B-

(DISC ELEVEN)
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO IN THE FOREIGN LEGION (1950)
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN (1951)

In Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion, Bud and Lou (their actual names in the film) head to Algeria to track down their star wrestler Abdullah (Wee Willie Davis) after he refuses to fight for them. What they don’t know is that Abdullah’s cousin Sheik (Douglass Dumbrille) is into extortion, and when Bud and Lou arrive, believe them to be spies. Now on the run and bumping into a real spy, Nicole (Patricia Medina), along the way, they're tricked into joining the Foreign Legion by a crooked sergeant (Walter Slezak) and find even more trouble when they’re accused of being traitors to the Legionnaires.

Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion features a soft but pleasant presentation in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio that’s clean with good grayscale and ideal contrast, as well as deep blacks and mild flicker. The audio (English 2.0 mono DTS-HD) is flat but with good, discernable dialogue exchanges and decent sound effects. Extras include an animated image gallery featuring 67 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, lobby cards, and promotional materials; and 3 pages of production notes.

In Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man, Bud and Lou return as newly-graduated private detectives who are confronted with Tommy (Arthur Franz), a former boxer who has escaped from jail and is on the run from the police. Declaring himself innocent, he convinces them to take him to his fiancée Helen (Nancy Guild) and her uncle Dr. Philip Gray (Gavin Muir). Tommy attempts to persuade Philip to inject him with invisibility serum, but Philip refuses, fearing for Tommy’s sanity. When the police arrive, Tommy does it himself, and with the aid of Bud and Lou, endeavors to find out who was behind the murder that Tommy was convicted for.

Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man is presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio and contains night photography that’s a bit cloudy, but everything around it is mostly pleasant with solid levels of detail and good grayscale. The audio (English 2.0 mono DTS-HD) is less narrow than previous presentations, but also contains clear dialogue and good score reproduction. Extras include the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 86 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, lobby cards, and promotional materials; and 4 pages of production notes.

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO IN THE FOREIGN LEGION (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B-/B-/B-
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B-/B/B-

(DISC TWELVE)
COMIN’ ROUND THE MOUNTAIN (1951)
LOST IN ALASKA (1952)

In Comin’ Round the Mountain, Wilbert (Costello) is a failed magician and Al (Abbott) is his agent. After a poor performance, they and nightclub singer Dorothy McCoy (Dorothy Shay) are fired. McCoy surmises that Wilbert is a long-lost relative of the McCoy clan and that he may be able to locate their hidden treasure. The three head for the hills of Kentucky where they meet the McCoys, headed by Granny (Ida Moore), while also avoiding the Winfields, headed by Devil Dan (Glenn Strange). Wilbert also finds himself in the middle of a clan war between the McCoys and the Winfields, catching occasional gunfire. Granny informs Wilbert that he must marry before the location of the hidden gold can be revealed to him, but Dorothy has her sights set on Clark Winfield (Kirby Grant). Al and Wilbert visit a local witch doctor (Margaret Hamilton) for love potion, which backfires when more parties than the intended get a taste of it.

Comin’ Round the Mountain is taken from an older transfer, presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio, with scratches and speckling throughout and contrast that’s a tad too low. The audio (English 2.0 mono DTS-HD) contains hiss and light crackle, but dialogue is discernable and the music has occasional boost to it. Extras include an animated image gallery featuring 51 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, lobby cards, and promotional materials; and 4 pages of production notes.

In Lost in Alaska, Tom (Abbott) and George (Costello) are firemen who prevent "Nugget" (Tom Ewell) from committing suicide over losing his girlfriend Rosette (Mitzi Green). They discover that Nugget has gold on him and follow him to the Yukon when he receives a telegram that Rosette still loves him. Once there, they learn that Nugget has many enemies and that the owner of the casino (Bruce Cabot) wishes Rosette to marry Nugget so that he may kill him and inherit his gold. They soon head to the icy tundra to avoid being shot, befriending Eskimos along the way, but also managing to keep the gold hidden away.

Lost in Alaska is presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio and features mild flicker and scratches, but is stable with excellent detail and good grayscale. The audio (English 2.0 mono DTS-HD) is less flat than usual with clear dialogue and decent sound effects and music. Extras include the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 71 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, lobby cards, and promotional materials; and 3 pages of production notes.

COMIN’ ROUND THE MOUNTAIN (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C/C+/C+
LOST IN ALASKA (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C/B-/B

(DISC THIRTEEN)
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS (1953)
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1953)

In Abbott and Costello Go to Mars, Orville (Costello) and Lester (Abbott) accidentally blast off in a rocket, first to places on Earth (mistakenly believing they’re on Mars) where they find trouble in two escaped convicts on the run (Jack Kruschen and Morace McMahon) and then they’re off into orbit, subsequently landing on Venus. There they meet a planet inhabited completely by beautiful women, run by Queen Allura (Mari Blanchard), who takes a shine to Orville. Meanwhile, Orville finds it difficult to stay away from the other women and Queen Allura doesn’t approve.

Abbott and Costello Go to Mars is presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio with an older but pleasant transfer. It features good stability, delineation, and contrast, as well as minor specking and scratches along the way. The audio (English 2.0 mono DTS-HD) is flat but features clear and discernable dialogue, as well as decent sound effects. Extras include the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 69 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, lobby cards, and promotional materials; and 3 pages of production notes.

The duo return to the Universal Monster playground with Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Thrown off the police force in London, England, Slim (Abbott) and Tubby (Costello) make it their mission to capture the titular monster and end the horrible murder spree that’s taking place nightly. Meanwhile, Dr. Jekyll (Boris Karloff) becomes jealous of his ward Vicky (Helen Westcott) who seems to have feelings for a local reporter (Craig Stevens), transforming himself into the hideous monster to try and dispose of him. Slim and Tubby are on the case, but things go awry when Tubby takes some of Dr. Jekyll’s devilish formula as well, which causes mayhem for Slim, who is more determined than ever to get back into the police’s good graces.

Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio with a much older transfer, but quite clean and stable with decent grayscale throughout. The audio (English 2.0 mono DTS-HD) features prevalent hiss and mild distortion, but good dialogue reproduction as well. Extras include an audio commentary by film historians Tom Weaver and Richard Serivani; the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 81 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, lobby cards, and promotional materials; and 3 pages of production notes.

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C+/B-/C+
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/B/B-

(DISC FOURTEEN)
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KEYSTONE KOPS (1955)
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY (1955)

In Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops, Harry (Abbott) and Willie (Costello) foolishly invest their money in a faux movie studio—sold to them by con artist Joe Gorman (Fred Cralk) who runs away to Hollywood posing as a director. Harry and Willie go after him and accidentally wind up on the set of the movie he’s shooting, impressing the producer with their unintentional stunt work. They’re hired on the film, but Gorman attempts to get rid of them through a series of dangerous stunts while stealing a large amount of the studio’s money with the help of his girlfriend Leota (Lynn Bari). It’s now up to Harry, Willie, and the Keystone Kops to catch them.

Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops is presented in its intended 1:85:1 aspect ratio from a very old transfer with obvious DNR and blown-out whites, but is clean and stable otherwise. The audio (English 2.0 mono DTS-HD) features clear and discernable dialogue and excellent score reproduction with only mild hiss. Extras include an animated image gallery featuring 62 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, lobby cards, and promotional materials; and 4 pages of production notes.

In their final film for Universal, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, Bud and Lou (as themselves) are stranded in Cairo with a mysterious medallion that can lead them to an ancient mummy and possible treasure. This also attracts the attention of the followers of Klaris, the guardian of the Tomb of Princess Ara, including Semu (Richard Deacon), a Madame Rontru (Marie Windsor), Iben (Mel Welles), and Hetsut (Richard Karlan). Everyone makes their way into the ancient tomb to look for the mummy and the hidden treasure, but Semu and his men make things difficult for Bud and Lou.

Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy is presented in its intended 1:37:1 aspect ratio in a soft but pleasant presentation with decent delineation and a clean and stable frame, though a tad dark. The audio (English 2.0 mono DTS-HD) features clear dialogue exchanges and good score reproduction without any major leftover damage. Extras include a new audio commentary by author and film historian Troy Howarth; the theatrical trailer; an animated image gallery featuring 79 on-set photos, promotional stills, posters, lobby cards, and promotional materials; and 4 pages of production notes.

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KEYSTONE KOPS (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C/C-/B-
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C+/B-/B-

All of these films also feature optional subtitles in English SDH.

The final disc in this set, Disc Fifteen, also features an array of new and vintage bonus materials:

  • Abbott and Costello: Life and Legacy (HD – 1:13:12)
  • Abbott and Costello: Film Stories (HD – 50:36)
  • Abbott and Costello: Behind the Scenes (HD – 17:08)
  • The World of Abbott and Costello (HD – 1:14:53)
  • Abbott and Costello Meet Jerry Seinfeld (SD – 45:44)
  • Abbott and Costello Meet the Monsters (SD – 33:99)
  • Abbott and Costello Meet Castle Films (HD – 8 in all – 1:11:38)
  • Abbott and Costello Trailer Reel (SD – 29 in all – 1:05:10)
  • Pardon My Sarong Bloopers (SD – 3:55)
  • It Ain’t Hay Bloopers (SD – 7:16)
  • Hit the Ice Bloopers (SD – 12:42)
  • Little Giant Bloopers (SD – 18:44)
  • Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein Bloopers (SD – 12:14)

The new Life and Legacy featurette includes interviews with Chris Costello (author and daughter of Lou Costello) and Ron Palumbo (co-author of Abbott and Costello in Hollywood) who speak about the history of the two comedians. The new Film Stories featurette includes an interview with author and film historian James L. Neibaur (The Monster Movies of Universal Studios) who goes over each film and the history behind them. The new Behind the Scenes featurette includes more of Ron Palumbo’s interview speaking about the various writers and directors who worked on Abbott and Costello’s films. The World of Abbott and Costello is a 1965 compilation film of many of their best routines, hosted by Jack E. Leonard. Abbott and Costello Meet Jerry Seinfeld is a 1994 TV special that highlights the importance of their comedy. Abbott and Costello Meet the Monsters is featurette from 2000 about their work with the Universal Monsters. Abbott and Costello Meet Castle Films is a new collection of 8 of Abbott and Costello’s most popular 8mm and 16mm films, curated by The 3-D Film Archive. They include No Indians, Please! (from Ride ’Em Cowboy), Fun on the Run (from Here Come the Co-eds), High Flyers (from Keep ’Em Flying), Knights of the Bath (from In Society), Rocket and Roll (from Abbott and Costello Go to Mars), Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Ride ’Em Cowboy, and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy. The Trailer Reel consists of 29 trailers, most of which are already featured on their film disc counterparts. They include One Night in the Tropics, Buck Privates, In the Navy, Hold That Ghost, Keep ’Em Flying, Ride ’Em Cowboy, Pardon My Sarong, Who Done It?, It Ain’t Hay, Hit the Ice, In Society, Here Come the Co-eds, Little Giant, The Time of Their Lives, Buck Privates Come Home, The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Mexican Hayride, Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff, Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion, Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man, Comin’ Round the Mountain, Jack and the Beanstalk, Lost in Alaska, Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd, Abbott and Costello Go to Mars, Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops, and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy. All of this material, including the audio commentaries and the bloopers, is extensive and well worth your time as it all dives deep into everything Abbott and Costello related.

Also included in this set is a 46-page insert booklet featuring introductions by Vickie Abbott Wheeler, Paddy Costello Humphreys, and Chris Costello; trivia and information about Abbott and Costello and their films; and a guide to each disc’s contents. Everything is housed in three separate multi-disc cases and tucked away nicely in handsome slipcase packaging. It’s worth noting that several films that Abbott and Costello made for other studios are not included here, nor are the 100 Years of Universal: The Lot and 100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Characters featurettes that were included on the Universal Pictures Blu-ray release of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

If it isn’t painfully obvious by now, this set is mostly for die-hard Abbott and Costello fans. But if there are those who haven’t seen any of their films, this is the best place to get started. This boxed set is massive and will take one days, weeks, or possibly months to cull through. The transfers are not perfect, but since many of them have never been on Blu-ray before, they’re more than welcome to the fold. In essence, Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Collection is a treasure trove of some of the greatest comedy ever committed to celluloid, all of it assembled in one place for easy access. Highly recommended.

– Tim Salmons

Tags

1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 80th Anniversary Edition, A Edward Sutherland, Abbott and Costello, Abbott and Costello Go to Mars, Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion, Abbott and Costello Meet Dr_ Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man, Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops, Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, Alan Curtis, Alex Gottlieb, Allan Jones, Allen Boretz, Anne Gwynne, Anniversary Edition, Arthur Franz, Arthur Hilton, Arthur Lubin, Arthur T Horman, Arthur Treacher, Audrey Young, Bela Lugosi, Beverly Simmons, Binnie Barnes, Blu-ray, Blu-ray Disc, Boris Karloff, box set, boxed set, boxset, Bradford Ropes, Bram Stoker, Brenda Joyce, Buck Privates, Buck Privates Come Home, Bud Abbott, Burt Kelly, Carol Bruce, Cecil Kellaway, Charles Barton, Charles Grayson, Charles Lamont, Charles Previn, Charles Van Enger, Clifford Stine, comedy, Comin' Round the Mountain, Curt Siodmak, Damon Runyon, DD Beauchamp, Dick Foran, Dick Powell, Dorothy Fields, Dorothy Shay, Dr Jekyll, Dracula, Dudley Dickerson, Edgar Fairchild, Edmund Hartmann, Edmund Joseph, Edmund L Hartmann, Edward Curtiss, Ella Fitzgerald, Elyse Knox, Erich Zeisl, Erle C Kenton, Eugene Pallette, Evelyn Ankers, Frank Gross, Frank Skinner, Frankenstein, Frankenstein's Monster, Fred Clark, Fred R Feitshans Jr, Fred Rinaldo, Frederic I Rinaldo, Frederic Riedel, Gale Sondergaard, George Robinson, Gertrude Purcell, Ginny Simms, Glenn Strange, Glenn Tryon, Grace McDonald, Grant Garett, Hal Fimberg, Hans J Salter, Harry Revel, Henry Mancini, Here Come the Co-Eds, HG Wells, Hit the Ice, HJ Salter, Hold That Ghost, horror, horror comedy, Howard Christie, Howard Snyder, Hugh Wedlock Jr, In Society, In the Navy, Iron Eyes Cody, Irving Gertz, It Ain't Hay, Jack E Leonard, Jacqueline deWit, Jean Yarbrough, Jeff Chandler, Jerome Kern, Joan Davis, Joe Besser, Joe Gershenson, John Grant, John Hubbard, John Shelton, John W Boyle, Joseph A Valentine, Joseph Gershenson, Jules Levey, Keep 'Em Flying, Kirby Grant, Lee Loeb, Leonard Spigelgass, Leonard Stern, Leonard Weiner, Lionel Atwill, Little Giant, Lloyd Akridge, Lon Chaney Jr, Lost in Alaska, Lou Costello, Lou Maury, Luba Malina, Mack Sennett, Margaret Dumont, Margaret Hamilton, Mari Blanchard, Marie Windsor, Marion Hutton, Marjorie Main, Marjorie Reynolds, Martha O'Driscoll, Martha Raye, Martin Ragaway, Mary Shelley, Mary Wickes, Mayfair Productions, Mel Welles, Mexican Hayride, Michael Ansara, Milton Carruth, Milton R Krasner, Milton Rosen, Milton Schwarzwald, Mitzi Green, Mr Hyde, mystery, Nancy Guild, Nancy Kelly, Nat Pendleton, Nat Perrin, One Night in the Tropics, Oscar Brodney, Pardon My Sarong, Patric Knowles, Patricia Medina, Paul Dessau, Paul Francis Webster, Paul Jarrico, Peggy King, Peggy Moran, Peggy Ryan, Philip Cahn, Reggie Lanning, review, Richard Carlson, Richard Collins, Richard Deacon, Ride 'Em Cowboy, Rita Johnson, Robert Arthur, Robert Cummings, Robert Lees, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Paige, Russell Schoengarth, Sheldon Leonard, Shemp Howard, Shout Factory, Shout Select, Shout! Factory, Sid Fields, Stanley Roberts, The Andrews Sisters, The Complete Universal Collection, The Digital Bits, The Invisible Man, The Naughty Nineties, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Time of Their Lives, The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap, The Wolfman, Tim Salmons, Tom Brown, Tom Ewell, True Boardman, Universal Pictures, Universal-International, Val Burton, Vincent Price, Virgil Vogel, Virginia Bruce, Virginia Grey, Walter DeLeon, Walter Scharf, Walter Schumann, Walter Slezak, western, Who Done It?, William A Seiter, William Bendix, William Frawley, William Gargan

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