Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO
MEET THE MUMMY (1955)
Notes: Universal. 90 minutes.
Pete Patterson: Bud Abbott
Freddie Franklin: Lou Costello
Madame Rontru: Marie Windsor
Charlie: Michael Ansara
Josef: Dan Seymour
Semu: Richard Deacon (Mel on the Dick VanDyke Show)
Dr. Zoomer: Kurt Katch
Hetsut: Richard Karlan
Iben: Mel Welles
Habid: George Khoury
Klaris: Edwin Parker
Vocalist: Peggy King
Cigarette Girl: Carole Costello, Lou’s daughter.
Screenplay: John Grant
Produced: Howard Christie
Directed: Charles Lamont.
Summary: Accompanying stock footage of Egypt, a narrator explains: “Ithas been said that a man’s best friend is his mummy. In Egypttoday this theory is in great dispute. . . . Two bold adventurersare about to discover another kind of ‘mummy.'” Pith-helmetedAbbott and Costello (they ignore their character names for mostof the film) watch acrobats at an Egyptian club, where Dr. GustavZoomer is blabbing about his latest archaeological find: the mummyKlaris, “Prince of Evil,” which will provide a clueto the whereabouts of Princess Ara’s tomb and treasure. Followersof the high priest Semu are outraged, and Madame Rontru and herhenchmen are also interested: “There is no curse that a gunor a knife can’t cure.”
Zoomer is blowdarted to death while dictaphoning. Abbott and Costello seek him for jobs, and Lou is confused aboutEgyptian mummies sometimes being men. Bud: “I never hada mummy.” Lou: “Whad your father do, win you in a crapgame?”
Klaris is clearly alive in his sarcophagus,and comic business follows with the murderers hiding Zoomer’sbody from Lou. Semu announces a celebration for the “returnof Klaris to his people,” but a medallion is missing fromthe mummy. He gives fluid to the mummy, and the followers returnto Zoomer’s place to search. Meanwhile, the police suspect Budof the murder, and he and Lou have to don disguises as snake-charmingand rope-charming beggars (there’s a blur between Egyptian andIndian stereotypes throughout the film). Back at Zoomer’s, Loutries to test his confidence by recording gun threats in the dictaphone,which fools Bud and later many pursuers after Lou finds the medallion.
The “boys” try to hock the medallionto find out its worth, but the proprietor shrieks about a curseand runs. Madame Rontru will pay $5000 that night at Club Baghdad. Peggy King sings “You Came A Long Way From St. Louis,”and Bud orders hamburgers and coffee (after the sale, it’ll besteak and potatoes). The waiter shrieks that the medallion means”death to whoever holds it,” so after some comic switcheroo,Lou accidentally swallows it. Rontru with her henchmen, Charlieand Josef, take Lou to be fluorescoped, which makes the medallionvisible. Semu, passing himself off as a Professor, arranges anexpedition with Rontru to find the wealth of Ara. He knows secretpassages at a temple, where his followers are worshipping. Loustumbles on a secret passage, a bat, a giant iguana, a skeleton,and finally the mummy, which rises. Bud says, “Well, a livemummy is worth more to us than a dead one.” Terror ensues,then plots. With Semu gagged, Charlie becomes a fake mummy, asdoes Bud, and the real mummy is wandering around too. Two mummiesrun from Rontru’s gunshots, but not the real one. In a struggle,a torch sets off TNT, revealing the tomb of Princess Ara and blowingKlaris to bits.
Semu is dismayed, but Bud has an idea whichwill keep the legend alive. Cut to opening night at Kafe Klaris. Semu is the maître d’, the band consists of musicians dressedin bandages, and the film ends with a snake-charming gag: thearms of a woman for Bud, and an actual snake for Lou.
Commentary: Pardon my messiah complex, but I’ve watched this to spare you.