ABBOTT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS (1953)
Article #1080 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-28-2004
Posting Date: 7-27-2004
Directed by Charles Lamont
Featuring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Mari Blanchard
Two simpletons accidentally start up a rocket and end up going to Venus.
I really like certain aspects of this movie, in particular that it was the first real attempt by a comedy team to take on the science fiction trend that was coming to life during the fifties. The movie touches upon certain aspects of the early space travel movies; the weightlessness, the magnetic shoes, the meteors, etc. that were rapidly becoming cliches. It also takes on one of the silliest science fiction plotlines of the era, that of another planet being made up entirely of women; in fact, it beats most of the other variations of that story to the screen and was smart enough to realize that the concept was best played for comedy. Unfortunately, the jokes and gags are very uneven; the weightlessness sequence is not only highly inaccurate, it’s also bizarre rather than funny. The addition of two comic characters who slightly resemble Bud and Lou also seems unnecessary. My favorite sequence is probably the middle part, where they land in the bayou near New Orleans and visit the town during Mardi Gras under the belief they are on Mars. Lou Costello was immensely popular with children, and this is perhaps the movie where he most plays up that popularity by making his character particularly childlike; his first scene is among children at an orphanage, and he maintains a certain innocent wonder throughout, though this dissipates somewhat when the story shifts into the Venus sequence. Overall, it’s something of a disappointment, but it does have its moments.