On the surface, it seems unlikely for two goofballs like Abbott and Costello to stumble and bumble their way into Egypt, getting wrapped up in an ancient mummy adventure/caper. However, that’s precisely what happens in Charles Lamont’s Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy.

As I watched this film, I couldn’t help but think of Scooby Doo and the gang. Despite having a van called “The Mystery Machine,” they’d routinely find themselves accidentally wrapped up in zany mystery-adventures. There’s just something nice about that approach to a story! I guess it’s more exciting to walk into an adventure than to seek one. In this case, there’s a classic contrast between the dignity of Princess Ara’s legend and the slapstick humor of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.

How Does it Happen?

The story is simple: Abbott and Costello become mummy transporters to get back to America. We don’t necessarily know why they’re in Egypt, but we probably don’t care, either. Anyway, they end up with a cursed medallion, and find themselves in a plot involving Princess Ara’s treasure. Predictably, they meet someone who wants to steal it, and she’s named Madame Rontru (Marie Windsor).

One question popped up in my brain: How do you steal and sell a treasure? If it’s really treasured, wouldn’t authorities work extra hard to locate and return it? I’ve always found it interesting, but apparently some people do take such risks in real life. So yes, there is this Indiana Jones dynamic going on, involving Princess Ara and her mummy guardian, Klaris (Eddie Parker).

Zaniness

I could go on about the zany routines in this film, or make an attempt to analyze its meaning. That seems like a pointless endeavor, though. Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy“isn’t a deep movie, and it doesn’t need to be. However, much like old episodes of Scooby Doo, I was embarrassed by my inability to pay close attention to the story.

This is not a complex mystery by any means, but it seems like minor distractions threw off my ability to enjoy the story. In other words, as weird as it sounds, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy actually requires some mental focus to really enjoy it and be engrossed in it. It’s a bit like the Three Stooges. That’s a bunch of silly-billy nonsense, but you have to be engaged in it to appreciate it. Comedy may be a bunch of goofy gimmicks happening, but if you’re not paying attention, humor will be hard-won.

So, for me personally, this movie will eventually require a do-over. I remember a few fun moments with multiple mummies, and Abbott and Costello are likable. It’s really an old school, wholesome comedy-horror that could probably be enjoyed by non-cynical kids. So, if you feel up to it, put this movie on and party like it’s 1955!Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy also stars Michael Ansara as Charlie, Dan Seymour as Josef, Richard Deacon as Semu and Peggy King as a singer.

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Wade Wanio is an author.

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