Abbott and Costello Go to Mars

Tagged: Film

Film (1953; vt On to Mars). Universal Studios. Directed by Charles Lamont. Written by D D Beauchamp and John Grant, based on a story by D D Beauchamp and Howard Christie. Starring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Mari Blanchard, Robert Paige, Martha Hyer, Jack Kruschen, Joe Kirk. 77 minutes. Black and white.

Two menial labourers, Orville (Costello) and Lester (Abbott), are inadvertently launched in a Spaceship and land near New Orleans; they exit wearing spacesuits because they think they have landed on Mars, a belief seemingly confirmed by the outlandish costumes of the Mardi Gras revellers. While Orville and Lester explore New Orleans, two escaped convicts sneak on board the spaceship and, when the labourers return, all four men accidentally take off again, this time landing on Venus, where they find a civilization of beautiful women led by Queen Allura (Blanchard), who exiled all the Venusian men because her husband had been unfaithful. While Allura is briefly enamoured of Orville, who has accidentally become the king of Venus, she rejects him after a lie-detecting machine (> Lie Detectors) reveals that he is attracted to other women. Allura then orders the four men to be sent back to Earth, where Orville and Lester receive a hero's welcome.

Taking a break from their encounters with Universal Studios' Monsters (> Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; Frankenstein; The Invisible Man), Abbott and Costello here embark upon a satirical Space Flight, although most of the film's action takes place on Earth. Still, the film does include some comic business involving spacesuits, space helmets, and weightlessness, as well as knowing references to Flash Gordon and the exotic Aliens of Pulp sf. The film's inept space travellers never know where they are going and cannot figure out where they have landed, mistaking New Orleans for Mars and Venus for Los Angeles (the latter because of its smog). The notion that other worlds might be inhabited solely by attractive women, presented seriously in later films like Cat-Women of the Moon (1953; vt Rocket to the Moon) and Queen of Outer Space (1958), is here introduced to sf films in an appropriately farcical context. [GW]

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