Abbott and Costello Go to Mars

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Abbott and Costello Go to Mars
A&cmars.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byCharles Lamont
Produced byHoward Christie
Written by
Starring
Music by
CinematographyClifford Stine
Edited byRussell Schoengarth
Production
company
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • April 6, 1953 (1953-04-06)
Running time
77 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$762,446[2]
Box office$1.25 million (US)[3]

Abbott and Costello Go to Mars is a 1953 American science fiction comedy film directed by Charles Lamont starring the comedy team of Abbott and Costello. Made by Universal-International, it was produced by Howard Christie.

The film's storyline concerns the misadventures of Lester and Orville who accidentally find themselves aboard a rocketship bound for Mars, or so they think. Instead, they wind up landing at the New Orleans Mardi Gras thinking they have landed on the Red Planet. The pair are forced by bank robbers Mugsy and Harry to fly to the planet Venus, where they encounter a civilization consisting entirely of beautiful women. Despite the film's title, no character in the film travels to the planet Mars.

Plot[edit]

Orville (Lou Costello) is the oldest orphan at the Hideaway Orphans Home. He accidentally hides inside a truck heading to a top-secret laboratory. There he is placed under the supervision of lab worker Lester (Bud Abbott) to help load supplies onto an experimental rocket ship. While on board with Lester, Orville hits the ignition button and the rocket ship blasts off, flying across the country and eventually to New Orleans, where Mardi Gras is in progress. Lester and Orville, dressed in their spacesuits, witness the grotesquely costumed celebrants and conclude that they have successfully landed on Mars.

Meanwhile, two escaped convicts, Harry the Horse (Jack Kruschen) and Mugsy (Horace McMahon), stumble upon the rocket ship, don another pair of spacesuits and head to New Orleans to rob a bank. Lester and Orville are wrongly accused of the crime and rush back to the rocket ship, where Mugsy and Harry force them to launch into outer space.

The rocket ship lands on Venus, where the four men are quickly captured by female guards and brought to Queen Allura (Mari Blanchard). She informs them that Venus is inhabited only by women, as men were banished a long time ago. She takes more than a liking to Orville, however, and decides that he can stay if he is true to her. Orville agrees, and has Harry and Mugsy imprisoned. But Mugsy convinces one of the female guards to flirt with Orville to prove to Queen Allura that he cannot be trusted. Disillusioned with Orville, the Queen orders the men to leave Venus.

Upon returning to the Earth, the men are lauded as heroes in a parade, but Allura, who is watching the celebration from Venus, sends a spaceship to Earth that drops a cake on Orville's head.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein wrote a film treatment in 1950 called Abbott and Costello Move to the Moon that may have inspired the film's screenplay.[4]

Principal photography took place between August 1 and August 28, 1952.[5]

The Venusian women were played by Miss Universe contestants, including Anita Ekberg, the winner of the Miss Sweden competition.[6]

The Venusian cars featured in the film were later used in the science fiction feature This Island Earth (1955).[7]

A nine-year-old Harry Shearer appears as a kid at the orphanage.

Shortly after the film's release, Abbott and Costello appeared on The Colgate Comedy Hour and did a comedy sketch in which they attended the film's premiere.

Home media[edit]

The film has had two DVD releases, the first as part of The Best of Abbott and Costello Volume Three, released on August 3, 2004, and the second as part of Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection, released on October 28, 2008.

In popular culture[edit]

In April 2018 and February 2019 the film was shown on MeTV’s “Svengoolie” program. Series host Rich Koz as Svengoolie took humorous swipes at the film as well as giving some background info on the supporting cast.[citation needed]

In the 2018 film, Stan & Ollie, Stan Laurel, played by Steve Coogan, looks ruefully at a movie poster for Abbott and Costello Go To Mars just after learning that his last chance to make a new film with Oliver Hardy has fallen through.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Abbott and Costello Go to Mars at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. ^ Furmanek p 236
  3. ^ 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1953', Variety, January 13, 1954
  4. ^ Furmanek, Bob and Ron Palumbo (1991). Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. New York: Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-51605-0
  5. ^ Furmanek, Bob and Ron Palumbo (1991). Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. New York: Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-51605-0
  6. ^ Jim Mulholland (1977). The Abbott and Costello Book. Popular Library. p. 204.
  7. ^ Furmanek, Bob and Ron Palumbo (1991). Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. New York: Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-51605-0

Bibliography[edit]

  • Furmanek, Bob and Ron Palumbo. Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. New York: Perigee Books, 1991.
  • Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Films of the Fifties, 21st Century Edition. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009, (First edition 1982). ISBN 0-89950-032-3.
  • Wingrove, David (1985). Science Fiction Film Source Book, Longman Group Limited.

External links[edit]