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Abbott & Costello The Complete Universal Pictures Collection: Hold That Ghost (1941) - Blu-ray Review

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Hold That Ghost (1941)

“I know what happens in those mystery pictures!  A guy walks over to a perfectly ordinary door he opens it up and - ZOWIE! - out falls a body right on its kisser!”

And, of course, a body falls to the ground!  When it comes to getting the tone of horror comedies right, you have to sometimes go back to the past.  And, honestly, there might not be a better duo to “rediscover” than Abbott & Costello . . . especially on dark and stormy nights which is why Hold That Ghost and its “fiend with fangs” is worth the ticket.

"Both comedians bring their "A" game to the routines here and create a masterful execution of comedy nuggets."


From the “No Soup” routine to the constant bullets flying by Lou Costello’s face and through his clothes, Hold That Ghost and its opening 20-minutes is an endless hoot and a half as two bumbling gas station attendants Chuck Murray (Bud Abbott) and Ferdie Jones (Lou Costello) find themselves in the middle of an unexpected shootout when gangster "Moose" Mattson (William B. Davidson) decides to take them along for a ride away from the cops.  What they don’t know is that Moose’s unconventional Last Will & Testament leaves them responsible for his rundown club, The Forrester’s Club, when he is killed by the cops.

Suddenly, the boys are in over their heads as an abandoned and shadow-filled mansion awaits them when a bus driver leaves them and the other passengers to fend for themselves on a dark and rainy night.  Complete with a creaky cellar and hidden doors, the boys and their guests - Charlie Smith (Marc Lawrence), a doctor (Richard Carlson), a radio actress (Joan Davis) and a waitress (Evelyn Ankers) - are left alone to try to survive the night . . . and find Moose’s missing money.

The gags - all tied to the spooky hijinks in the house - are endless and the zingers, producing louder and longer laughs than I remember, are both clever and hilarious, showing that this duo was enjoying their newly-found cinematic fame.  Of course, this film was released in 1941, when they were just starting to skyrocket across Hollywood.Hold That Ghost (1941)

Having successfully stolen the show in 1941’s One Night in the Tropics, the comedy duo of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello - who were big on radio but untested on film - were quickly signed by Universal Pictures for a remarkable run of INSANELY popular films that saw them paired with everyone from The Andrew Sisters (featured in this movie) to The Invisible Man and, in one of their final films, rocketing off to Mars.    

In honor of their achievements in comedy, Shout Select put together the ultimate box set for all die-hard Abbott and Costello fans to salivate over.  That was in 2019, but, to celebrate the 81st anniversary of the duo, we dive into one of the 28 films - which also includes Buck Privates, Who Done It?, Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, In The Navy, and Abbott & Costello Meet The Mummy - that makes up the collection: the hilariousness that is Hold That Ghost.

Directed by Arthur Lubin and featuring a room which completely changes on its own, the horror comedy is a complete gas as Costello is driven completely insane by all the attempts to thwart the duo from uncovering Moose's money - which is hidden somewhere inside the house.  The performances - with a standout performance from Joan Davis - are engaging on their own, but it is the dynamic duo's playfullness in this "haunted" house which makes this film endlessly amusing.  Both comedians bring their "A" game to the routines here and create a masterful execution of comedy nuggets.

For this Halloween season, I’m going to start my Abbott and Costello journey with the horror comedies of which Hold That Ghost is one of several in this release.  With 28 films together in one set and ALL in high definition, where are you going to start?

Abbott & Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection (80th Anniversary Edition) is out now on blu-ray thanks to Shout! Select.

5/5 stars

Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- November 19, 2019
Screen Formats: 1.85:1, 1.37:1, 1.36:1, 1.35:1, 1.33:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; fifteen-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

All 28 films together in one set in high definition!  Get ready to laugh out loud with the most popular comedy duo of all time in Abbott & Costello : The Complete Universal Pictures Collection! All 28 films produced during the height of their popularity at Universal Pictures are here in one collection. Featuring their most popular movies, such as Buck Privates, Who Done It? and Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, this collection is filled with some of the most hilarious routines of all time, including "Who's on First?"! Loaded with hours of bonus features and an exclusive collectible book, this is the ultimate tribute to two of the funniest and most enduring comedians of all time!

Video:

With a crisp black-and-white transfer, Hold That Ghost lands on blu-ray thanks to the crackling efforts of Shout Select.  Shadows, while not too terribly detailed, are thick and atmospheric throughout. Presented with an aspect ratio of 1.37:1, the film looks marvelous and easily beats the poor appearance on television and on home video DVD that has previously dogged it. The blacks and grays are handled expertly by the transfer.  Beads of sweat are visible, wet city streets, textures in clothing, and even the dirt in the pavement is all visible with fine textures throughout.

Audio:

Let the haunted hijinks begin again!  The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track which accompanies this film is solid in its footing.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • See Special Features for specific details about this film.

Special Features:

Fifteen discs, 28 movies, and hours on end of bonus material.  Dig deep!

DISC ONE:

ONE NIGHT IN THE TROPICS (1940)

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

BUCK PRIVATES (1941)

  • Audio Commentary By Authors/Film Historians Bob Furmanek And Ron Palumbo (Abbott And Costello In Hollywood)
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

DISC TWO:

IN THE NAVY (1941)

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

HOLD THAT GHOST (1941)

  • Audio Commentary By Film Historian Jeff Miller
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

DISC THREE: 

KEEP ‘EM FLYING (1941)

  • NEW Audio Commentary By Author/Film Historian Scott Allen Nollen
  • Recruitment Short/Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

RIDE ‘EM COWBOY (1942)

  • NEW Audio Commentary By Author/Film Historian Scott Allen Nollen
  • NEW Audio Commentary By Author/Film Historian James L. Neibaur
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

DISC FOUR:

PARDON MY SARONG (1942)

  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

WHO DONE IT? (1942)

  • Audio Commentary With Film Historian Frank Conniff
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

DISC FIVE:

IT AIN’T HAY (1943)

  • NEW Audio Commentary By Author/Film Historian Scott Allen Nollen
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

HIT THE ICE (1943)

  • NEW Audio Commentary By Author/Film Historian Scott Allen Nollen
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

DISC SIX:

IN SOCIETY (1944)

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

HERE COME THE CO-EDS (1945)

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

DISC SEVEN:

THE NAUGHTY NINETIES (1944)

  • NEW Audio Commentary By Author/Film Historian Scott Allen Nollen
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

LITTLE GIANT (1946)

  • NEW Audio Commentary By Author/Film Historian Scott Allen Nollen
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

DISC EIGHT:

THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES (1946)

  • Audio Commentary With Film Historian Frank Thompson
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

BUCK PRIVATES COME HOME (1947)

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

DISC NINE:

THE WISTFUL WIDOW OF WAGON GAP (1947)

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948)

  • Audio Commentary By Film Historian Gregory William Mank
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

DISC TEN:

MEXICAN HAYRIDE (1948)

  • NEW Audio Commentary By Author/Film Historian Scott Allen Nollen
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KILLER, BORIS KARLOFF (1949)

  • NEW Audio Commentary By Author/Film Historian Troy Howarth
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

DISC ELEVEN:

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO IN THE FOREIGN LEGION (1950)

  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN (1951)

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

DISC TWELVE:

COMIN’ ROUND THE MOUNTAIN (1951)

  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

LOST IN ALASKA (1952)

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

DISC THIRTEEN:

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS (1953)

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1953)

  • Audio Commentary By Film Historians Tom Weaver And Richard Serivani
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

DISC FOURTEEN:

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KEYSTONE KOPS (1955)

  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY (1955)

  • NEW Audio Commentary By Author/Film Historian Troy Howarth
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • Production Notes

DISC FIFTEEN:

THE WORLD OF ABBOTT AND COSTELLO (1965)

ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET JERRY SEINFELD (1994)

ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET THE MONSTERS (2000)

  • NEW Abbott And Costello: Their Lives And Legacy – Featuring Interviews With Chris Costello (Daughter Of Lou Costello) And Ron Palumbo (Co-author Of Abbott And Costello In Hollywood)
  • NEW Abbott And Costello: Film Stories – Featuring An Interview With Author/Film Historian James L. Neibaur (The Monster Movies Of Universal Studios)
  • NEW Abbott And Costello: Behind The Scenes – Ron Palumbo Talks About The Various Writers And Directors
  • NEW Abbott & Costello Meet Castle Films – 8 Of Abbott And Costello’s Best Castle Films 8mm/16mm Films
  • Outtakes From Pardon My Sarong, It Ain’t Hay, Hit The Ice, Little Giant, And Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein
  • The Abbott And Costello Trailer Reel

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

5/5 stars

Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

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