Starting off today’s Abbott and Costello double-feature is their classic 1948 comedy Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein!
Baggage clerks Chick Young (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello) get a mysterious call from London, asking them not to deliver a pair of crates to the McDougal House Of Horrors until the caller arrives. However, no sooner is the call ended than Mr. McDougal himself (Frank Ferguson) comes and demands that the crates be delivered. When Chick and Wilbur take the crates to the wax museum, Wilbur is spooked, especially when he learns the crates contain the coffin (and body) of Count Dracula and the body of the Frankenstein monster. He is frightened even more when, while Chick is elsewhere, he sees that Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and the monster (Glenn Strange) are alive (or undead, however you want to put it)!! They escape before anybody else returns, and Mr. McDougal has the two clerks arrested. Meanwhile, Dracula gets the monster to a castle where Wilbur’s girlfriend, Sandra Mornay (Lenore Aubert), is working. There, we learn that her reason for going out with Wilbur is because she believes they can replace the monster’s criminal brain with Wilbur’s to make the monster easier to control. Chick and Wilbur are released from jail on bail, and they meet the mysterious caller from London, who turns out to be Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.). Chick, of course, is really annoyed with Lawrence, since he seems to be backing up Wilbur’s claims about Dracula and the monster (and even worse, he claims to be a werewolf)! Wilbur finds himself in even more trouble, as insurance investigator Joan Raymond (Jane Randolph) is the one who got them out of jail and is now flirting with Wilbur in an attempt to find McDougal’s missing displays. She convinces Wilbur to take her to a costume ball, which is a problem as he had already promised to take Sandra there! However, when Chick and Wilbur bring Joan along to the castle to pick up Sandra, Sandra learns that Joan is an insurance investigator and wants to pull out of the whole thing. Dracula, posing as Dr. Lejos, refuses to let her out and bites her in the neck to control her. At the costume ball, Dracula and Sandra kidnap Wilbur and Joan. In the process, Chick finally sees the truth, but can he and Lawrence get to the castle in time to save Wilbur?
In production under the working title The Brain Of Frankenstein, the film we now know as Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein brought together both of Universal Studios’ biggest franchises of the time. Glenn Strange and Lon Chaney, Jr. reprised their roles as the Frankenstein Monster and the Wolfman, respectively (and Lon Chaney, Jr. even quickly stepped in as the monster when Glenn Strange got injured). They were joined by Bela Lugosi, who returned to the role of Dracula for the first time onscreen since the original 1931 Dracula (although he had played a few other vampires in between). However, not everybody was willing to do this movie. Lou apparently hated the script, and it took some convincing to get him to do the movie (which included hiring Charles Barton for the director). And Boris Karloff, who originally played the Frankenstein Monster, didn’t want to do it, believing it wouldn’t work. He did help with publicity though, and, after seeing its success, later joined Bud and Lou for Abbott And Costello Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff and Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.
Personally, I think this movie has certainly earned its reputation. It’s one of the few classic films I’ve been watching since I was a kid (and the fact that I haven’t grown tired of it yet is certainly a point in the movie’s favor). The way Abbott and Costello incorporate their “Moving Candle” routine into the movie is just so fun! And certainly the rest of the cast makes things work! It’s fun seeing all the monsters together, as well as seeing how much things had changed since they first started! As best as I can recall, for the 1931 Dracula (one of the few horror films I have seen), they never showed Dracula changing into a bat (or vice versa) onscreen, but here, through the use of animated transitions, we actually see it happen! The movie mixes the horror and comedy well, and you really can’t ask for better! Of course, with one final “cameo” provided by Vincent Price (or rather, his voice), we see the possibilities of doing further comedy/horror mashups with Bud and Lou! Seriously, this is a great movie, and if you haven’t seen this movie before, give it a try! If you have, well, sit down and watch it again, you know it’s good!
This movie is available on Blu-ray either individually or as part of several of the Universal Monsters sets from Universal Studios or as part of the 28-film The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection from Shout Factory, and is one hour, twenty-three minutes in length.
My Rating: 10/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
The Noose Hangs High (1948) – Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello – Mexican Hayride (1948)
The Wistful Widow Of Wagon Gap (1947) – The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection – Mexican Hayride (1948)
Coming Up Shorts! with… Garden Gopher (1950)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection)
Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.
Welcome to my new feature on various theatrical shorts! Sometimes my comments will be on shorts included as extras on a disc set I am reviewing, and other times, they will be completely unrelated to the movie being reviewed (and I will try to indicate which). Hope you enjoy!
(Length: 6 minutes, 11 seconds)
Spike the dog has to deal with a troublesome gopher when he tries to bury his bone. A few fun gags as Spike tries (and fails) to get rid of the gopher. Admittedly, one gag, where Spike gets blown up by gunpowder and is then shown doing a rather racist slow shuffle is somewhat problematic, although it is only once, and can be quickly skipped through. Otherwise, a very fun cartoon that is, as always, worth a few good laughs!
And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring cartoons by Tex Avery (and the eventual post on the entire Volume 1 set), along with other shorts!