Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein[a] is a 1948 American horror comedy film directed by Charles Barton and starring the comedy team of Abbott and Costello.

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello meet Frankenstein
Abbott costello frankenstein.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byCharles Barton
Produced byRobert Arthur
Screenplay byJohn Grant
Story by
Based onCharacters by
Mary Shelley
Bram Stoker
Curt Siodmak
H.G. Wells
Starring
Music byFrank Skinner
CinematographyCharles Van Enger
Edited byFrank Gross
Distributed byUniversal-International
Release date
June 15, 1948 (1948-06-15) (US)
Running time
83 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$792,270[1]
Box office$3.2 million[2]

The picture is the first of several films in which the comedy duo meets classic characters from Universal's horror film stable. In this film, they encounter Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi), Frankenstein's monster (Glenn Strange), and the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr.). Subsequent films pair the duo with the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the Mummy. (The comedians interacted with the last of the Universal Studios monsters, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, on live television on the Colgate Comedy Hour in 1954.) This film is considered the swan song for the "Big Three" Universal horror monsters, none of whom had appeared in a Universal film since House of Dracula (1945).

In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed this film "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry,[3][4] and in September 2007, Reader's Digest selected the movie as one of the top 100 funniest films of all time. The film is number 56 on the list of the American Film Institute's "100 Funniest American Movies".[5]

PlotEdit

Larry Talbot makes an urgent phone call to a railway station, where Chick Young and Wilbur Grey work as baggage clerks. Talbot tries to warn Wilbur of a shipment due to arrive for "McDougal's House Of Horrors". However, before he finishes, the moon rises and Talbot transforms into a werewolf, causing Wilbur to think the call is a prank. Meanwhile, McDougal demands the crates be personally delivered to his wax museum.

Chick and Wilbur deliver the crates after hours. They open the first one and find Dracula's coffin. When Chick leaves the room to retrieve the second crate, Wilbur reads the Dracula legend, and the coffin suddenly opens and Dracula sneaks out. Wilbur is so frightened he can barely articulate his call for help. When Chick returns, he refuses to believe the story. The boys open the second crate, and Chick goes to greet McDougal. Dracula hypnotizes Wilbur, finds Frankenstein's Monster in the second crate, and reanimates him. Both leave, and McDougal finds the crates empty and has Wilbur and Chick arrested.

That night, Dr. Sandra Mornay welcomes Dracula and the Monster to her island castle. Sandra has seduced Wilbur as part of Dracula's plan to give the monster a more obedient brain. Meanwhile, Wilbur and Chick are bailed out of jail by Joan Raymond, an undercover insurance investigator who also feigns love for Wilbur, hoping to gain information. Wilbur invites Joan to a masquerade ball that evening. Talbot takes the apartment across the hall from Wilbur and Chick, and asks them to help him find and destroy Dracula and the Monster. Wilbur agrees, but Chick remains skeptical.

Wilbur, Chick and Joan go to Sandra's castle to pick her up for the ball. Wilbur answers a telephone call from Talbot, who informs them that they are in fact in the "House of Dracula". Wilbur reluctantly agrees to search the castle and soon stumbles upon a basement staircase, where he has a few close encounters with the monsters. Meanwhile, Joan discovers Dr. Frankenstein's notebook in Sandra's desk, and Sandra finds an Insurance Investigator ID in Joan's purse.

A suave Dr. Lejos (a.k.a. Dracula) introduces himself to Joan and the boys. Also working at the castle and attending the ball is the naive Prof. Stevens, who questions some of the specialized equipment that has arrived. After Wilbur says that he was in the basement, Sandra feigns a headache and tells the others to go to the ball without her. In private, Sandra admits to Dracula that she feels they are not safe to conduct the experiment. In response, Dracula turns her into a vampire.

At the masquerade ball, Talbot accuses Lejos of being Dracula, but no one takes him seriously. Joan soon disappears. Sandra lures Wilbur to a quiet spot in the woods and attempts to bite him, but fails. While looking for Joan, Talbot becomes the Wolfman and attacks McDougal. Since Chick's costume is a wolf, McDougal accuses Chick, who escapes and witnesses Dracula hypnotizing Wilbur. Chick is also hypnotized and rendered helpless, while Dracula and Sandra bring Wilbur, Stevens, and Joan back to the castle. The next morning, Chick and Talbot meet up in the bayou and set out to rescue Wilbur and Joan.

Wilbur is quickly freed, but Dracula uses hypnotism to call him back. As Sandra prepares to cut into Wilbur's brain, Talbot and Chick burst in. Chick knocks out Sandra with a chair, and Talbot tries to free Wilbur but turns into the Wolfman again. Frankenstein's Monster breaks free of his bonds - Sandra tries to control him, but he throws her out the window. After an extended chase through the house, Dracula attempts to flee as a Bat, only to have the Wolfman pounce out a window and drag them both to their deaths. Chick, Stevens, Joan and Wilbur flee in boats; Stevens sets the pier ablaze while the Monster is standing on it, and he dies in the flames.

Wilbur scolds Chick for his earlier skepticism, and Chick remarks they have nothing to fear now. The Invisible Man addresses them from the boat's thwart, and they jump into the lake and swim away in terror.

CastEdit

ProductionEdit

The film was originally titled The Brain of Frankenstein, but the title was changed during filming to appear like less of a straight horror film and capitalize on Abbott and Costello's marquee value.[6] Costello hated the script. He said that his five-year-old daughter could have written something better, but he later warmed to the film during production.[6] Despite having previously portrayed vampires and similar caped characters in a variety of other films, this was the only time Béla Lugosi reprised his role from Dracula (1931) in a feature film.[7] Boris Karloff declined to appear in the film but agreed to promote it for Universal.[8] The production was originally budgeted at $759,524 ($8,082,300 today) but went $32,746 over that amount. Abbott and Costello were paid $105,000 ($1,117,300 today).[1]

During shooting, when the Monster throws Sandra through the lab window, Glenn Strange stepped on a camera cable and fractured his ankle. Lon Chaney Jr., who had previously played the Monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein, took over the role of the Monster for that scene. A stuntman doubled for Strange in some long shots of the fire scenes on the pier.[9]

ReleaseEdit

The film was re-released theatrically by Realart in 1956 on a co-bill with Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff.[citation needed] The Australian film board deleted almost every scene involving a monster before the film could be approved for release in that country.[6]

Home mediaEdit

After being released several times on VHS in the 1980s and 1990s, the film was released four times on DVD. Originally released as a single DVD on August 29, 2000,[10] it was re-released twice as part of two different Abbott and Costello collections, The Best of Abbott and Costello Volume Three, on August 3, 2004,[11] and again on October 28, 2008 as part of Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection.[12] The film's Blu-ray debut and DVD re-release was on September 4, 2012 as part of Universal's 100th Anniversary series.[13] It was also included in Frankenstein: Complete Legacy Collection (2014) along with seven other Universal Frankenstein films. Because this film includes characters and people featured in their own collections, it is part of the legacy collections of "Frankenstein", "Dracula", "The Wolf Man", and "The Best of Abbott and Costello".[14] It was released again on Blu-ray, as a stand-alone title, on October 14, 2014.

ReceptionEdit

Box officeEdit

According to Variety the film earned $2.2 million in the US in 1948.[15]

Critical responseEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 89% based on 27 reviews and a weighted average rating of 7.08/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A zany horror spoof that plays up and then plays into the best of Universal horror cliches."[16]

In 2000, the American Film Institute placed the film on its 100 Years...100 Laughs list, where it was ranked No. 56.[17]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ The film's poster title reads Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein, and the onscreen title is Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein.

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ a b Furmanek p. 168
  2. ^ Furmanek p. 175
  3. ^ "Librarian of Congress Names 25 More Films to National Film Registry". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  4. ^ "Complete National Film Registry Listing | Film Registry | National Film Preservation Board | Programs at the Library of Congress | Library of Congress". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-06-23. Retrieved 2016-08-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ a b c Furmanek, Bob; Palumbo, Ron (1991). Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. New York: Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-51605-0
  7. ^ Fitzgerald, Michael G. (1977), Universal Pictures: A Panoramic History in Words, Pictures, and Filmographies, New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House Publishers, p. 60, ISBN 0-87000-366-6
  8. ^ Thrash, Steven (2018-02-15). "Retro Recommendations: "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948)". Rue Morgue. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  9. ^ Glut, Donald F. (1973). The Frankenstein Legend: A Tribute to Mary Shelley and Boris Karloff. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, Inc. ISBN 0-8108-0589-8
  10. ^ Beierle, Aaron (2000-08-17). "Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  11. ^ Galbraith, Stuart (2004-09-01). "The Best of Abbott & Costello - Volume 3 (8 Film Collection)". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  12. ^ Galbraith, Stuart (2008-12-03). "Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  13. ^ Galbraith, Stuart (2012-08-27). "Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein) (Blu-ray)". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  14. ^ Erickson, Glenn (2014-09-28). "Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection 1931-1956 Savant DVD Review". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  15. ^ "Top Grossers of 1948", Variety 5 January 1949 p 46
  16. ^ "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  17. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs". American Film Institute. Retrieved November 21, 2020.

External linksEdit