Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein – Once upon a screen…
Anyway – production on Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein began on February 5, The film was originally titled, The Brain of. Amazon's Choice for "abbott and costello meet frankenstein" Note: Available at a lower price from other sellers that may not offer free Prime shipping. Watch Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein Full Movie Two hapless frieght handlers find themselves encountering Dracula the Frankenstein Monster and the.
ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948) (****)
On a personal note, I can attest to the fact that while growing up there were two classic film constants in my house — the only two my older brother and I agreed on — the Universal monster and Abbott and Costello.
If either of those was on it was must see TV! Well before the phrase was coined, I might add. You may have already noticed my indecision by the fact I post a few versions throughout this write-up. Universal went all-out in marketing this film and the gorgeous artwork used in all marketing material shows just how popular these characters and stories had become.
I also happen to be a sucker for poster art. The film was originally titled, The Brain of Frankenstein but it was changed to convey the message that the film contained comedy as well as horror — a combination many, including critics, fans and even the actors were a bit leery of. He paces over to the telephone and asks the operator if his call to the States has been completed yet.
Clearly, this is an urgent call. On the other end, in Florida, an employee of an express package delivery station answers the call, Wilbur Costello. While explaining, however, the full moon rises and Talbot turns into the wolf man.
As Wilbur hangs up, thinking Talbot called long distance to have his dog make growling noises into the phone, McDougal, the House of Horrors owner is waiting to see if his two crates have arrived. Classic Costello meets monster fare ensues. Whose brain do they intend to use?
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In order to put a stop to all the terrible plans, Talbot needs the help of Wilbur and Chick, all the while fighting his own demons and an ever-full moon. I must say poor Talbot, as far as monsters go, is quite the downer. Anyway, I think you get the picture. His is always a character that is in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are plenty of scares and opportunities for the wonderful, classic repartee that made Abbott and Costello such a hit during the golden ages of three mediums of mass communications — radio, movies and television.
But having all these monsters around who not only want to get at Wilbur but also hate each other — the Wolf Man and Dracula in particular — lends itself to grand mayhem and several frights as well whereby Wilbur and Chick run into a classic monster in every room of the castle.
One has to love the apparent demise of Dracula as well — trying to escape the pursuing Wolf Man, the Count starts to turn into a bat then out comes the Wolf Man, grabs a hold of the animal before it flies away and they both fall into the rocks and crashing waves below.
Meanwhile, The Monster continues his relentless pursuit of Wilbur and Chip who do all they can, in hilarious fashion, to evade being killed by the creature. He chases them out of castle where he meets his demise in an ending that rivals the best climax in any of the classic Universal horrors. Then just before the film ends, as the boys are trying to escape in a little boat, another monster appears.
A must mention — the gorgeous, classic horror film score by Frank Skinner in this film. A great deal of the humor rests on what the audience knows is true and what the other characters don't know. The more proof of the monsters Wilbur gets the more frustrated he gets at proving his claims to Chick and the others. Costello is a master at comedic aggravation. The same unknowing character humor is played well with Sandra and Dracula talking about liking Wibur's brains.
One of the surprising successes is moments that play to create tension also play as humor. A great example is when Talbot is trying to free Wilbur, looks out the window, sees the full moon and transforms into the Wolf Man. Wilbur's savior turning into a threat creates tension, while it also creates laughs.
The entire film works on this duality, which makes it special and compelling. Boris Karloff turned down Universal's request for him to play Frankenstein's Monster again, because he felt the parody would demean his other work. He is missed because Strange just doesn't have the same presence.
But he was wrong.
The Monsters are played straight, while the comedians provide the humor. This approach is why the film holds up. It never seems like it's mugging for laughs. This horror comedy mixes humor and horror so delightfully. The scares aren't what horror fans know as scares today, but it doesn't create tension.