Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Tagged: Film

Film (1948). Universal-International Pictures. Directed by Charles T Barton. Produced by Robert Arthur. Screenplay by John Grant, Robert Lees and Frederic I Rinaldo, using characters created by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and Bram Stoker. Cast includes Bud Abbott, Lenore Aubert, Charles Bradstreet, Lon Chaney Jr, Lou Costello, Bela Lugosi, Jane Randolph, Glenn Strange and Vincent Price (uncredited, voice only). 83 minutes. Black and white.

The first and probably best of several Universal films in which comedians Abbott and Costello are involved in high jinks with the studio's regular Monsters. Blue-collar workers Chick Young (Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Costello) are caught up in a plan by master-Vampire Dracula (Lugosi) to replace the brain of the Frankenstein Monster (Strange) with one easier to control – Wilbur's. Dracula is assisted in this scheme by a female Mad Scientist, the criminal surgeon Dr Sandra Mornay (Aubert), but opposed by Lawrence Talbot (Chaney) alias the Wolf Man (see Werewolves). After various chases and escapes, Dracula's castle and laboratory become the venue for encounters in which Frankenstein's Creature defenestrates the now vampirized Mornay, the Wolf Man battles Dracula until both apparently fall to their deaths in the sea, and Chick, Wilbur and the other human survivors escape in small boats as the Creature is left to perish on a blazing, collapsing pier. Finally The Invisible Man (Price) (see Invisibility) makes a guest non-appearance; terrified by his disembodied voice, Chick and Wilbur leap overboard and are last seen swimming for the shore.

The comedy works reasonably well and the script generally treats the monsters with respect. Though lightweight and piffling, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein establishes one historical landmark in the sphere of Women in SF: Mornay appears to be the first female Mad Scientist in Cinema. There have been many video and DVD releases. Further Universal films in similar vein, though less crowded with monsters, are Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951)and Abbott and Costello Meet Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1953; vt Dr Jekyll and Mrs Hyde). [GSt/DRL]

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