Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Abbott and Costello
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (which has the onscreen title Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein) is a 1948 American comedy horror film directed by Charles Barton and starring the comedy team of Abbott and Costello. It is the first of several films where the comedy duo meets classic characters from Universal's horror film stable. In this film, they encounter Count Dracula, Frankenstein's monster and the Wolf Man, while subsequent films pair the duo with the Mummy, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the Invisible Man. On a TV special in the early 1950s, the two did a sketch where they interacted with the latest original Universal Studios monster being promoted at the time, the Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). The film is considered the swan song for the "Big Three" Universal horror monsters – Count Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein's monster – although it does not appear to fit within the loose continuity of the earlier films.

The Plot:

Film opens with Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) making an urgent call from London to a railway baggage claim room in LaMirada, Florida where Chick Young (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello) work as baggage-clerks. Talbot tries to impart the danger of a shipment to the "McDougal House Of Horrors" to Wilbur. However, before he is able, a full moon rises and he becomes The Wolf Man and the call is disconnected. Wilbur, thinking the call is just a crank, continues on with his work day. Then, when the actual Mr. McDougal (Frank Ferguson) shows up to claim the shipment of crates containing "the remains of the original Count Dracula (Béla Lugosi)" and "the body of the Frankenstein Monster" (Glenn Strange). However, when Wilbur and Chick mishandle the crates, McDougal demands that they deliver them in person so an insurance agent can inspect them for damages.

When Chick and Wilbur get to McDougal's "House Of Horrors", they open the first shipping crate and find a coffin with "Dracula" inscribed on the front. Wilbur witnesses Dracula awaken when Chick is out of the room, but fails to get his attention in time. Dracula hypnotizes Wilbur and re-animates Frankenstein's Monster. McDougal then arrives with the insurance agent and Chick in tow. Finding the storage crates empty, McDougal accuses the boys of theft and has them arrested.

That night, Dr. Sandra Mornay (Lénore Aubert) receives Dracula and the Monster at her island castle. Sandra, a gifted surgeon who has studied Dr. Frankenstein's notebooks, has been posing as Wilbur's girlfriend as part of Dracula's scheme to replace the Monster's brutish brain with a more pliable one — Wilbur's.

Wilbur and Chick are bailed out of jail and mistakenly believe Sandra to be their benefactor. It is actually Joan Raymond (Jane Randolph), who is secretly working for the insurance company that is processing McDougal's claim, and hopes Wilbur will lead her to the missing "exhibits". Meanwhile, Larry Talbot has taken the apartment across the hall from Wilbur and Chick. He has tracked Dracula and the Monster from Europe and knows them to be alive. Talbot asks Chick and Wilbur to help him find and destroy Dracula and the Monster.

The next day, Joan Raymond comes to Chick and Wilbur's apartment and feigns love for Wilbur. Wilbur, not expecting the favor but embracing it, invites Joan to the masquerade ball that evening. That night, Wilbur, Chick and Joan go to Sandra's castle to pick her up for the ball. While the ladies powder their noses, Wilbur answers a telephone call from someone wanting to speak to a 'Dr Leighos'. It is Talbot, who informs them that they are in fact in the "House of Dracula". Wilbur reluctantly agrees to search the castle with Chick, and soon stumbles upon an underground passageway, complete with boat and dock. Meanwhile, Joan has discovered Dr. Frankenstein's notebook in Sandra's bureau and Sandra has discovered Joan's insurance company employee I.D. in her purse.

After the women re-join the men, a suavely dressed Dr. Leighos, (a.k.a. Dracula) descends the castle stairs and introduces himself to Joan and the boys. Also working at the castle is the naive Prof. Stevens (Charles Bradstreet), who questions some of the specialized equipment that has arrived. In private, Sandra admits that Stevens' questions, Joan's credentials, and Wilbur's curiosity in the basement have made her nervous enough to put the experiment on hold. Impatient, Dracula asserts his will by hypnotizing her, biting her in the throat, and making her his vampire slave.

At the ball, the boys encounter Talbot and McDougal just as Dracula and Sandra rejoin the group. Dracula, when confronted by Talbot, easily deflects accusations that he is "the real thing". While Dracula takes Joan for a dance, Sandra lures Wilbur to a quiet spot. Before she can move in and bite him, Chick and Larry approach and she flees. As they search for Joan, Talbot transforms into the Wolf Man. Wilbur escapes, but the Wolf Man finds and injures McDougal. Noting that Chick has brought a wolf mask as his costume to the ball, McDougal concludes that it was Chick who actually attacked him out of revenge. Chick manages to slip away, only to witness Dracula hypnotizing Wilbur. Chick is then also hypnotized and rendered helpless while Dracula and Joan bring Wilbur back to the castle. The next morning, Chick and Talbot agree to work together to rescue Wilbur and Joan.

While Wilbur is being held in a pillory, Sandra finally explains to him the plan to transplant his brain into the Monster. She and Dracula leave him to prepare the Monster for the operation. While Dracula gives the Monster electrical boosts in the lab, Sandra prepares to open Wilbur's skull when Talbot and Chick storm in. Talbot struggles with Sandra and casts her aside. Chick knocks out Sandra and just as Talbot is about to untie Wilbur, he once again transforms into the Wolf Man. Dracula flees, with the Wolf Man giving chase. Chick arrives to untie Wilbur just as the Monster, now at full power, breaks his own restraints and rises from his stretcher. Sandra attempts to order him back, but the Monster defiantly throws her out the lab window to her death.

Dracula, in an attempt to escape, transforms into a bat, but the Wolf Man snares him and both fall over a balcony to their deaths in the rocky seas below. Joan abruptly wakes from her trance, while the boys escape the castle and head to the pier with the Monster in pursuit. Wilbur succeeds in untying the boat, while Stevens and Joan arrive and set the pier ablaze. The Monster turns around and marches into the flames, succumbing as the pier collapses into the water.

Just as Chick and Wilbur relax, they hear a disembodied voice (provided by Vincent Price) and see a cigarette floating in the air. The voice says: "Allow me to introduce myself, I'm the Invisible Man!" The boys jump off the boat and swim away while the Invisible Man lights his cigarette and laughs as the final scene comes to a close.

1 comment:

S. Williams said...

Love this movie. really has it all