Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN


ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948). Director: Charles Barton.

Costello (to pretty Lenore Aubert): How can you look me in the face and say that?

Abbott (to Aubert): How can you look him in the face?


Abbott and Costello's greatest movie pits them against Dracula (played by Bela Lugosi for only the second time), who wants to transplant Lou's brain into the Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange) so he'll have a more controllable ally. Lon Chaney plays Larry Talbot, the Wolf Man, for the fifth time, and is better in this film than he was in the "serious" ones. Talbot knows what Dracula's up to, and wants the boys to help him stop the evil count. Aiding the count is Dr. Sandra Aubrey (Lenore Aubert), who pretends she's smitten with Lou to keep him -- or rather his simple brain -- at the ready. Charles Bradstreet plays an out-of-the-loop doctor-associate of Aubert's, and Jane Randolph is an insurance investigator who attaches herself to the boys in the hopes of finding out what happened to the contents of two coffins the boys delivered to a House of Horrors. (Frank Ferguson is very good as the angry, exasperated owner of the House of Horrors.) Glenn Strange is effective and even has a couple of lines as The Monster (who only spoke in Bride of Frankenstein and in Ghost of Frankenstein after Igor/Lugosi's brain was transplanted into his head). Vincent Price has a very funny cameo.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is not a parody a la Young Frankenstein so much as it's a Universal horror film into which the boys have been inserted. The guys do their amusing routines, while everyone else mostly plays it straight -- and it works! Funny, atmospheric, and creepy in equal measure, it has some genuinely suspenseful sequences and is bolstered by a terrific score by Frank Skinner. Bud and Lou are in top form and Bela Lugosi is simply splendid!

Verdict: Terrific horror comedy! ***1/2.

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