Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein: Ten Things To Know About The Movie

Here are 10 trivia facts about Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein from 1948, which originally appeared as our Mystery Movie Quiz on our Facebook page. There are hundreds of pieces of behind-the-scenes information about this movie. Please feel free to comment and add more trivia we might have missed.

1. This movie spans multiple genres.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (or, if you want to go by the film’s opening titles, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein) is most certainly a comedy, but it is also a horror movie and fits very nicely into the science fiction genre, as well.

2. The name of the film is a misnomer.

Does anyone in the movie ever actually meet Frankenstein? To be technical, Bud and Lou do encounter Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, and over the years, it has become common practice to call the monster after his creator, although it isn’t really correct. The original working title, “The Brain of Frankenstein,” would have been just as misleading.

3. A noted cartoonist had something to do with the film.

The scenes where Count Dracula is shown on screen as a bat–and the ones where he changes from Dracula to bat and vice versa–were done by none other than Universal-International’s favorite animator, Walter Lantz, who made lots of money for the studio with his Woody Woodpecker cartoons.

4. It was among the year’s highest-grossing films for the studio that released it.

Due to its popularity, it should come as no surprise that Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was the second-biggest moneymaker for Universal-International in 1948. Other key U-I releases that year included All My Sons with Edward G. Robinson and Burt Lancaster; the crime melodrama The Naked City; the Civil War saga Tap Roots; and Deanna Durbin’s screen swan song, For the Love of Mary…do you know what film took the top spot?

5. The director’s first film was a Zane Grey western.

Charles Barton, who helmed nine Abbott and Costello vehicles, made his directing debut with a Randolph Scott oater, Wagon Wheels, in 1934. In addition to more than 60 feature films, he was also the director of a multitude of crowd-pleasing TV series, including 52 episodes of The Amos ‘n Andy Show, 90 Dennis the Menace shows, 37 installments of Petticoat Junction, and over 100 episodes of Family Affair, plus lots more.

It’s probably not very well known, but Lou Costello initially balked at doing this movie. When he read the script, the funnyman supposedly said, “No way I’ll do that crap. My little girl could write something better than this.” So, what changed his mind? The blow was softened by a $50,000 salary advance but the kicker was when he heard Barton would direct. Charles was his good friend and favorite director. Eventually, as filming progressed, Costello actually became a fan.

6. A museum plays a role in the film.

Florida baggage handlers Chic Young and Wilbur Grey (Bud and Lou, respectively) mistakenly mix up two large boxes headed for McDougal’s House of Horrors Museum. When the suspicious-looking crates aren’t delivered as expected, the museum owner insists they be brought over personally for inspection by his insurance company. When Mr. McDougal brags about his new exhibits as being the actual remains of Count Dracula and the real Frankenstein Monster, the story (and the laughs) get under way.

7. Three of the stars played the same roles in other films.

Bela Lugosi has been known the world over as Count Dracula since he first appeared in the role on the stage and then in Universal’s Dracula (1931). Regardless of how many other actors played Dracula, it is Lugosi who immediately comes to the minds of film buffs. Oddly enough, with all the times Lugosi portrayed vampires in his films, 1948’s Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was the first feature since 1931 in which Bela was the undead Count, and it would prove to be the last. Those other roles that made it seem like he was playing Drac but wasn’t are: Mark of the Vampire (1935), The Return of the Vampire (1943) and Old Mother Riley Meets the Vampire (1952).

Lon Chaney, Jr. first started as lycanthrope Larry Talbot in 1941’s, and howled his way through three scare-filled sequels over the next few years: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943), opposite Lugosi as the Monster; House of Frankenstein (1944); and House of Dracula (1945). In his Universal career during the ’40s, Lon also played some of their other most successful monsters, including Count Dracula in Son of Dracula; Kharis the Mummy in three Mummy films; and even the Frankenstein Monster himself in The Ghost of Frankenstein. And a broken ankle suffered by actor Glenn Strange, after tripping on a camera cable during the shooting of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, gave Chaney an opportunity to double as the monster one more time (he can be seen throwing co-star Lenore Aubert through a window) while Strange recuperated.

B-western regular Strange had previously stepped into the over-sized boots of Dr. Frankenstein’s creation in both House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula, before his appearance in this movie.

More trivia: This was the last time for over 50 years that Universal made use of the talents of Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s Monster all in one movie. Not until 2004’s Van Helsing would the terrifying trio show up on screen for the studio again.

8. Two women vie for the affection of one of the lead characters in the movie.

Both the villainous Aubert as Count Dracula’s partner in crime Dr. Mornay and Jane Randolph as sweet Joan Raymond are interested in Lou Costello’s bumbling railway station clerk Wilbur Grey. But, truth be told, each of these gals has ulterior motives in their interest–Dr. Mornay, a talented surgeon, only wants Wilbur’s brain to be used in a scientific experiment with the Frankenstein Monster, while Joan is really investigating an insurance claim concerning the missing museum exhibits. Incidentally, Randolph was a last-minute replacement for actress Ella Raines, who unexpectedly backed out when filming got under way.

9. The film is listed as one of AFI’s top movies.

The American Film Institute created their 100 Years… 100 Laughs in 2000, seating Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein at #56. In a similar tribute, Reader’s Digest Magazine chose it to be among the top funniest movies ever made.

10. The two main stars appeared in many movies together.

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello starred in 35 feature films together, from their screen debut in 1940’s One Night In The Tropics to their last in 1956, Dance With Me Henry. Of those movies, 28 of them (not counting the 1954 Spike Jones comedy, Fireman, Save My Child, which was to star Bud and Lou until health problems forced the duo to drop out–they can still be glimpsed in long shots) were made for Universal. All of this is in addition to more than 50 episodes of their popular 1952-54 TV series, The Abbott and Costello Show.

And now, enjoy the theatrical trailer for Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein from 1948:

  • Grand Old Movies

    A&C Meet Frankenstein is no doubt the team’s funniest, and best, movie

  • Blair Kramer.

    I too enjoy “Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein” very much. It is probably A and C’s best film. It’s certainly one of their funniest. However, I think it has at least one major sequence that is very much out of place. Even though the monsters are constantly threatening all kinds of mayhem and bodily harm, no one really gets hurt. Certainly, nobody dies. That is until Lenore Aubert (more likely, her stunt double) gets thrown through a plate glass window to her supposed death by the Frankenstein Monster! I realize that the character portrayed by Ms. Aubert was a villainess, but this kind of violence is more than a little jarring in an otherwise light hearted film. In my opinion, it just doesn’t belong. But I would like to relate a story I heard about this film many years ago. When Bud and Lou are trying to bar a door against the Frankenstein monster, Glenn Strange punches through the door and accidentally hits Lou in the temple! It’s been said that Lou was instantly knocked cold! And in fact, that very take is the one that was used in the film! And I think that it’s probably true. If you watch that scene, Lou looks very much as though he was just knocked for a loop!

  • Hank Zangara

    I wonder if Walter Lantz also did the bat-to-Dracula animated transformation near the climax of the film?

  • karl sonny lachner

    ANOTHER GREAT COMEDY BY BUD AND LOU AND ONE OF THEIR BEST…I FIRST SAW IT IN MY NATIVE STATE OF NEW JERSEY IN 1948…I SAT THRU IT TWICE THAT DAY, I LOVED IT THAT MUCH…BOTH BUD AND LOU WERE FROM MY HOME STATE…LOU WAS FROM PATERSON, N.J. AND BUD WAS FROM I BELEIVE ASBURY PARK….LOU IN A NUMBER OF THEIR PICTURES ALWAYS MENTIONED PATERSON IN CERTAIN MOVIES THEY MADE TOGETHER….I AM GLAD TO SAY I HAVE ALMOST EVERY MOVIE THEY MADE IN MY CLASSIC MOVIE COLLECTION…ONE OTHER GREAT PICTURE THEY MADE THAT I HAVE IS “THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES” THAT IS WHEN LOU AND LOVELY MARJORIE REYNOLD…ARE REVOLUTIONARY WAR GHOSTS WHO HAUNT DANBURY MANOR AND SCARE THE LIKES OF BUD…JOHN SHELTON…BINNIE BARNES AND GALE SONDERGARD ETC.I REALLY RECOMEND THIS GREAT COMEDY WHEN BUD AND LOU WERE AT THEIR FUNNIEST ETC….IF YOU DON’T OWN IT RENT IT, YOU WON’T REGRET IT…30….

  • mike jaral

    the very first horror movie I saw as a kid. my mom told me not to go, but all the kids went, so I did. jackson park movie theater on the south side of chicago. I was 8 years old. it stands out in my mind. when the coffin opened up and frankinstein lifted up, kids in the theater went screaming down the isle. I was not one of them, but left shortly after that. I have NEVER been a fan of horror movies after that first experience. I don’t ever watch them. this was no comedy to me, or to most of the kids in the show. I watch it now but with great anticipation of him coming out of that coffin.of course I watch it all the way through now, without having bad dreams. that one movie ruinned my outlook on all horror movies forever.

  • JIM RICK

    I SAW THIS IN 1948 WHEN I WAS TEN AND RECENTLY ON TV…..LOVED IT BOTH TIMES…AND I AM NOT A A&C FAN….JUST THE WHOLE, GREAT COMBINATION MADE IT A SUPERIOR PICTURE……AND I RECENTLY READ THAT IT CAME AT A TIME WHEN A & C WERE LOSING THEIR POPULARITY….

  • Rob in L.A.

    Universal’s top movie in 1948: I think I remember reading somewhere that A&CMF came in second for the studio after the Deanna Durbin picture.

  • Bob VanDerClock

    Some of A & C’s later films suffered from totally lethargic, basement-budget scripts but luckily this first one of their “monster” series, did not….a well done piece from Barton, their always-director of choice, great pacing and as good a horror/comedy as you’ll find anywhere….the trivia piece about Lon C. Jr. being the Monster briefly, subbing for the injured Glenn Strange, is a nifty piece of info. that almost equals ….who played the Frankenstein monster for his ONLY time in 1943’s “Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman”?…none other than Bela Lugosi.

  • Richard Finn

    In April 1953, I was in Chicago awaiting my train connection to take me to Tucson, AZ. With hours to kill, I headed down to State St. to see a movie. One was showin A&C Meet Frankenstein, I had to stand in line in a crowd for an hour to get in. This was 5 years after the movie was made.

  • Ludy Marvin Wilkie

    I have heard that they had a real problem filming the scene in the castle cellar where Lou Costello sits on the monster’s lap. Actor Glenn Strange kept breaking up laughing!
    Glenn Strange later played Sam the Bartender on the TV series GUNSMOKE.
    Lon Chaney Jr. appeared both as Wolfman and briefly as monster in this film, and also THE HOUSE OF DRACULA. Sources report that at the end of the film, in the laboratory scene where the monster is destroyed, producers dubbed in the final scenes of GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN, in which Chaney played the monster.
    It is interesting to follow the career of Lenore Aubert. Didn’t she return to Europe?

  • jim Santiago

    A & C Meet Frankenstein: The scene where Dracula bites Dr. Mornay, the vampire can be seen in the mirror!! Vampires cast no reflection!!

  • BRIAN

    My favorite line
    Were pals,right?
    Bud
    Yes
    Lou
    If you had two hats,youd give me one?
    Bud
    Yes
    Lou
    If you had two cigarettes,youd give me one?
    Bud
    Yes
    Lou
    You got two girls.
    Bud
    Put on your hat,light up a cigarette,and go take a walk.
    Lou

  • illya blue

    Great film-Strange does seem to smile a little in that scene,as I remember.As for Lugosi’s turn as the monster,I think the double did a lot of the scenes in that movie as Lugosi was too frail at that time.

  • Pat

    Comedy and horror are perfectly blended here. What makes this film work so well is that the three “monsters” play it straight–even in the context of a comedic scene. One big blunder: We see Dracula’s reflection in the mirror as he bites Dr Mornay.

  • JH West

    This was the first horror /comedy movie I know of, and the first I ever saw. It was more horror than comedy, but as a kid, the comedy made it easier to watch. It is still a very good movie, and is the best of the Abbott & Costello movies in my opinion.

  • James Sedares

    Love the movie, but it’s sad to see the “New” Universal makeup in the mediocre Westmore tradition. Poor Jack Pierce was unceremomiously shown the door after House of Dracula. A real pity, and it shows in the all the famous monster’s makeup in the A&C picture. Pierce “created” the look for all of the classic Universal monsters.

  • Anna Prokop

    For me, it’s a toss up between A & C Meet Frankenstein and the movie Time of Their Lives. Unlike other movie favorites, I don’t
    doze when I watch these two movies. I enjoyed Lou getting the
    better of Bud in “The Time of Their Lives”.

  • Steve Edwards

    I understand that Boris Karloff was asked to play the Frankenstein Monster again. However, he refused due to the comedic nature of the film. I don’t know how true that story is; but I heard that somewhere.

  • Chuck Neumann

    An excellent film, works as a horror and a comedy film. Lon Chaney did real good work in this film and his scenes with Lou were great.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1310635021 Scott Wannberg

    the great guitarist Jerry Garcia told either AMC or TCM this was the movie that “changed his life”

    i myself recall it airing on my local station in l.a. every halloween when i was tiny enough to actually go out trick or treating

  • ed cohen

    Undoubtedly, “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” is one of Lou’s and Bud’s best. I always go back and forth between this film and “Hold that Ghost” for my #1 favorite film of theirs. “Buck Privates” I don’t think is a great film, except as a superb piece of propaganda for WWII, but it has so many great routines( dice game, forty year old man with ten year old girl. Could you imagine the controversy over this routine if it was done in today’s ultra sensitive times?)

  • ed cohen

    I think my favorite scene is when Lon Chaney, who hams it up beautifully throughout the entire film is during the Halloween party when Lon says to Lou: “You and I have a date with destiny”. And Lou says: “Let Chic go with destiny. Please”. Chic meantime is in the locker, off camera and you just hear him speak. Great direction by Barton.

  • Bruce

    You’re wrong! It wasn’t the first time in fifty years for the three monsters in 2004’s Van Helsing.

    It was Frankenstein, Wolfman, And Dracula in the “Monster Club” made in the 1980’s.
    Nothing can compare to A&C Meets Frankenstein. I watch it once a year on Halloween.

  • kathryn markley

    I loved this movie from the second I first saw it. Abbott and Costello were the greatest. Then came Dean and Jerry.

  • John Stanton

    This is the only horror film that scared me as a kid. I watched all the Frankenstein, Wolfman and Dracula films in the theater, and none really scared me. “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” did. I think it was because I really cared about Bud and Lou (especially Lou). They were my favorite comedy team, and here were these monsters threatening them. I took it personally.

  • Classic Movie Lover

    My brother and I used to watch Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein everytime it played as the Million Dollar Movie. The movie would play Sunday thru Saturday playing twice on Saturday.

    The only movie we watched like that was Damned Yankees.

    Goodness am I old or what? :-)

  • BadGnx2

    I remember watching this film as a child in Chicago on channel 9 (WGN). Back then I thought it was scarey and funny at the same time.
    As time has gone on and I can look at movies in a more analytical and critical vein, I can honestly say that the movie I saw as a child is EVEN better as an adult.

    This was easily Abbott and Costello’s best film – BY FAR. Probably their ONLY true classic. Universal pulled out all the stops on this one and it showed. To use their classic monsters in such a comic vein was TRUE GENIUS. This was the blueprint for the comedy/horror film such as “Ghostbusters”, “Ghostbreakers”, “Young Frankenstein” and many others.

    And Abbott and Costello rose to the occasion by delivering their very best performances on film.
    And to even have Vincent Price make a cameo was GENIUS.

    This is a SUPERIOR film that time has only enhanced. It can be enjoyed by generations to come.

  • ed cohen

    Anybody remember the A & C movies on channel 11 in New York on Sunday mornings. They ran from 11:30 to 1:00. I came home from a Sunday morning bowling league I belonged to and got home about 12:15 to catch the rest of the movie. Of course, they were edited and the beginning of the movie made no sense to me. But with DVD’s, we don’t have to worry about that anymore. It’s a pleasure to watch A & C the way it was meant to be. I wish Turner Classic Movies would show more of them.

  • maxfabien

    My favorite line from A&C Meet Frankenstein is:
    Talbot: Every night when the moon is full, I turn into a wolf!
    Wilber: You and 40 million other guys!

  • WT

    Abbott and Costello Meet the Frankenstein is indeed their funniest collaboration. The first time that I watched the Universal monsters, they scared me (I was six). Since then, they have become quite comical to watch unlike the modern vampire, werewolf, and Frankenstein monster movies. They are so graphically nasty that they make me nauseous. I love ALL of the Abbott/Costello movies, but this is one that I can watch over and over again.

  • arth

    Saw it in on a Saturday matinee in Sept.1948 with Chapter 1 of Superman. My life was never the same.
    Thank you all my old friends in the sky cinema.

  • hockeyguy

    I agree with Maxfabien’s comment and often like to refer to it as one of the greatest comebacks in any movie. I probably saw it when I was 7 or 8 and I got the humour right away…

  • Rubenr721

    I am now 42 years old. I probably first saw this movie before I was ten years old. I finally own this movie on video tape. It’s still one of my true favorite movies of all. When I’m old and grey it will still make me laugh.

  • Rubenr721

    My favorite scene in this movie was when Wilbur sat on Frankensteins lap in the dark dungeon. The way he froze when he looked up and saw the monsters face, could only be done by Lou Costello!

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