Classic: Titles for ‘Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein’

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I could probably do a blog just about “Bud Abbott and Lou Costello meet Frankenstein.”

I mean a whole blog. Every entry.

But that would be monotonous, wouldn’t it?

So I thought I would do some research and write a little about the opening credits for the 1948 film.

You all know the story by now: Universal had teamed up most of its titular creatures before and, by 1948, decided to give them a humorous setting by combining them with vaudeville comics Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. The comic duo would go on to “meet” several monsters and monster types in several films that followed, and one of my personal favorites is “Meet the Mummy.”

But I wanted to note in particular “Meet Frankenstein,” in which they meet not only Frankenstein’s Monster but also Dracula and the Wolfman.

The movie is so much fun and not, as some would attest, denigrating to the classic creatures.

But I wanted to mention a couple of things that I either knew about the opening titles or found out recently.

First, I should note that I saw that illustration above online recently and I was stumped. I knew I had seen it, but where?

Then in watching the sequence recently – and I watch it every chance i get, including each of its many airings on Svengoolie – I was charmed all over again by the opening titles.

I wish I could know what went through people’s minds when they saw these titles for the first time in a theater. Since the movie came out well before I was born, I never saw it in a theater. I saw it first on TV two decades after the movie debuted, and it was probably on Indy horror movie host Sammy Terry’s show.

The titles perfectly capture the funny/creepy nature of the movie, maybe as well as any movie of its time.

The brief animated sequence not only establishes Abbott and Costello – through their skeletons – as scaredy cats but also establishes the creatures.

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First Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolfman.

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Then Bela Lugosi playing Dracula for only the second time.

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Then Glenn Strange as the monster.

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Then Lenore Aubert, whose character isn’t named in the titles but seems to suggest a svelte Bride of Frankenstein (which she is not in the movie, of course).

In looking up the opening titles on artofthetitle.com – which i can’t recommend too highly – i discovered that “Woody Woodpecker” creator Walter Lantz animated the opening titles. Further research indicates Lantz also animated the transformation of Lugosi’s Count Dracula to vampire bat form.

The titles are a piece of movie history, Universal monsters history and are perfect.

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