Tag Archives: Robert Lees

Hold That Ghost

Directed by Arthur Lubin
Produced by Burt Kelly & Glenn Tryon
Written by Robert Lees, Fred Rinaldo & John Grant
Starring Bud Abbott
Lou Costello
Richard Carlson
The Andrews Sisters
Shemp Howard
Music by H.J. Salter Editing by Philip Cahn
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date August 6, 1941 (U.S. release)
Running time 85 min
Language English

Universal Australia are currently re-releasing a lot of their Universal classics onto DVD, but it seems that in this country anyway, they don’t want to release any of the classic Abbott & Costello movies of the 1940s. Before the end of the year some Laurel and Hardy films will be released (great) but no A&C. (Not even the classic A&C Meet Frankenstein) I am actually not entirely sure whether there have been any official A&C DVD releases in Australia, although I do know that Africa Screams is available on a cheap public domain DVD. It’s a shame as they are really good films.

Hold That Ghost is one of the earliest A&C films and their first foray into the comedy/horror genre that they would do to greater effect a few years later. One of the first things that I noticed with this film is just how abusive Bud is to Lou. There are occasions where he hits Costello with all the fervour of Moe Howard slapping Larry and Curly in the 3 Stooges shorts. It is quite uncomfortable to watch and I am glad that this element was toned down in later films as it doesn’t seem to have the cartoony humour of the Stooges. It just seems really mean.

It is a pretty funny film and it did provide quite a few laughs, although I found Lou to be a tad more annoying than he is in later films. Here he is a man/child rather than a proper, well defined character. I guess as this was just the third film that Abbott & Costello (but fourth released) made they were still honing their screen personas, even though they had been working together on the vaudeville circuit for many years. He also does that annoying whistle thing that Warner Bros. Babbitt and Catstello always parodied. Otherwise he does have a few golden moments, including the famed candle sequence and is quite funny.

It should be noted that Shemp Howard, one of the 3 Stooges appears briefly in this film as a bartender. He doesn’t really do anything of note but it’s always interesting to see Shemp pop up in non-Stooge films. This was in the years when Shemp was trying to make it on his own and Curly took his place in the Stooges. (Although Shemp would replace Curly a few years later after Curly’s stroke) He’s also in W.C. Fields’ The Bank Dick.

I enjoyed the film a lot and wish that this and other A&C comedies would be officially released in this country onto DVD. They have been released several times in the USA so it’s not that difficult for Universal Australia to do (hint, hint).

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Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein

Directed by Charles Barton
Produced by Robert Arthur
Written by Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo & John Grant
Starring
Bud Abbott
Lou Costello
Lon Chaney, Jr.
Bela Lugosi
Glenn Strange
Music by Frank Skinner
Cinematography Charles Van Enger
Editing by Frank Gross
Distributed by Universal Studios
Release date 15 June 1948 (US)
Running time 83 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein was one of my favourite films as a kid. It was a film that I found to be both scary and funny in equal parts. I really loved this movie so much that I just had to order it from Amazon because I could not find it for sale anywhere in Australia, and I desperately wanted to see it again. I just wanted to know if the film held up as well now as it did back when I was a kid.

I popped the DVD disc into my Sony DVD player the other day and found that the film really lived up to my expectations. Whilst I no longer find the film as scary as I did as an eight year old there were still a few heart pounding moments, especially the scene when Lou is unknowingly being stalked by the Wolfman in the hotel room. (See picture below) Also, like most seventy year old comedy films, the humour has dated quite a bit, but there are still a few chuckles to be had, especially the look of fright on the Frankenstein Monster’s face when he first lays his eyes on Costello. It’s funny to see the Monster being so afraid as someone as harmless as Lou.

It is probably true that this film was probably the beginning of the downward spiral in A&C’s popularity even though they did have a few box office hits after this film. Their popularity really waned as Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis became the #1 Hollywood comedy team, and A&C started to go back to the same ideas again and again (ie; going back to the team ups with Universal’s monster icons). They really weren’t known for their innovation, especially as they really only liked to use gags and routines that they had honed to perfection by performing them thousands of times on the vaudeville circuit. Still A&C Meet Frankenstein is a classic and a movie that I recommend for anyone who likes both classic comedy and classic monster movies.