What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions

Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies – Volume 102: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

  • Today’s Movie: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
  • Year of Release: 1948
  • Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney, Jr.
  • Director: Charles T. Barton, Walter Lantz (uncredited)

This movie is not on my list of essential films.

NOTE: This installment of Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies is not being done as part of a blog-a-thon. Instead, this is a monthly event hosted by MovieRob called Genre Grandeur. The way it works is every month MovieRob chooses a film blogger to pick a topic and a movie to write about, then also picks a movie for MovieRob to review. At the end of the month, MovieRob posts the reviews of all the participants.

For February of 2021, the honor of being the “guest picker” went to Amanda of Hollywood Consumer. The topic is “Horror/ Comedy Movies.”

The Story:

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein may very be the “granddaddy of them all” when it comes to films in this category. The story starts with two delivery guys for a package delivery company named Chick Young (played by Bud Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (played by Lou Costello). One day, Wilbur gets a call from London by Larry Talbot (played by Lon Chaney, Jr.). Talbot give Wilbur a “heads up” about two large parcels headed for Dr. McDougal’s House of Horrors. One is a coffin containing the remains of Dracula (played by Bela Lugosi). The other contains the dormant monster created by Dr. Frankenstein (played by Glenn Strange).

Talbot wants Wilbur not to deliver either package until he arrives. But before they finish their conversation, the moon rises and Talbot transforms into the Wolfman. Wilbur hangs up the phone just as Dr. McDougal (played by Frank Ferguson) arrives to inquire about his crates. Once Dr. McDougal has his packages and gets them delivered back to his House of Horrors, both monsters are brought back to life. Wilbur witnesses the revivals, but Chick does not.

But before that, Chick and Wilbur open the crate containing Dracula. When Chick leaves the room to retrieve the second crate, Wilbur is reading the legend of Dracula…which allows him to escape his crate. Wilbur is so frightened he is unable to call Chick for help. As mentioned earlier, Chick tends not to believe Wilbur’s “tall tales.” Naturally, when Chick returns he doesn’t believe Wilbur. As they open the second crate, there’s another reason for Chick to leave the room, during which time Dracula returns, hypnotizes Wilbur, and revitalizes Frankenstein’s Monster. Moments later, McDougal discovers his crates have been opened and the contents are missing in the second crate, so he has Chick and Wilbur arrested presumably as thieves.

Once Wilbur and Chick bail out of the slammer, two plot lines emerge; both involve women seducing Wilbur for ulterior motives. The set-up for these story lines starts when Talbot catches up to Chick and Wilbur after they get out of jail. Talbot tells them he has been following because of what was in the crates. They don’t believe Talbot; his insistence that he be locked in his room for fear of transforming into the Wolfman gives them cause to question his stability.

Everything begins coming together when Dr. Sandra Mornay (played by Lenore Auburn) is hosting a masquerade ball at her island castle home. She invites Dracula and the Monster on the premise she believes she has found a perfect donor for the brain they need to implant into Frankenstein’s Monster – Wilbur. In order to ensure his attendance at the ball, Mornay seduces Wilbur.

The complication comes in the form of Joan Raymond (played by Jane Randolph), who is an insurance investigator looking into McDougal’s claims of his lost “monster” exhibits. Like Mornay, she also feigns interest in Wilbur, but in her case it’s because she believes he knows the whereabouts of McDougal’s “monsters.” Joan thinks she’s hit the jackpot when Wilbur invites her to the ball.

Talbot phones Wilbur and tells him they are right on top of Dracula. Chick and Wilbur search the house and once again Wilbur sees the monsters but Chick doesn’t. While Chick continues his disbelief of Wilbur’s monster stories, Sandra discovers Joan is an insurance investigator. As such, she decides not to go through with Dracula’s plan, so her Dracula bites her…which transforms Sandra into a vampire under his control.

During the masquerade ball, Dracula hides in plain sight as himself, while Talbot’s fear about becoming the Wolfman becomes true. The classic “comedy of errors breaks out at this point; the costumes making for all the “mistaken identity” one could ever ask for. Talbot tries to attack Wilbur, but he ends up attacking McDougal, who believes he was jumped by Chick because he’s wearing a wolf mask. Meanwhile, Chick flees the scene while Dracula does the same with Joan and a hypnotized Wilbur. However, this is when Chick finally sees Dracula for himself.

The next morning, Talbot realizes he is the one who attacked McDougal. While he plans to turn himself into the authorities, Chick begs him for help rescuing Wilbur from the castle. McDougal gets wise to Dracula’s plan for Wilbur, but he and Sandra incapacitate McDougal. As they proceed with the operation to remove Wilbur’s brain, Chick and Talbot arrive to put and end to their plan.

The Hidden Sports Analogy:

Today’s hidden sports analogy is less about monsters and more about the legends that surround them. Nine decades after Dr. Frankenstein’s monster hit the silver screen, the big guy with the bolts in his neck is still a staple of all things “horror.” Children eight decades younger than that debut still spend Halloween in his likeness. The secret to his power of perseverance has less to do with being a monster, and more to do with his legend.

The sports world has a similar figure; a monster of a man whose legend took him from the rings of professional wrestling to a flirtation with the biggest stage in all of American sports, the National Football League.

Like any NFL franchise, over the course of their history the Washington Redskins Football Team have signed a myriad of free agents. Some worked…and some didn’t. But the most interesting was one that only almost happened. But if it had, it would literally been the largest free agent singing in the history of the NFL.

Andre the Giant didn’t fly “first class”…he occupied it.

In 1974, the then-World Wrestling Federation had a rising star and future legend on their hands. At the time, the WWF’s owner Vince McMahon, Sr. was counseling his rising star about his future as an attraction in the wrestling ring. Here was a man taller than only a handful of basketballers and weighed almost as much as two football players. But despite his massive size, André René Roussimoff was an exceptionally agile athlete; he even used a flying dropkick as one of his ring moves.

But the elder McMahon (the father of the sleazewad who currently runs World Wrestling Entertainment) knew that Roussimoff’s athletic prowess would decline with age…as it does with any athlete. As such, McMahon was looking for the long-term potential of Roussimoff as a giant in the world of wrestling. That meant he wanted Roussimoff to move away from the aerial circus moves to avoid the wear and tear on his gargantuan body; he could last for decades in wrestling being an “Eighth Wonder of the World” relying on his super-human strength.

Thus was born the legend of the “monster” of wrestling, “Andre the Giant.”

Andre the Giant with wrestler and former NFL linebacker “Chief Wahoo” McDaniel

But the very same athletic agility that made Vince McMahon, Sr. long for the down-range prospects for his giant investment also attracted the interest of the NFL’s Washington Redskins Football Team. To be fair, almost a half-century ago the “Football Team” was still the “Redskins,” but a historically shitty franchise by any other name still stinks.

Even bad franchises have “peak and trough” cycles, but 1974 for the Washington Redskins was one of the “peaks.” They were coming off a Super Bowl appearance in January of that year; it took the only team to go undefeated over an entire season in league history to beat them. They were a top-tier team at that time, but coming off that Super Bowl loss, the Redskins were looking for that one last piece to complete the championship puzzle.

The strength of the Redskins Football Team at the time was their defensive line…four large men who could wreak havoc on any offense by scattering their large men like they were so many toy soldiers. Keep in mind that in 1974, the definition of a “large man” in the NFL was somewhere in the neighborhood of 6’3″ and 250 pounds. At the time, Andre the Giant was nearly seven and a half feet tall and tipped the scales at well over 400 pounds.

Therein lies the attraction the Redskins Football Team had to Roussimoff. Hall of Fame coach (and nearly perfect doppelganger for Ronald Reagan) George Allen felt that adding to that strength was the that “last piece.” Together with personnel director Tim Temerario, they hatched the idea of adding Andre the Giant as a man who couldn’t be blocked and with his height could easily swat kicks out of the sky.

“After the draft, George Allen said he would like to sign someone unusual, maybe about seven feet tall. I had heard about this wrestler and traced him through Vince McMahon. When he told me how much Andre earned, I was a little bit put off. It would take a long time to get him ready, but I knew he was quick and had the agility to be a defensive tackle or end. We were interested, and I talked to Allen about it.”

~ Tim Temerario via WashingtonFootball.com

The Washington Redskins Football Team infatuation with Andre the Giant continued to the point of the team holding a formal press conference to make their interest the “Eighth Wonder of the World” public. Andre the Giant was there as well. Future Hall of Famer and Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Theismann also attended that presser and told quite the tale about what it was like meeting Andre the Giant.

“First of all when I shook his hand, I lost my arm. It’s the biggest hand I’ve ever seen, it’s the biggest head I’ve ever seen in my life. And he picked me up like anybody would pick up a baby. That was effortless. I just could not believe how big he was. I’m used to being around big people, [but] that’s big people.”

~ Joe Theismann via WashingtonFootball.com
Andre the Giant making the 6’0″ 200 pound Washington Redskins’ quarterback Joe Theismann look child-like

Obviously, the deal never materialized; Andre the Giant never set one his size 26 feet on an NFL field. Instead, he left that press conference in Washington to head back to New York where he had a wresting match that night at Madison Square Garden. The press hype got out of control, and became yet another example in the last half-century of the Redskins Football Team being the butt of a big joke.

Not to mention that big joke would have come with a price tag fit for a giant. At the time, Andre the Giant was a “headline act” in the world of professional wrestling night and as such was pulling in over $400,000 per year at a time when the average NFL player made about $56,000.

Even after his death, the legend of Andre the Giant lives on. In wrestling, his legend may fade as the number of fans who remember him dwindles. But like Frankenstein’s monster, André René Roussimoff was immortalized in film as “Fezzik” in 1987’s The Princess Bride. Rousimoff has a IMDB page which is surprisingly large, but the sheer number of wrestling documentaries which feature him is the true testament as to the scale of his legend.

The Moral of The Story:

Creating a legend is just as dangerous as creating a monster, especially if you lose control of either.

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About J-Dub

What your view of sports would be if you had too many concussions

One comment on “Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies – Volume 102: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

  1. ChrisHumpherys (@SportsChump)
    February 28, 2021

    Bud, Lou and Andre.

    All blasts from the pasts and larger than life, that’s for damn sure.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on February 27, 2021 by in Movies, Sports and tagged , , , , .

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