Author Topic: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man 1943 Promotional Mannequins  (Read 24200 times)

Toy Ranch

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Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man 1943 Promotional Mannequins
« on: November 20, 2011, 07:10:43 AM »
It's May of 1943, and the world is at war.  The United States has engaged Germany, Italy, and Japan on multiple fronts, from the Pacific Ocean to Africa, and of course in Europe.  Rationing is a daily way of life.  In December the previous year, only 6 months earlier, gasoline rationing was put into effect, and the average car was allowed 3 gallons per week. We're not talking about hybrids here, these were gas-guzzling machines.  Through the depression, the movie industry suffered hard times like most of the country, but during the war, a renaissance occurred.  With the exception of the gritty film noir genre, movies were uplifting and/or allegorical to the war effort.  The fate of our nation and the world was squarely in the balance.  The Normandy invasion was more than a year away, and the news from the front was not good.  There is no broadcast TV, families gather around the radio to listen, but images of war and images of other news can be seen at the local theater, along with cartoons and of course the feature. 

Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man was released 2 years after The Wolf Man.  It was the first of Universal's "monster mash ups" (some may argue that Bride of Frankenstein was the first, but that was a bit of a different animal than the others) that became popular during the war, and after.  It's a bit different than the others, because it has a storyline that makes some sense, rather than just being a sparse vehicle for getting as many monsters on screen as possible, that came later.  Nothing wrong with lotsa monsters, but this one was something of a bridge between the single monster movies and the mash ups.  It was thrilling, it was compelling, and the final scene is probably the most exciting classic monster scene of all.  Not the finest of films, but a favorite of many genre fans. 

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 19 Feb. 1943
 
Roosevelt meets Churchill at Casablanca, Yanks meet Japs at Guadalcanal--and yet these events will fad into insignificance to those seemingly inexhaustible legions of horror fans when they hear that FRANKENSTEIN meets the WOLF MAN.  Yay, brother!  This is the picture they've been waiting for and it's a nightmare, a symphony on the organ of doom with all stops out, with Moussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain" for a chaser.  The business it is going to do will be limited only by the seating capacity of the theatres in which it will play.


There was a lot of hype for this movie, and Robert Taylor told me of a teenage dance flick of the era that was very popular with teenagers and one of the stars of the movie, in a complete non sequitur, exclaims "Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man" in the middle of the movie, for no particular reason except to advertise it.  It was marketed to teenagers and young people.  (forget the "Adults Only" sign in the photo below, nobody who is actually 16 reads 16 Magazine either).

The theaters were decorated, and everything was set!  Allegedly (more about that coming) Universal took the step to contract J.H.Blecher Mannequins in Detroit to make Frankenstein and Wolf Man mannequins to send to some theaters for promotional purposes.  These plaster composition heads may be the first commercially produced monster busts.  They can be seen here, in a couple photos of an unknown theater, showing the movie.



And a hit it was!  Besides the monsters on top of the box office, look down and to the left to see a couple guys in makeup and costume!


Today, a pair of these mannequins still exist!  68 years old and showing their age, both heads and Frankenstein's hands made their way into my collection recently, where they will have a place of honor among their more recently made offspring. 





Frankenstein looks to have sustained a head wound, which was repaired but left him with a very odd left eyelid. 



The Wolf Man has light up eyes, and the cord is buried in the plaster, it wasn't something that was added later. 









The story I was originally told was that they were made by Mario's Mannequins, and the deal was that he was supposed to get them back.  I'm not sure where these were displayed, or how many were made, or how many were returned.  Actually, Mario bought the business in 1963, and didn't make mannequins, but only repaired them.  It's unknown if these were actually commissioned by Universal, or if any others were made.  The Frankenstein in the theater photos looks a bit different, as if that one was a re-purposed standard male head.  On the other hand, the grimace on the face is not like you would normally find on an advertising figure of any kind.  Some of the mannequins from that era had a melancholy look, having just been through the depression and now in the midst of a war that was going badly for the US, but a grimace would be a bit much for a figure designed to sell something.  Also, the head clamps are metal hooks of some sort inside the plaster, with just the tops showing.  As you can see, the Frankenstein sustained some damage along the way, and was partially repaired.  This repair was done on the same side as can be seen in the theater ballyhoo photos, so it could have changed a little from the original view.  It's also entirely possible that Universal had them made for certain theaters.  The pressbook for FMTWM makes no mention of them, but it would only make mention of items a theater could order, not items that were specifically sent to certain theaters. 

Mario kept a cache of vintage heads, and sold them off around the time he closed the business in the 90's.  I have been told that the person who got these from Mario is now deceased, and exactly when they were obtained is uncertain.  It's a game of "telephone" at this point, but it's possible that Mario disposed of other Frankenstein and Wolf Man heads years ago, and there were several of them.  It also could be that an enterprising theater owner had them made special for his theater, and the heads in the theater photos are the heads now in my collection, and were the only ones made. 

Notice the triangular scar on Frankenstein's face, from Bride of Frankenstein.





Here are some closeups from the theater photos.





The latest issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland (#258) has an interview with Don Post Jr.  He talked about the history of the company, and how his father got his start.  In the 1930's, during the depression, he had many different jobs, but one was at Silvestri's Mannequins, where he learned about slipcasting and took a sculpture class.  He quit Silvestri's in 1938 and started making masks for stage plays in New York.  As Don tells it, people in the audiences were interested in the masks, and he passed out business cards.  He took a couple dozen to Marshall Field's in Chicago, and they sold them all and wanted more.  When the war broke out though, rubber was all used in the war effort, and until it was available again, he went to work in a factory building airplanes.  Then in 1949, the first Don Post Studios Frankenstein mask was made.

Here is a Jack Nisi Frankenstein and a recast Wolf Man A from Don Post (I think there are maybe 1 or 2 originals still in existence.)



This thread is being made "live" simultaneously with a story Pierre wrote about them in his Frankenstinia blog.  More can be read about them here:

http://frankensteinia.blogspot.com/2011/12/discovered-ultra-rare-frankenstein.html

http://frankensteinia.blogspot.com/


Thanks to Adam Love, Robert Taylor, Dan Roebuck, Max "The Drunken Severed Head" Cheney, and Pierre Fournier for their invaluable assistance.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 10:02:09 PM by Toy Ranch »

Toy Ranch

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Re: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man 1943 Promotional Mannequins
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2011, 10:02:48 PM »
Bump!!!

Monsters For Sale

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Re: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man 1943 Promotional Mannequins
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2011, 10:53:58 PM »
Beautifully written, Bobby.  Great overall story with lots of fun background information about the time - In BOTH threads.  Hope someone out there will be able to identify the theater in the pictures.

Glad these wound up in the hands of someone who truly appreciates their historical value and will give them the love they deserve.



« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 10:59:53 PM by Monsters For Sale »
ADAM

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Re: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man 1943 Promotional Mannequins
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2011, 10:58:54 PM »
AWESOME!!!!
MONSTERNUTT.

jimm

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Re: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man 1943 Promotional Mannequins
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2011, 11:00:10 PM »
WOW great history! Love the old theater shots...

Gasport

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Re: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man 1943 Promotional Mannequins
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2011, 11:05:44 PM »
You really outdid yourself this time, Bobby..What an unusual and unexpected treat!  DAMN, I love this group!!

Toy Ranch

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Re: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man 1943 Promotional Mannequins
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2011, 11:10:28 PM »
In the theater shot with the crowd, you can see a Frankenstein and Wolf Man on the ground as well.



Danny Roebuck found a picture of those guys!



A mask?  or makeup?



Nice makeup job on Frankenstein!



Of course, Frankie got the girl.


Monsters For Sale

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Re: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man 1943 Promotional Mannequins
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2011, 11:17:27 PM »

Frankenstein's girlfriend is wearing a very Evelyn Ankers-looking dress.
ADAM

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Re: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man 1943 Promotional Mannequins
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2011, 11:33:33 PM »
Bobby, this is the best thread I've seen here in ages!
We're all here because we're not all there.
http://www.distinctivedummies.net/index.html

Gillfan

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Re: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man 1943 Promotional Mannequins
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2011, 11:38:10 PM »
It is always thrilling to discover a vintage item that you didn't know existed. Thanks for sharing this!

Minion

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Re: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man 1943 Promotional Mannequins
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2011, 11:39:41 PM »
In the 2 vintage close ups of the plaster figures, the wolfman appears to be wearing a mole people glove/hand of some sort on one of the hands. If so that would place these pics around 1956 or after?

Toy Ranch

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Re: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man 1943 Promotional Mannequins
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2011, 11:47:39 PM »
In the 2 vintage close ups of the plaster figures, the wolfman appears to be wearing a mole people glove/hand of some sort on one of the hands. If so that would place these pics around 1956 or after?


It does appear to be a leather glove with claws on it.

http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6220/6369215577_0645ce093d_o.jpg

It also looks a little like Freddy Krueger's glove, which would mean it was 1984.  ;D

The posters are from the original release, not the re-release in 1949.

Minion

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Re: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man 1943 Promotional Mannequins
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2011, 11:51:16 PM »
"FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN was re-released by Realart in 1949 and frequently ran in movie theaters right up until its appearance on TV as part of the SHOCK! program beginning in 1957."

Doesn't mean they couldn't use the original posters.

And it looks nothing like a Freddy glove so let's not be silly. That's a mole people hand

Toy Ranch

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Re: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man 1943 Promotional Mannequins
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2011, 12:02:41 AM »
You're joking, right?


Toy Ranch

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Re: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man 1943 Promotional Mannequins
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2011, 12:07:09 AM »
Were they having a "dress like it's the 40's" night, too?