EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|GHOST BREAKERS, THE (director: George Marshall; screenwriters: Walter DeLeon/based on a play The Ghost Breaker by Paul Dickey and Charles W. Goddard/Walter DeLeon; cinematographer: Charles Lang; editor: Ellsworth Hoagland; music: Ernst Toch; cast: Bob Hope (Larry Lawrence), Paulette Goddard (Mary Carter), Richard Carlson (Geoff Montgomery), Paul Lukas (Parada), Willie Best (Alex), Pedro de Cordoba (Havez), Virginia Brissac (Mother Zombie), Noble Johnson (Zombie), Anthony Quinn (Ramon and Francisco Mederos), Paul Fix (Frenchy Duval); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Arthur Hornblow, Jr.; Universal Home Entertainment; 1940)|
|"Mixing laughs and
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This box-office smash Paramount movie was a follow-up to the Bob Hope-Paulette Goddard 1939 hit comedy chiller, The Cat and the Canary. It was the second of three Hope pairings with Goddard, and it was the third version of the creaky Old Dark House plot (there was one in 1914, another silent in 1922 and a fourth version in 1953 called Scared Stiff that starred Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis). Art director Hans Dreier created the fantastic eerie Gothic sets where zombies walked around in a creepy haunted castle, which gave this Hope pic a sense of real filmmaking. Director George Marshall ("Destry Rides Again"/"The Blue Dahlia"/"Advance to the Rear") directs with great skill mixing laughs and scares. It's based on the play The Ghost Breaker by Paul Dickey and Charles W. Goddard, and is written by Walter DeLeon.
Manhattan resident Mary Carter (Paulette Goddard) inherits from relatives a
"Castillo Maldito," located on Black Island, off the
coast of Cuba, and
awaits in her hotel to sail that night to Havana.
Meanwhile popular NYC
radio personality, Larry
Lawrence (Bob Hope), delivers a Walter
Winchell-like diatribe over the air
on gangster Frenchy Duval (Paul Fix), dishing out
too much dirt, and
receives a call from the gangster to meet him in his
hotel. Larry packs
a rod, for protection, he borrowed from his valet
Alex (Willie Best),
and accidentally fires off a shot when he's in the
corridor outside the
gangster's room as he hears gunfire in one of the
rooms. Thinking he
murdered someone, which turns out to be, Ramon
(Anthony Quinn), a sinister wealthy
Cuban who wants to
purchase the castle, Larry hides in Mary's room and
recognizes the radio man she believes his story.
When police come to
search her room, Mary allows Larry to hide in her
trunk. But the trunk
is placed on the steamer and Larry sails to Cuba,
accompanied by Alex,
through the courtesy of Mary. After coming out of
his trunk, Alex
informs the boss that he's innocent, as the police
said a bullet from a
different gun was responsible.
in Havana, Mary receives a voodoo death threat and
is warned by both
her sinister Cuban
lawyer adviser, Parada (Paul Lukas), and sinister recent acquaintance,
an occultist American living in Cuba, to
unload the haunted castle for cash would be her
wisest course. But
Larry, though a coward, is so smitten with the
feisty heiress that he
volunteers to be a "ghost
breaker," and with Alex rows that
night to the castle
and they confront a zombie, a disembodied voice, a
ghost and, finally,
a human killer trying to wrest the castle away from
there's a valuable silver mine underneath.
is one of Hope's finest films. It's well-executed
and the slight
one-liners might be as lame as Hope's jokes always
are, but because
this film has superior production values they don't
seem to be as
annoying as usual.
REVIEWED ON 6/25/2010 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ