Saturday, October 31, 2020

Tonight's Movie: The Ghost Breakers (1940) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard star in THE GHOST BREAKERS (1940), newly released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

THE GHOST BREAKERS was released simultaneously with another spooky comedy starring Hope and Goddard, THE CAT AND THE CANARY (1939), which I reviewed earlier this month.

I first saw THE GHOST BREAKERS close to a decade ago, back in September 2011, and I'd forgotten just how much fun it is.  It made perfect Halloween Night viewing.

Vivacious Paulette Goddard is absolutely delightful as Mary Carter, who inherits a haunted castle in Cuba.

It's a dark and stormy night as Mary packs to sail from New York to Cuba.  Radio broadcaster Larry Lawrence (Hope) suddenly invades her room, on the run after mistakenly thinking he's shot a mobster.  (It's a long story...)

Mary, Larry, and Larry's valet Alex (Willie Best) are soon headed together to Cuba, where they will meet up with an assortment of characters played by Paul Lukas, Anthony Quinn, and Richard Carlson, not to mention ghosts and a zombie...

I'd honestly forgotten how enjoyable this film was.  The "spooky" stuff, which I don't particularly enjoy, had stuck in my mind, but I discovered on reacquaintance that those scenes are only about a third of the 85-minute movie.  

What comes before the "haunted house" section of the film is very enjoyable; in fact, some moments are laugh out loud funny.  There was a political joke I'd completely forgotten which was particularly hilarious to hear the weekend before a big election.

Hope and Goddard are well-matched; she's spunky and game for adventure, while he's a little more nervous but determined to protect the beautiful new lady in his life.  Hope strikes a good balance between letting loose with some good one-liners while still playing a "real" character who's a little more toned-down than he was in some of his later films.

They're matched by Willie Best, who has impeccable comic timing and, as I noted back in 2011, really deserved to be billed third.  He's terrific.

All in all, this film was a pleasant rediscovery for me, and I suspect viewers who don't share my aversion for horror scenes will like it even more than I did.

The supporting cast includes Lloyd Corrigan, Paul Fix, Tom Dugan, Pedro De Cordoba, Virginia Brissac, and Noble Johnson.

THE GHOST BREAKERS was directed by George Marshall. Like THE CAT AND THE CANARY, it was filmed in black and white by Charles Lang. Walter DeLeon's screenplay was based on a play by Paul Dickey and Charles W. Goddard.

Kino Lorber's good-looking Blu-ray print is from a brand-new 2K master.  The disc includes a new audio commentary track by Lee Gambin, a Trailers From Hell featurette with Larry Karaszewski, the trailer, and four additional trailers for films available from Kino Lorber; the quartet of trailers includes a trio of films with Hope or Goddard plus another comic spooky film, MURDER, HE SAYS (1945). 

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.

2 Comments:

Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Terrific review. George Marshall had a knack for comedy films and actors.

5:52 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you so much! I was reflecting on how many Marshall films I've seen in the last year or two -- lots of comedies and also lots of Westerns!

Best wishes,
Laura

11:24 PM  

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