Friday, September 09, 2011

Tonight's Movie: The Ghost Breakers (1940)

I'm not a big fan of spooky movies, but a spooky movie with laughs from Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard sounded just right for a Friday evening. THE GHOST BREAKERS proved to be fun entertainment, with a nice mixture of chills and chuckles.

Goddard plays Mary Carter, who inherits a haunted castle in Cuba. As Mary prepares to leave New York for Cuba one dark and stormy night, she meets radio broadcaster Larry Lawrence, who erroneously believes he's killed a mobster. Mary, Larry, and Larry's butler, Alex (Willie Best), sail for Cuba and the castle, where they must contend with ghosts, a zombie, and hidden treasure.

I really love Goddard, whose lively intelligence and game-for-anything personality both appear to good effect here. She's well teamed in her second film with Hope, who I find funnier when his comedy is toned down, as it is in the film; Hope plays a real character, rather than coming off as a comedian with an endless supply of one-liners.

They receive excellent support from Willie Best, who by rights should be billed third, rather than lower down in the cast. Best has great comic timing.

The supporting cast includes Richard Carlson, Paul Lukas, Anthony Quinn, and Tom Dugan.

THE GHOST BREAKERS runs a well-paced 85 minutes. The atmospheric black and white cinematography was by Charles Lane, and Goddard's fetching wardrobe was designed by the great Edith Head.

THE GHOST BREAKERS was directed by George Marshall, who made several other films with Paulette Goddard, including HAZARD (1948); he also worked on other films with Hope. Marshall specialized in comedies and Westerns. A few years later he made another spooky comedy, MURDER, HE SAYS (1945), starring Fred MacMurray.

THE GHOST BREAKERS has been released on VHS and has had multiple releases on DVD, including a 2003 release.

I watched a DVD which is part of last year's Bob Hope: Thanks for the Memories Collection. The print was somewhat soft but otherwise in good shape. The six-film DVD set includes the two other films Hope made with Goddard, THE CAT AND THE CANARY (1939) and NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (1941).

July 2020 Update: THE GHOST BREAKERS will be released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber in September 2020.

October 2020 Update: My review of the new Blu-ray is here.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Bob Hope guarantees laughs for me, especially when teamed with George Marshall. I think they were born with an extra funnybone.

2:06 PM  
Blogger monty said...

Oh I love this movie. Good choice Laura. Paulette and Bob made a great team and good support from Willie Best.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Robby Cress said...

This will have to be one that I add to my October build up to Halloween, spooky viewing. I love Hope, but haven't seen this film yet. Sounds like a fun fright.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks to all for the feedback! Hope you like it, Robby. My 13-year-old son says he thinks THE CAT AND THE CANARY may be even better than this one. Looking forward to checking it out!

Best wishes,

3:47 PM  
Blogger James Corry said...

"Ghost Breakers" also has one of the funniest political quips in any movie EVER made.....I won't spoil it by quoting it, but it's a zinger from Hope to Richard Carlson regarding "zombies" (for those of you who just "can't stand it", it's making the rounds on YouTube...)


6:14 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Brad, my son was so amused by that political quip he pulled it up on YouTube for me right after he saw the movie!

Best wishes,

6:29 PM  
Blogger Kevin Deany said...

James and Laura: If memory serves. Hope's "The Cat and the Canary" has a similar joke aimed at Republicans.

"The Ghost Breakers" is a gem and I love it. George Marshall is one of my favorite directors. I recently watched "Texas" with William Holden and Glenn Ford and found it hugely entertaining. I looked at Marshall's filmography and surprised at how many titles I've enjoyed over the yeas. But "The Ghost Breakers" is right at the top.

8:10 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

That's fun hearing that Hope spread his zingers around, Kevin! I hope (no pun intended, grin) to see THE CAT AND THE CANARY before too long.

I agree, there's a lot of fun titles in Marshall's credits. I recorded TEXAS some time ago, I'll have to add it to my "watch sooner rather than later" list. Thanks for mentioning it!

Have a great week!

Best wishes,

8:18 AM  
Blogger SentimentalJourney said...

Saw "The Ghost Breakers" the previous evening, and while Bob Hope and Willie Best did hit it off, comedically, I was very pleased with Paulette Goddard, not only in her pairing with Hope, but how she put her feminine charm to work wearing a bathing suit and being filmed in lingerie despite the Production Code of the period. Nice going, Mrs. Chaplin.

12:12 PM  

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