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The Ghost Breakers

23 Feb

The Ghost Breakers – directed by George Marshall – Comedy Mystery Thriller. That haunted island castle in the Caribbean must be explored! 82 minutes Black and white 1940

* * * * *

Bob Hope plays his usual boastful fool, and it is quite welcome. Here again he is sexually overreaching and heroically underachieving, floundering into shallows over his head. Hope is a master at the lecherous coward, (also played by Danny Kaye and Jerry Lewis and Charlie Chaplin and many others). No wonder he appealed so long to so many. In real life, evidently Hope was quite intrepid, going into battles zones to entertain the troops, but intrepidity and cowardice go hand in hand, else one would not know one from the other. I saw this picture as a little kid when it came out and the recollection of a woman side-stroking through swampy misty water holding her clothes over her head to keep them dry never left me as an example of practicality under pressure. Also the spooky castle remained with me and gave me nightmares. So did the zombie, my first in film. All these effects now have lost their power; thus the questionable practice of revisiting the past. Ahh, but the film still has its power to entertain. Its effects are low key and innocent but they give us a chance to recover from each while the next one waits in the wings. The film was re-made many years later with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, with the same director and the same sets, but this is by far the better version. Paulette Goddard, she of the dimples, is excellent here. Male or female, every actor who has dimples is a minx, and she sure is. Goddard was one of the brightest women in Hollywood, highly respected as a person, but everyone agreed that she could not act worth tuppence. I don’t know why. Here she’s good, attentive, game, unapologetic about taking off her clothes a couple of times — a good-time gal with a deep resource of pep and very convincing as a brash lass, up against Anthony Quinn at his most sexually dangerous, and adventuring into the haunted castle against all warnings. Go with her. You will be so pleased to be petrified. .

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