Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1937. Hal Roach Studios. Screenplay by Jack Jevne, Eric Hatch, Eddie Moran, based on the novel by Thorne Smith. Cinematography by Norbert Brodine. Produced by Hal Roach. Music by Marvin Hatley. Production Design by Arthur I. Royce. Costume Design by Samuel Lange. Film Editing by William H. Terhune. Academy Awards 1937.
The delightful comedy that inspired two sequels and a television series. Constance Bennett and Cary Grant are a wealthy society couple whose responsibilities are just momentary details in their days and nights of drunken carousing and joyriding. After a careless accident turns them both into ghosts, the fun only increases as they begin to hound a member of their bank’s board (Roland Young) in an effort to get him to loosen up a little. As we all know, being a visible ghost requires an exhausting use of ectoplasm (of course), so they frequently go invisible and give the special effects department opportunities to show off a remarkable amount of visual prowess. Topper Returns has a tighter plot, getting Young involved in a murder mystery, but film noir was nowhere near the minds of audiences at the tail-end of the Depression and the original film’s looseness makes it a sweet, breezy viewing experience. Bennett is the very picture of boozy class, and Young is charmingly befuddled throughout.