Gangsters chase a radio commentator to havana where he helps a woman with her haunted mansion. Studio: Uni Dist Corp. (mca) Release Date: 04/15/2003 Starring: Bob Hope Paul Lukas Run time: 82 minutes Rating: Nr Direc... more »tor: George Marshall« less
Who you gonna call? What about Bob Hope? He's only 100.
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 05/30/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bob Hope turned 100 today and the question was raised as to what movie of his should people try to see that is (a) pretty good but (b) not one of the standards like "Paleface" or the Road Pictures with Bing Crosby. My vote is for this 1940 film, "The Ghost Breakers?" The film is usually dismissed because it was just another one of haunted house comedies that were being produced right before World War II, but we are talking Bob Hope and that makes all the differences: Bob Hope being scared to death still makes me laugh, long after Lou Costello's similar routine grows stale. Having considerable hilarity going on before we even get inside the haunted house also helps the film. The plot of this 85-minute black & white comedy has Bob Hope as Larry Lawrence, a radio star who has made his reputation as a muckraker. Fleeing from a murder in a hotel he ends up in the trunk of Mary Carter (Paulette Goddard) who is on her way to Cuba, where she has inherited the haunted Black Island and its haunted Castillo Maldito. Once on the island, Mary runs into the charming Parada (Paul Lukas), her old friend Geoff Montgomery (Richard Carlson), and the scheming Mederos twins (Anthony Quinn and Anthony Quinn). Meanwhile, at the castle awaiting Larry and Mary are the Mother Zombie (Virginia Brissac) and her giant zombie son (Noble Johnson, who you might remember as the native chief in the original "King Kong"). Larry and his trusted valet Alex (Willie Best) go ahead to the castle to make sure everything is safe for Mary, at which point wackiness ensues. In contrast to the Road pictures Hope stays in character throughout the film and his romancing of Mary rings true. There is an earnestness to Hope's character that is missing from most of his comedies. Hope's wisecracks work even better because of this restraint. Meanwhile, Goddard reminds us that she knew how to compliment a first rate comedian and she certainly gets more laughs at Hope's expense than she ever got at Charlie Chaplin's (no surprise there). The biggest downside of this film is that it embraced black stereotypes throughout, mainly with Alex and the Cuban natives. Allowances can be made, more because despite Alex embodying the racist notion of blacks as slow (i.e., lazy) he usually is the one solving Larry's problems, than because the times constitutes any sort of an excuse. But even if I see some subversive elements challenge racial prejudice in this film, when Hope quips that he is going to have to paint Alex white to see him in the dark, it is hard not to cringe. That might be enough to stop you from wanting to watch "The Ghost Breakers," but I hope that it does not. The DVD has an okay featurette on Hope entertaining the troops during World War II, an excerpt from a command performance in 1944, and a short subject "Hollywood Victory Caravan." You also get the trailer and a collection of gallery stills from the production, which is enough to round the rating on this DVD up instead of down. The result is not a great film, but still a good one that I would put in the middle of a Bob Hope Top 10 film list. In fact, I just did."
SPOOKY AND FUNNY
Scott Barkley | Carmel,California | 12/08/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film is a follow-up to the Goddard-Hope comedy thriller "The Cat and the Canary" which they made in 1939. "The Ghost Breakers" was an even more successful venture for the popular comedy duo, they are quite ahead of their time in their sparkling performances. (The story had previously been filmed twice as silents in 1914 and 1922). Though really a comedy, this film has it's fair share of effecitively spooky horror scenes and it's directed with an atmospheric style by George Marshall. The haunted Cuban mansion is filled with creepy organ music and there is a room full of caskets! The balance between laughs and chills is expertly handled, making the film a pleasure to watch. Recommended."
A Fun Hope Film
Bobby Underwood | Manly NSW, Australia | 03/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A perfect blend of spooks and laughs make this one of Bob Hope's finest films. Bob battles ghosts, zombies, bats and killers in order to help lovely Paulette Goddard in a film full of atmosphere and situational humor. This unusual film has a little of everything and a lot of laughs.
Charles Lang's photography is outstanding and the score by Ernst Toch fits every scene, albeit romantic, comical or spooky. Based on a play by Paul Dickey and Charles W. Goddard, the screenplay from Walter DeLeon has more plot than usual for a Hope film, and a few unexpected thrills as well. Not to be overlooked as part of the reason for the film's success is a terrific cast of players surrounding our favorite coward.
A young Anthony Quinn, Paul Lukas, Richard Carlson, Virginia Brissac and William Best as Hope's pal and employee all help make this a screen classic. George Marshall's direction, often critisized by film historians, is excellent. Goddard, who never got enough good roles, shines here in more ways than one. Edith Head adorned the lovely Goddard in dresses nearly as pretty as the actress herself and the results are a sight to see.
Hope is radio personality Lawrence Lawrence. He dishes on crime activity in New York until Frenchie Duvall takes exception to one of his broadcasts and invites him up to his hotel room for a visit on a rainy night. Mary Carter (Paulette Goddard) is staying in the same hotel before heading to Cuba to claim the castle she's inherited. A man named Prada (Paul Lukas) handling the legal matters is acting suspicious and a phone call from Ramon Maderos (Anthony Quinn) trying to warn her to be careful doesn't ease her mind either.
Maderos gets shot at the same time Lawrence visits next door, Lawrence thinking he is the one who's killed him. His valet pal, Alex (William Best), gave him a .32, however, and Maderos was shot with a .38. Mary tries to hide Larry while the police search and before you know it Lawrence is in Mary's trunk and on a ship bound for Black Island. Alex follows to help out.
Mary meets Ramon's twin brother, Francisco, who has many questions about why his brother was murdered after trying to warn her. She also meets the friendly Geoff Montgomery (Richard Carlson) and a guy who keeps bumping into her at just the right time. Lawrence is romancing Mary in his usual fashion and decides to leave the ship bound for Havana in order to rid her castle of the spooks supposedly haunting it, not to mention the crooks after it. Once he and Alex head to Black Island the film switches gears and there are a few real chills and thrills.
Lawrence and Alex run into bats, ghosts and a zombie controled by its mother (Virginia Brissac). Lawrence keeps his head for the most part as he and Alex act as "ghost breakers" to save Mary. Lawrence discovers a painting of the beautiful Maria Sebastion who is the splitting image of Mary. There are a couple of coffins and a secret passage in the old castle, of course, and when Mary arrives, everyone aboard ship isn't far behind.
This is a fun and funny Hope film with a few thrills and a great cast. William Best is especially good as Hope's sidekick. This is a top-notch production with great photography and pacing. It covers a lot of genres yet never misses a beat. There is a great ending to cap the proceedings and this would be a good film for either a Saturday morning in bed or a rainy night. Don't miss this one."
Don't politicize this movie -- enjoy it!!
Bobby Underwood | 07/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not a Bob Hope fan at all, but this really is a good horror/comedy. The funny bits are funny, and the spooky ones are truly spooky, and I remembered much of it quite well from seeing it several times as a kid. Of course, Willie Best's role as Hope's 'colored' manservant is stereotypical, but it's also the best performance in the movie! As one reviewer says below, Best steals the show. Objections to racial norms of the 40's -- the use of the word 'colored,' the man/servant relationship -- based on 21st century "progressive" understandings of such things are silly exercises in anachronism, akin to faulting 19th century authors for not using so-called "gender-inclusive" language. Forget the political correctness -- just watch this movie and enjoy it!!"
Paulette, Bob, Willie, Spook fest & fun galore!!
Bobby Underwood | 03/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you like a little comedy, if you like it a little spooky, if you like some good lines, if you like atmosphere, if you like Paulette, if you like a ghost and a zombie and a great film, get this one as it has it all. Bob Hope plays a guy who thinks he killed someone and goes on a boat to Cuba with Paulette Goddard whose character inherits a spooky castle, ghosts and treasure. Enjoy!!! This DVD is excellent and well worth the money. I already have the vhs version too but love this film so much I wanted to buy the DVD. ... This is a great film."