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The Canterville Ghost

USA 1944
produced by
Arthur Field for MGM
directed by Jules Dassin
starring Charles Laughton, Robert Young, Margaret O'Brien, William Gargan, Reginald Owen, Rags Ragland, Una O'Connor, Donald Stuart, Elisabeth Risdon, Frank Faylen, Lumsden Hare, Mike Mazurki, William Moss, Bobby Readick, Marc Cramer, William Tannen, Peter Lawford, Tor Johnson
screenplay by Edwin Blum, based on the story by Oscar Wilde, music by George Bassman

Canterville Ghost, American World War II Propaganda

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Sir Simon Canterville (Charles Laughton) was to fight the Bold Sir Guy (Tor Johnson) in a duel, but preferred to hide. His father (Reginald Owen), detested by his cowardice, had him walled up in his hiding place.

300 years later, Sir Simon still haunts Canterville Castle, codemned to do so until a Canterville commits an act of bravery in his name - fat chance though, with the Cantervilles all being utter cowards ...

Enter a platoon of American soldiers (after all, this takes place during World War II), who are assigned to stay in Canterville Castle for the time being - and they have nothing better to do than giving the Canterville Ghost the scare of his life.

6 year old Lady Jessica (Margaret O'Brien), the young owner of Canterville Castle, eventually makes friends with one of the soldiers, Cuffy (Robert Young), and finds out that he is a distant relative of the Cantervilles. She introduces him and the ghost to each other, and for Sir Simon's sage, he agrees to commit an act of bravery - which shouldn't be too hard in the war right? But once on the battlefield, he shows utter cowardice in the face of the enemy and almost gets his whole platoon killed.

Now, not only isn't Sir Simon relieved from his spell, Lady Jessica, his platoon and he himself are all utterly disappointed in him as well.

In the end, though, Cuffy sees a blockbuser bomb parachuting down over the area where his platoon is in a maneuver, and he is the only one who can save his men .. need I say it ends happily?

 

Oscar Wilde's satirical Canterville Ghost, turned into a piece of World War Ii propaganda - now that sounds like a rcipe for disaster, doesn't it. In all fairness though, the film isn't half bad, for the most part it's a comedy that's cute in a good way, a little too harmless maybe but not half as cheesy as it could have been. t's only the ending, when Cuffy finds his courage, that the film becomes high kitsch - and kitsch in a bad way -, but that doesn't hurt the film too much.

In all, it's good fun, but far from great.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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directed by
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written by
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