Mary Carter inherits her family’s ancestral home, located on a small island off Cuba, and, despite warnings and death threats, decides to take possession of the reputedly haunted castle. She is joined by radio broadcaster Larry Lawrence who, believing he has killed a mob gunman, flees New York with his butler, Alex. Once on the island the threesome enter the eerie castle and after viewing the ghost of one of Mary’s ancestors and fighting off a menacing zombie, they find the key to the castle’s treasure but are interrupted by an all-too-human foe.
Doug Sederberg <[email protected]>
User Reviews: The Ghost Breakers is a sort of sequel to Paramount’s 1939 hit "The Cat and the Canary", also starring Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard. Directed by George Marshall (who would direct the Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis 1958 remake, "Scared Stiff", as well) it’s adapted by Walter DeLeon from the play "The Ghost Breaker" by Paul Dickey and Charles W. Goddard. The premise is simple, after mistakenly thinking he has shot a hoodlum type, Larry Lawrence (Hope) flees into another hotel room, that of Mary Carter (Goddard), who is packing for a trip to Cuba. Befriending her, it’s not before long that Larry is on his way to Cuba as well, but Mary is under threat from shifty characters and to make matters worse, their destination castle is rumoured to be haunted and tales of zombies seem to carry some weight.
Hope and Goddard really do have a rich chemistry here and the results are excellent to say the least. They would work again for a third time a year later in "Nothing But the Truth". But really it’s with the writing that most credit is due here. Hope of course was an excellent deliverer of a line, but first you have to have quality lines to work from, and here with DeLeon’s screenplay we get some delightful stuff for Hope to work with. From Basil Rathbone to sly political leg pulling, the gags come quick and fast and compliment the visual fun as Hope, Goddard and Willie Best are all aboard the fun creeper express. Charles Lang is on photography duties and captures the eerie atmosphere of the island perfectly, while a nod of approval should go to Edith Head for her costumes.
Ultimately it’s fun we want and fun we get, with a cowardly hero and a sexy leggy lady as our protagonists, one can only hope that the zombies don’t get in the way too much. As either a stand alone movie or as a double bill with "The Cat And The Canary", "The Ghost Breakers" showcases a fine double act from a fine time in cinema history. Enjoy 7.5/10