Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Ghost Breakers


(1940)

When Mary Carter travels from New York to Cuba to see a “haunted” castle she recently inherited, she is unexpectedly joined by stowaway Larry L. Lawrence (the middle initial stands for Lawrence: "My folks had no imagination") who is on the run from the mob due to a mistaken identity plot that only occurs in the movies (and Three’s Company). Before too long the duo are confronted with shady characters who want the castle for themselves as well as ghosts and even zombies. Will Larry’s one-liners save them from peril?



In my search for horror movies I typed the word “ghost” into the Netflix search engine and out popped The Ghost Breakers. I must confess that Bob Hope’s appeal has always eluded me. Then again I never understood the appeal of George Burns or Jerry Lewis either. While watching The Ghost Breakers I realized that I had never seen young Bob Hope before. By time I was aware of Hope (1970s) he was already in his late 70s, which is why I’ve always associated him with shitty television specials and his famous appearances to entertain our troops with bad vaudeville.



Although The Ghost Breakers didn’t make me a Bob Hope convert, I better appreciate the iconic status he enjoyed throughout his life. His appeal appears to be his ability to project a “regular guy” persona while always having the perfect comeback to an insult or his quick wit observational one-liners to whatever jam he’s gotten himself into. Like other horror/comedies that were apparently all the rage in the 1940s, The Ghost Breakers takes a famous comedian and plops him down into a “scary” situation where he treats us to a series of double-takes and quips about his predicament. The humor is outdated and despite the appearance of a ghost or two there is nary a scare to be found, but obviously this is not the point. Although The Ghost Breakers is not a barrelful of laughs, it is surprisingly fun with a pretty tight plot. The eventual appearance of a “real” ghost and zombie actually seemed crowbarred in to justify the title of the film and are completely unnecessary to the story.

2 comments:

Octopunk said...

I wanna inherit a haunted castle!

I always liked Bob Hope and George Burns because my parents liked them, but I only ever saw them on the shitty TV specials you mention. Jerry Lewis is another thing entirely.

It was on one of those specials that I eventually realized Bob Hope's jokes were really lame, i.e. I had grown out of that sense of humor. But I still like him. The airport named after him is like a block away from where I'm working this week.

I'm not sure if I've ever seen a movie in which he was young. Looking at those pics, I'm kind of interested.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

I'd just like to add that I've been a card carrying Bob Hope hater my entire life. His comedic timing always irritated me.