Comedy Fantasy Romance
97 min     7     1937     USA


Madcap couple George and Marion Kerby are killed in an automobile accident. They return as ghosts to try and liven up the regimented lifestyle of their friend and bank president, Cosmo Topper. When Topper starts to live it up, it strains relations with his stuffy wife.


John Chard wrote:
Jovial ghosts in pleasant purgatory. George & Marion Kerby like to live life to the max, they party hard and pursue the good time with carefree abandon. During one devil may care drive home fuelled with excess, they crash into a tree and are instantly killed, yet strangely their spirits are still on earth, and it would seem they need to achieve something of value before they can hit the big house in the sky. Enter regimental prig Cosmo Topper, a friend and colleague of the Kerby's, and someone who is about to become their pet make over project! Based on Thorne Smith's novel, "The Jovial Ghosts", this is a truly delightful picture, it steams along at a fair old clip, and clocking in at just one and half hours in length, it never outstays its welcome. It would have been very sad if this had become a one joke movie, I mean just how many ghost gags can you pull off before it gets tiresome? Thankfully the makers of this breezy romp have pulled it all together to consistently tickle the ribs. The spooky effects for 1937 certainly hold up well, for sure they are far from perfect, but with the tone of this particular piece being one of mirth and cheekiness, one finds that the effects carry a decidedly uplifting charm. The film boasts a wonderful turn from Roland Young as Cosmo Topper, as he lurches from one incredulous situation to another, he carries the film with consummate ease. As the Kerby's we get the bright Constance Bennett and the irrepressible comic talent of Cary Grant, with Bennett only bagging the role of Marion when the already cast Jean Harlow sadly passed away a month before the shoot. Grant stepped into the role of George after W.C. Fields vacated it, and we can only guess what sort of picture we would have got with the original cast choices. Yet I simply can't envisage the film being improved upon because Grant & Bennett literally do bounce of each other with cracking results. From one spooky set up to the next, Topper is a cure for the blues, be it fisticuffs with cops, or turning a hotel inside out, it is quite simply a delicious piece of 30s comedy pie. 8/10