The Canterville Ghost (1944)

Article #339 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 2-17-2002
Posting date: 7-4-2002

A ghost will only be freed from his curse if one of his kinsman will perform a brave act in his name; unfortunately, he belongs to a clan of cowards. His hopes arise when an American nephew shows up during World War II.

This comedy was based on a story by Oscar Wilde, but the presence of American GIs fighting Nazis show that changes were made to cause it to fit in with the tenor of the period. This kind of fluff role must have been a little disappointment to Charles Laughton after some of his classier roles during the thirties; in fact, he had wanted to make a film about Beethoven, but the powers that be deemed this idea to be more commercial. He does well enough, though, as do Margaret O’Brien and Robert Young in their roles. The movie lapses into slapstick at times, and there’s a little too much dwelling on the differences between Yanks and Brits for my taste, but it works quite well overall. Nothing fantastic, but entertaining nonetheless.

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