Gildersleeve’s Ghost (1944)

Article #820 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-13-2003
Posting Date: 11-10-2003
Directed by Gordon Douglas
Featuring Harold Peary, Marion Martin, Frank Reicher

Gildersleeve is running for police commissioner, but finds his credibility is strained when he claims to see a gorilla that no one else believes exists.

Title check: I’m not quite sure. It runs sixty-four minutes, but my print is only forty-eight minutes. Harold Peary also is credited with appearing as a couple of ghosts that don’t appear in my print, which makes me suspect that I have an incomplete print.

This movie asks the cinematic question: just how many times can you try to pull off the old gorilla gag. You know the gag I mean: 1) man dresses up in gorilla suit, 2) real gorilla shows up, 3) confusion and hilarity ensues. I swear, this setup has been used so many times over the years that if someone had taken out a patent on the idea, they’d be rich by now. This movie tries it three times in forty-eight minutes, and this would be at least two times too many if it weren’t for the fact that Charlie Gemora is in the gorilla costume, and quite frankly, I get more laughs from his reactions than I do from the rest of the cast (and he isn’t even billed). Gildersleeve was a popular radio character of the time, but I would never have heard of him myself if it hadn’t been for a parody of the character that appeared in a Bugs Bunny cartoon from the forties in which Bugs tussles with Gildersleeve who is a clerk in a department store; it makes me wonder how many comedians and character actors from the thirties and forties are primarily remembered nowadays by their appearances in cartoons. In fact, Richard LeGrand’s catchphrase (“Well, now, I wouldn’t say that!”) was used constantly in these cartoons. As for Harold Peary, I’m afraid he’s an acquired taste I don’t quite share.


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