The Living Ghost (1942)

Article #1369 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-13-2004
Posting Date: 5-12-2005
Directed by William Beaudine
Featuring James Dunn, Joan Woodbury, Paul McVey

A detective is called on to solve the mystery of a man who has disappeared. The missing man then reappears, but with his mental faculties impaired by a paralyzed brain.

Fantastic content: A bit of horror is present due to the man’s zombified state, and there is also a visit to a spooky old house.

You know, the mystery elements here are not really too bad; it does have a somewhat interesting gimmick, and some of the details here and there caught my attention. Unfortunately, the movie is also trying to be a comedy with James Dunn as a sharp-tongued detective, and though I don’t know whether it’s the script or his performance that is at fault, the end result is that I found the whole affair very unfunny. In some ways, I’m not sure why the problem exists. The movie isn’t as creaky as some others I’ve seen, and there is a certain level of energy to the proceedings. Still, every time it goes for a laugh, it falls flat, and after awhile, I just lost interest. In particular, the running joke about the detective’s frustration with the butler is ineffective, largely because the butler never does anything to really merit that sort of reaction. All in all, this one is a waste of time for any but the most patient of mystery fans.

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