TOPPER RETURNS (1941)
Article #1423 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-5-2005
Posting Date: 7-5-2005
Directed by Roy Del Ruth
Featuring Joan Blondell, Roland Young, Carole Landis
Topper is bothered by another ghost. In this case, it’s the American friend to the heir of a fortune who was murdered by mistake. She wants Topper to help solve her murder.
This was the only one of the three Topper films that wasn’t based directly on one of Thorne Smith’s stories, but rather on the characters he created. You can see the difference. Whereas the other two Topper movies were somewhat unpredictable, wild but somehow never going over the top or descending into predictable slapstick. Such is not the case here. The story is your basic old dark house murder mystery, complete with suspicious characters and a scared black chauffeur; Eddie “Rochester” Anderson does his best with the latter, but I don’t blame him for for wanting to be back with Mr. Benny, as he mentions at one point. The humor here is over-the-top and predictable; Eddie Anderson being scared of the ghost, recycled humor from the first two movies in the series, slapstick antics, a stupid cop and a sarcastic cab driver. It’s somewhat hit and miss, but it does have a great cast; in fact, horror fans may prefer this one over the first two of the series; after all, we have George Zucco on hand to glower for us. Somehow, though, I suspect that Topper and Thorne Smith fans may be somewhat disappointed.