Canterville Ghost

The Canterville Ghost

Director: Jules Dassin

Cast: Charles Laughton, Robert Young, Margaret O'Brien

     
 

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The whimsical Oscar Wilde fantasy yarn The Canterville Ghost is updated to WW2 in this economical but attractively produced MGM filmization. Charles Laughton plays Sir Simon de Canterville, a feckless 17th century British aristocrat who, after proving himself a coward on the field of honor, is walled up alive in his own castle by his unforgiving father

Overview

The whimsical Oscar Wilde fantasy yarn The Canterville Ghost is updated to WW2 in this economical but attractively produced MGM filmization. Charles Laughton plays Sir Simon de Canterville, a feckless 17th century British aristocrat who, after proving himself a coward on the field of honor, is walled up alive in his own castle by his unforgiving father (Reginald Owen). Sir Simon's ghost is doomed to haunt the corridors of Canterville Hall until one of his descendants performs a conspicuous act of bravery. 300 years later, the castle is billetted by a platoon of American soldiers-one of whom, Cuffy Williams (Robert Young), is of course a distant relation to Sir Simon. The ghost of Canterville Hall does his best to frighten away the American "intruders," but he's a fairly incompetent spirit, incapable of frightening even the young mistress of the castle, 8-year-old Lady Jessica (Margaret O'Brien). Upon learning of his family legacy, Cuffy begins worrying that he, too, will prove to be a coward when the chips are down, but with the help of the Ghost and the stalwart Lady Jessica, Cuffy is able to summon up his innate courage. Sharp-eyed viewers will spot Peter Lawford in a tiny role as Sir Simon's ill-fated brother, and cult figure Tor Johnson as Simon's fearsome jousting opponent. Though never remade theatrically, The Canterville Ghost resurfaced in TV-movie form 1986 and 1996.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Loosely adapted from the famous Oscar Wilde short story, The Canterville Ghost is an enjoyable diversion. Updating the story to a World War II setting and complicating the original, rather simple story gives the piece a distinctly different feel, one that is decidedly "un-Wildean," but it works well as an example of Hollywood comedy in the mid-'40s. Edwin Blum's screenplay is serviceable; it does its job well, but is not especially memorable. Likewise, Jules Dassin's direction is fine, though nothing to write home about. Where Canterville shines is in its performances, especially that of Charles Laughton. Looking quite a bit like Bert Lahr, Laughton could probably have played the part in his sleep, but the looseness he brings to the role allows him to strike all the right notes, and there's a lovely playfulness to his every moment onscreen. Margaret O'Brien's English accent is very much a sometime thing, but she's otherwise very effective, if a bit forced in places. And Robert Young is charming throughout; indeed, Young's performance may be perhaps a bit TOO charming, for it's hard to believe that this man suddenly becomes a coward merely because he discovers that all of his ancestors were. Still, most will be willing to overlook this flaw and enjoy this lovely little romp of a film.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/01/2009
UPC:
0883316225134
Original Release:
1944
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Archives
Presentation:
[B&W, Full Frame]
Time:
1:37:00
Sales rank:
760

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Charles Laughton Sir Simon de Canterville/The Ghost
Robert Young Cuffy Williams
Margaret O'Brien Lady Jessica de Canterville
William Gargan Sgt. Benson
Peter Lawford Anthony de Canterville
Una O'Connor Mrs. Umney
Reginald Owen Lord Canterville
Marc Cramer Bugsy McDougle
Frank Faylen Lieutenant Kane
Lumsden Hare Mr. Potts
Mike Mazurki Metropolus
William Moss Hector
Rags Ragland Big Harry
Frank Reicher Actor
Elizabeth Risdon Mrs. Polverdine
Donald Stuart Sir Valentine Williams
William Tannen Jordan

Technical Credits
Jules Dassin Director
Oscar Wilde Author
Robert Planck Cinematographer
Chester Schaeffer Editor
Arthur L. Field Producer
George Bassman Score Composer
Edwin Blum Screenwriter

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