It wasn’t until watching this movie for what I thought was the first time that I realized I had seen it before! I began to remember the first 20 minutes or so of the movie, but after that, I guess I must have used the movie as background noise or fallen asleep during it because it all seemed new to me.
The Ghost Breakers is a 1940 thriller/mystery/comedy that was just one in a large number of films Bob Hope did under his contract with Paramount Pictures. It is also the second movie he did opposite of the beautiful Paulette Goddard They first starred together in 1939’s horror/comedy The Cat and the Canary, which was released by Paramount but was a remake of the 1927 Universal silent horror film of the same name.
Of all the Bob Hope movies I’ve seen, this is one of his better non-Road movies. The movies displays a perfect balance of Bob Hope’s comedy brilliance and one-liners along with some actual spooky scenes later in the movie. Also of note is the further comic relief of Willie Best (who plays the valet of Hope’s character). Best has some of the best lines in the movie, if you can look look past the stereotypical 1940s “colored man” role he is playing (his entrance into the movie had me cringe a bit).
The movie starts off seemingly like a zany Hope comedy, another case of mistaken identity as a murderer and on the run from the mob.As radio crime reporter Lawrence Lawrence (his middle name is Lawrence too, y’know), Hope is quickly swept up into the current woes of Mary Carter (Goddard), who stands to inherit an old family castle down on Black Island in Cuba, but it appears someone or something doesn’t want her to come into possession of it!
Of course, all of this comes to a head in Cuba and on the atmospheric Black Island where murderers, thieves, ghosts, skeletons and zombies (of the voodoo variety) are abound!
Well worth looking into for Hope fans and it may not be a Universal movie, but this is also a recommend for anyone a fan of classic horror comedies like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
The movie is based on a play of the same name, but has actually been filmed twice before as a silent film. Once in 1914 with director Cecil B. DeMille and again in 1922. Both prints are lost. Another remake was released under the title of Scared Stiff starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in 1953.