Monday, April 02, 2012


In 18th century Scotland, kilt-wearing playboy Murdoch Glourie spends too much time flirting with the ladies and not enough time fighting the English or sparring with the rival clan, the MacLaggens, and when he is killed (just after dallying with a lass) by a shell explosion, his father's curse on him takes effect: he must haunt Glourie Castle as a ghost, appearing every midnight, until he can avenge the pride of the Glouries against the MacLaggens. In the 20th century, Donald, the latest Glourie, is forced to sell the castle to pay his debts and the Martin family is interested in buying it, taking the castle apart, and putting it back together in Florida. Because Mrs. Martin is freaked out by the rumor of a Glourie ghost, Donald tries to get the Martins out by midnight, but their daughter Peggy stays the night and sees the ghost, who is a friendly and flirtatious one; she assumes that Donald dressed up in a kilt and played a prank, so she's a little put off when Donald is not quite so flirty the next morning. Nevertheless, the sale goes through with the ghost accompanying the castle bricks on a ship across the sea. By the night of the castle's grand opening, Martin wants Donald to impersonate the ghost, but when the real ghost finds out that one of the guests at the ceremony is a descendent of the MacLaggens… well, you can figure out where it goes from here.

This is a sweet romantic fantasy, based on a short story called "Sir Tristram Goes West," and is very similar in tone and some plotpoints to the later THE CANTERVILLE GHOST which was based on a story by Oscar Wilde. Robert Donat plays both Murdoch and Donald, and is much more appealing as the mildly roguish Murdoch; as Donald, he is basically the same old drab persona he was in many of his movies—Donat is well loved my many, though not by me. Jean Parker (pictured above with Donat) is equally drab as Peggy, though in her scenes where she's bantering with the ghost, she and Donat achieve some sparks. The first scene in particular, along the castle parapet, is nicely atmospheric; in general, the film could use a little more of that ghostliness. Eugene Pallette is his usual growly, fun self as Peggy's father, and Elsa Lanchester has a small role in the climactic scene. [TCM]

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