HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Song Without a Name
Incident in a Ghostland
Relic
Nobody
Now, At Last!
Tales from the Hood
Radio Parade of 1935
Dead
Death at Broadcasting House
Huracan
Ghost Strata
Call to Spy, A
Tailgate
Other Lamb, The
Every Time I Die
Lynn + Lucy
Topsy-Turvy
Honest Thief
Blood and Money
Rose: A Love Story
Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made
Om Dar-B-Dar
Silencing, The
J.R. 'Bob' Dobbs and the Church of SubGenius
Dick Johnson is Dead
Two/One
Cognition
Legacy of Lies
I Am Woman
Alien Addiction
Dare, The
South Terminal
Little Monsters
Yield to the Night
My Zoe
Young Playthings
End of Summer
Times of Harvey Milk, The
Buddies
Threshold
   
 
Newest Articles
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
Werewolves are Real: Dog Soldiers on Digital
Rose: A Love Story - Producers April Kelley and Sara Huxley Interview
Phone Phreak: 976-EVIL on Blu-ray
Living the Nightmare: Dementia on Blu-ray
Becky and The Devil to Pay: Ruckus and Lane Skye Interview
Big Top Bloodbath: Circus of Horrors on Blu-ray
A Knock on the Door at 4 O'clock in the Morning: The Strangers on Blu-ray
Wives of the Skies: Honey Lauren Interview
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox on Blu-ray
Tackling the Football Film: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery on Blu-ray
Film Noir's Golden Couple: This Gun for Hire on Blu-ray
The Doctor Who Connection: Invasion on Blu-ray
Hill's Angles: Benny Hill and Who Done It? on Blu-ray
Big Willie Style: Keep It Up Downstairs on Blu-ray
Walt's Vault: 5 Cult Movies on Disney+
Paradise Lost: Walkabout on Blu-ray
Buster Makes Us Feel Good: Buster Keaton - 3 Films (Volume 3) on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 3 - Don't Go Away - I Could Do with a Bit of Cheer Now!
What Use is Grief to a Horse? Equus on Blu-ray
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
   
 
  Canterville Ghost, The Precocious Poppet meets Spineless Spook
Year: 1944
Director: Jules Dassin
Stars: Charles Laughton, Robert Young, Margaret O'Brien, William Gargan, Reginald Owen, Rags Ragland, Una O’Connor, Donald Stuart, Elisabeth Risdon, Frank Faylen, Lumsden Hare, William Moss, Mike Mazurki
Genre: Comedy, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: MGM’s adaptation of the Oscar Wilde fantasy is wonderful stuff. In 1634, blustery aristocrat Sir Simon de Canterville (Charles Laughton) disgraces his family by fleeing a duel. Walled alive inside his ancestral mansion, Sir Simon is cursed to haunt its halls until a kinsman performs a brave deed on his behalf. Unfortunately, three hundred years of cowardly Cantervilles pass by, until his only surviving descendent, six year old Lady Jessica de Canterville (Margaret O'Brien) welcomes a company of American G.I.s into her grand home. Initially spooked, the rowdy Yanks face down Sir Simon’s nightly apparitions, while Lady Jessica discovers Cuffy Williams (Robert Young) is a long-lost relative. Can Cuffy perform the brave deed Sir Simon so desperately needs, or will the Canterville curse create yet another coward?

A change of pace for crime thriller specialist Jules Dassin, The Canterville Ghost isn’t the most faithful adaptation of Wilde’s story, but is definitely the best. Relocating the story to Blitz-era Britain, the film contrasts the gruff, easygoing Yanks with stately English manners; stuffy British protocol vs. American pragmatism; lovably neurotic Charles Laughton with amiable, “can-do” Robert Young. In that sense it’s a period piece yet, like A Matter of Life and Death (1946), appeals for Brits and Yanks to settle their differences and work together. Their cooperation births a brave, new world embodied by our child heroine. In their wholly delightful first encounter, the rough, tough G.I.’s expect some classy English totty, but are unexpectedly charmed by spirited, dainty, little Lady Jessica. And why wouldn’t they be? Twinkly-eyed, adorable Margaret O'Brien was one of the greatest child actors ever, never straining to be cute, always sincere. She recounts the legend of the Canterville ghost with endearing gusto and, fighting her fears, greets Sir Simon with a curtsy and a brittle: “How do you do?”

O’Brien more than holds her own against Charles Laughton whose mournful refrain touches the heart (He also delivers the immortal line: “Should I prance joyously around like a saucy antelope?”), and the ever-likeable Robert Young. Memorable moments include the soldiers cowering from Sir Simon’s scare tactics before scaring him off with a spooky trick of their own; Cuffy stripped to his underpants for bragging too much; Simon railing at portraits of his cowardly descendents; and a boogie woogie number where G.I.s cut a rug with a clearly awestruck O'Brien. There’s a Forties feel-good factor evident here that is very MGM, evoking joy and laughter to stave away the traumas of war. It’s a sweetness that has kept The Canterville Ghost endlessly watchable through successive generations. Steven Spielberg apparently drew some inspiration for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) from Dassin’s spook scenes. And this was a rare black and white movie that thrilled kids when I was at school. The fantastic finale features Cuffy, Sir Simon and Lady Jessica tangling with a “blockbuster bomb” and admirably suggests courage doesn’t mean fearlessness, but doing the right thing in spite of being afraid. The epilogue where Jessica practically proposes marriage to Cuffy might sound potentially queasy, but is really rather sweet.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 5513 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Jules Dassin  (1911 - 2008)

In the late 1940s Jules Dassin directed some of America's darkest, edgiest thrillers, titles like Brute Force, Naked City and Thieves Highway. He made Night and the City in the UK for 20th Century Fox. Blacklisted in Hollywood, he settled in Europe where he scored international hits with Rififi, Never on Sunday and Topkapi, eventually marrying Greek film goddess Melina Mercouri.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Paul Smith
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: