Ghost Catchers (1944)

“If you should hear noises, ignore them — they’re nothing, nothing at all!”

Ghost Catchers Poster

Synopsis:
Nightclub performers Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson try to unravel the mystery of a haunted house being rented by a southern colonel (Walter Catlett) and his two musical daughters (Gloria Jean and Martha O’Driscoll), who are due to make their debut at Carnegie Hall that night.

Genres:

Review:
Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson’s follow-up to Hellzapoppin’ (1941) was this “comedic thriller” clearly meant to capitalize on both the popularity of the Topper trilogy and Abbott and Costello’s Hold That Ghost (which is openly referenced in the film). Unfortunately, there’s barely enough of Chic and Ole’s trademark zany antics to make this one worth sitting through, given that the surrounding plot is both nonsensical and insipid, and the song and dance sequences interspersed throughout are instantly forgettable. Lon Chaney, Jr. and Andy Devine make brief cameos in animal costumes (don’t ask), but aren’t given nearly enough to do. With that said, fans on IMDb insist that this film is “side-splitting” and that it’s Olsen and Johnson’s “funniest film”, so perhaps I’m missing something — you’ll have to decide for yourself. Meanwhile, I suggest sticking with Hellzapoppin’ as Chic and Ole’s one true must-see film.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Occasional snippets of truly bizarre lunacy
    Ghost Catchers Old Man
  • Effective lighting during several scary sequences
    Ghost Catchers Lighting1
    Ghost Catchers Lighting2

Must See?
No — unless you’re a diehard Olsen and Johnson fan.

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One Response to “Ghost Catchers (1944)”

  1. Not a must.

    First viewing.

    Odd as it may seem, I had never heard of Olsen and Johnson (unless briefly in passing). Apparently they were a bigger splash live and did few films. That explains it to some degree.

    And perhaps ‘Hellzapoppin’ is a better film, I’ll have to get to it. But, first off, whatever zip ‘Ghost Catchers’ may have had on release has zipped-up. Most of this is very dated comedy; I’m speaking less of the zany aspect (which is a bit more successful) than the verbal jokes (most of which are now stale, tho it’s hard to believe how they might’ve worked even at the time).

    The premise is filled with one particular ‘huh’?: the leading ladies are a sister act from the South which has been booked by Carnegie Hall – yet, by the day before their concert, only one ticket has been sold. How would *that* ever happen?

    Most of what does work – for the most part, the fact that it all flies by quickly – is thanks to director Edward (“Eddie”) Cline. And certain things are fun: i.e., usually in this type of ghost story, we have only a few or a handful of people set loose in the haunted house, but here we have a whole gang of people (courtesy of the entire troupe of showbiz types working in the hot spot next door). Though it’s true – most of the musical numbers are “forgettable”, two stick out: Morton Downey performing a charming version of the standard “These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)” and the nightclub gang jitterbugging with gusto in the peppy “Quoth the Raven” (a suitable jazz tune for a haunted house).

    I was very surprised to come across a film which – aside from Andy Devine and Lon Chaney (both in relatively normal roles) – is filled with people I had absolutely never heard of.

    Perhaps the only line that made me laugh (toughie that I am on comedy) comes from a dwarf, incensed when it’s suggested he’s connected to Snow White: “Snow White! Snow White! Everywhere we go! EVERYWHERE WE GO!!!”

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