“I want to drink, I want to dance, I want to sing… I want to have fun — whee!”
When a fun-loving socialite couple (Cary Grant and Constance Bennett) is killed in an automobile accident, their ghosts attempt to do a “good deed” by helping a repressed banker (Roland Young) with an uptight wife (Billie Burke) live life more fully.
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this supernatural box office hit — which sparked two sequels and a television series — is “not nearly as good as its reputation”. If one can forgive its countless logistical loopholes (why don’t any representatives from the “Other Side” ever show up to validate the proceedings?), the fact remains that “most of the humor is silly; the special effects aren’t that imaginative… and the storyline doesn’t have enough surprises”. In addition, despite the fact that this was a major breakthrough role for him, Cary Grant “isn’t in the picture enough”; and while Bennett is a sparkling actress who “turns in a comedic performance worthy of [Carole] Lombard”, her desire to pursue “Topper” (Young) so aggressively — while Grant waits petulantly in the wings — simply doesn’t ring true. Young is perfectly cast in the lead role, and admirably engages in several sequences of amusing slapstick; however, Billie Burke (typecast as his socially conscious wife) is simply annoying (that voice!). Topper is worth a look by all film fanatics for its historical relevance, but is ultimately a disappointment.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Constance Bennett as Marion Kerby
- Cary Grant’s droll delivery as George Kerby: “All right, I’ll change the tire… But I’ll be darned if I’ll waste any ectoplasm doing it!”
- Roland Young as Cosmo Topper
No, though it’s worth a look simply for its historical popularity. But don’t expect to be as amused as contemporary audience members once were…