Hold That Ghost
|Hold That Ghost|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Arthur Lubin|
|Produced by||Burt Kelly
|Written by||Robert Lees
The Andrews Sisters
|Music by||H.J. Salter|
|Edited by||Philip Cahn|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
Hold That Ghost is a 1941 horror comedy film starring the comedy team of Abbott and Costello and featuring Joan Davis, Evelyn Ankers and Richard Carlson. On August 1, 1941, Abbott and Costello performed a live version of the film for radio audiences on Louella Parsons' Hollywood Premiere.
Chuck Murray (Bud Abbott) and Ferdie Jones (Lou Costello), gas station attendants, aspire to better jobs waiting tables at Chez Glamour, a high-class nightclub, where Ted Lewis and The Andrews Sisters perform. However, Chuck and Ferdie cause a ruckus and wind up back at the gas station. Gangster "Moose" Mattson (William B. Davidson) brings his car in for servicing, and Chuck and Ferdie are caught inside the vehicle when the gangster speeds off to escape the police. During the chase shots are exchanged, and the gangster is killed by gunfire. However, through a strange clause in his will--which says that whoever is with him when he dies will get whatever he owns--Chuck and Ferdie inherit his rural nightspot, the Forrester's Club. Mattson had also given a cryptic clue about a hidden stash of money, stating that he always kept it "in his head," but its existence and location remained a mystery.
Charlie Smith, an associate of Mattson's crooked attorney, arranges to accompany the boys on a freelance bus to the rundown "club". The boys are unaware that Smith (Marc Lawrence) is a member of Moose's gang and has come along to secretly look for the money. The unscrupulous bus driver, however, abandons them and three other passengers--a doctor, a radio actress and a waitress--at the club during a heavy rainstorm.
As the night progresses, strange things happen. Smith disappears while searching the basement, and his corpse turns up unexpectedly several times. The water in the tavern is undrinkable. Ferdie's bedroom turns out to be rigged with hidden gambling equipment. The girls are scared by what appears to be a ghost. Two detectives show up but vanish soon after starting to investigate. Chuck and the doctor decide to search for the detectives while Ferdie examines a map to find the quickest route back to town. However, the candles on the table move mysteriously and scare Ferdie.
Ferdie eventually finds Moose's treasure hidden inside the stuffed moose head over the fireplace. Members of the gang (including the so-called detectives) appear and demand the money, leading to a chase through the building. Ferdie scares them off by making the sound of a police siren. The boys plan to fix up the club, and the doctor announces that the water they drank last night has therapeutic properties and Ferdie and Chuck should transform the club into a health resort and hire Ted Lewis and The Andrews Sisters to headline. As it turns out, the maitre d' who fired them at the start of the film (Mischa Auer) now works for them as a waiter.
|Bud Abbott||Chuck Murray|
|Lou Costello||Ferdinand Jones|
|Richard Carlson||Dr. Jackson|
|Joan Davis||Camille Brewster|
|Evelyn Ankers||Norma Lind|
|Marc Lawrence||Charlie Smith|
|Shemp Howard||Soda Jerk|
|Russell Hicks||Bannister (Matson's attorney)|
|William B. Davidson||Moose Matson|
|Ted Lewis and his Orchestra||Themselves|
|The Andrews Sisters||Themselves|
|Milton Parsons||Bus Driver|
Hold that Ghost (working title: Oh Charlie) was made immediately after Buck Privates, from January 21 through February 24, 1941, on a budget of $190,000. The film's release was delayed, however, so that Universal could hastily make and release a second Abbott and Costello service comedy, In the Navy.
Since both service comedies prominently featured music and The Andrews Sisters, Universal put Oh Charlie back into production in May, 1941, to append the opening and closing of the film with musical performances and re-shoot other scenes for continuity purposes. This cost an (estimated) additional $200,000.
Upon the film's release it received mostly positive reviews. The New York Times considered the film "immensely funny" but criticized its musical numbers and length. The Motion Picture Herald gave the film a very favorable review. Motion Picture Daily felt that it was Abbott and Costello's "corniest" and "best" comedy yet. The use of slapstick was praised by the New York Morning Telegraph, yet the publication thought "it should have been better Abbott and Costello."
The film still receives favorable reviews. Ted Okuda called it "one of the team's best." Jim Mulholland has described it as the "team's best film next to Buck Privates" In addition, Rotten Tomatoes reported that 100% of critics gave the film positive write-ups based on five reviews. Allmovie contributor Hal Erickson gave the film three out of a possible five stars and stated that the "moving candle" scene might be "Costello's funniest-ever screen scene." Film critic Leonard Maltin gave the film three out of four stars and noted it as "Prime A&C."
This film has been released three times on VHS. Originally released in 1982 on VHS and Beta, it was re-released on VHS in 1988 and again in 1991.
This film has been released twice on DVD. The first time, on The Best of Abbott and Costello Volume One, on February 10, 2004, and again on October 28, 2008 as part of Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection.
- Furmanek p 57-59
- Bob Furmanek and Ron Palumbo (1991). Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. New York: Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-51605-0
- Bob Furmanek and Ron Palumbo (1991). Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. New York: Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-51605-0 p 57-58
- Miller, Jeffrey S. (2000). Horror Spoofs of Abbott and Costello: A Critical Assessment of the Comedy Team's Monster Films. McFarland & Company. p. 163. ISBN 0-7864-1922-9.
- "Hold That Ghost (Oh, Charlie) Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
- Erickson, Hal. "Hold That Ghost > Overview - Allmovie". Allmovie. Retrieved 11 January 2010.
- Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide. Penguin Books. p. 617. ISBN 978-0-452-28978-9.
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