1 March 2014 | jarrodmcdonald-1
Please take out your passport as you cross the border into whimsy
The film picks up where the original story left off. If you haven't seen the first Topper, there are several flashback scenes at the beginning to bring you up to speed. This is classic screwball comedy combined with supernatural fantasy, something that seems to match writer Thorne Smith's particular talents and Hollywood's fascination with anything and everything whimsical.
Roland Young is impressive as the befuddled title character and Billie Burke delights audiences as his wacky wife. The issue one has with the series is not its continual use of thinly stretched gags (playing on the idea that only Topper can communicate with the dead), but rather its obvious use of camera editing to create magical special effects.
For example, ghostly Constance Bennett drinks a martini that seems to disappear one gulp at a time (obviously accomplished by stopping the film, emptying some of the alcohol, then resuming camera action). Most viewers probably see such an effect as fake and contrived. Despite the basic technology, the film does retain appeal, thanks in large part to the winning performances of its actors. Especially Miss Bennett who adds an element of glamour to the whole affair.