The Canterville Ghost (1944)

Passed   |    |  Comedy, Fantasy

The Canterville Ghost (1944) Poster

The descendent of a ghost imprisoned for cowardice hopes to free the spirit by displaying courage when under duress.




  • Reginald Owen in The Canterville Ghost (1944)
  • Charles Laughton in The Canterville Ghost (1944)
  • Robert Young and Margaret O'Brien in The Canterville Ghost (1944)
  • Charles Laughton in The Canterville Ghost (1944)
  • Robert Young and Margaret O'Brien in The Canterville Ghost (1944)
  • Reginald Owen in The Canterville Ghost (1944)

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1 win.

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User Reviews

16 July 2001 | critic-2
| Oscar Wilde as a World War II morale booster
This, the first film version of Oscar Wilde's short story "The Canterville Ghost", was made by M-G-M during World War II, and, like some other films of that period based on literary or theatrical works, tries to incorporate some good old American (and British) flag-waving into its charming original story, which, as in all the TV versions (this is the only theatrical one) updates it to the twentieth century; when will someone do a good film version of the story in its original, nineteenth-century setting?

Fortunately, the story isn't tampered with enough to ruin it, and one of the film's virtues is Charles Laughton in the title role.

Proving what a great actor can bring to an average screenplay, Laughton hams it up outrageously in his comical first scene, in which his character, Sir Simon de Canterville, is still alive, but he later shows a deep sensitivity in the later scenes in which he expresses terror during his murder and quiet despair at his fate.

In order to incorporate some war heroics, a platoon of American soldiers has been incorporated into the story, and Laughton's descendant (Robert Young) must perform a heroic deed in order to break the curse that Laughton has been placed under. Some rather broad serviceman comedy has been incorporated into the story as well, courtesy of "Rags" Ragland and Frank Faylen (Dobie Gillis's dad on the TV series). It is Faylen who gets to deliver the film's most topical line--not having seen the ghost yet, he asks his fearful platoon, "What are you going to do when you have to face Nazis?" (What would Oscar Wilde have thought?)

Robert Young is his usual pleasant self as Laughton's descendant, and child star Margaret O'Brien isn't nearly as revoltingly syrupy as you might fear.

But it is Laughton's way with both sentiment and comedy that really makes the film worth watching, and it is worth watching.

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Did You Know?


This film received its initial television showing in Chicago Sunday 30 June 1957 on WBBM (Channel 2); it first aired in Seattle 11 July 1957 on KING (Channel 5), in Philadelphia 4 August 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6), in New York City 6 August 1957 on WCBS (Channel 2), in New Haven CT 18 August 1957 on WNHC (Channel 8), in Altoona PA 1 September 1957 on WFBG (Channel 10), in Tampa 3 September 1957 on WFLA (Channel 8), in Portland OR 5 September 1957 on KGW (Channel 8), in Honolulu 19 September 1957 on KHVH (Channel 13), in Norfolk VA 4 October 1957 on WTAR (Channel 3), in Amarillo 22 October 1957 on KFDA (Channel 19), in Baltimore 31 October 1957 on WJZ (Channel 13), in Cleveland 15 November 1957 on KYW (Channel 3), in Windsor ON (Serving Detroit) 3 December 1957 on CKLW (Channel 9), in Nashville 16 December 1957 on WLAC (Channel 5), in Akron 20 December 1957 on WAKR (Channel 49), in San Francisco 25 January 1958 on KGO (Channel 7), and in Los Angeles 31 January 1958 on KTTV (Channel 11). The Ghost finally found his way to Minneapolis 1 November 1960 on WTCN (Channel 11).


Sir Simon de Canterville: Excuse me, I really must gibber at the oriole window.


When the soldier hiding inside the suit of armor (to take the ghost's photo) falls over, he falls on his face. In the next shot he is on his back, with the other soldiers surrounding him.


Bless 'em All
Written by
Fred Godfrey (1917)
Revised lyrics by Jimmy Hughes and Frank Lake (1940)
Additional lyrics by Al Stillman (1941)
Sung a cappella by the soldiers


Plot Summary

Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Comedy | Fantasy

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