24 April 2005 | gftbiloxi
Amusing, Family-Friendly, And Lots of Charm
Very, very loosely based on a short story by Oscar Wilde--so loosely that he is probably turning in his grave--THE CANTERVILLE GHOST is a charming bit of 1940s Hollywood fluff about an English ghost who runs afoul of American pragmatism. In the film version, the Americans arrive in the form of WWII soldiers, including Robert Young, who are billeted at a notoriously haunted castle where they encounter a legendary spectre much given to theatrical materializations.
Although the story is very, very slight, the cast makes it enjoyable. Child star Margaret O'Brien gives a typically enjoyable performance as the unwilling heiress to the castle, and Robert Young and his fellow actors mug their way through the script with entertaining aplomb. The greatest pleasure, however, is Charles Laughton as the ghost, which he plays most delightfully. The emphasis is on comedy rather than ghostly thrills, and although the comedy is quite mild it is expertly done. THE CANTERVILLE GHOST will never make any one's short list of "great cinematic art," but both grown-ups and kids alike will have a good time with it; recommended for an old fashioned family night.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer