No Haunt for a Gentleman (1952)

  |  Comedy

On a rural estate, the ghost of a long-dead ancestor takes a dislike to the owner's mother-in-law, and decides to make things tough for her.

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1 August 2014 | jrd_73
| An hour long mother-in-law joke
No Haunt for a Gentleman is an obscure British comedy and with good reason. The film is just an extended mother-in-law joke.

Newlyweds move into their first home together, but the wife's mother moves in with them to help out until the couple get decent servants. The problem is the mother-in-law keeps firing the servants. The husband is annoyed. Another unwanted visitor is a ghost from the estate down the road. That estate has been torn down and the ghost refuses to haunt a "gasworks," which is what is to be built on the spot of his former home. Therefore, the ghost has come to the nearest house. The husband strikes a deal with the ghost: it can stay if it scares away the mother-in-law. Of course, the mother-in-law proves tougher than the ghost, whom she forces to become a servant.

There is more, but it all boils down to the joke that the mother-in-law is scarier than the ghosts (for there are more than one). For this premise to work, the mother-in-law needs to be meaner than she is portrayed in No Haunt for a Gentleman. Patience Rentoul plays the part well, but the script does not give her enough to do. Her character is only mildly annoying instead of despotic. In fact, the whole film needs to be turned up several notches. The ghosts are bland and do bland hauntings (throw things, play bagpipes). This is very light stuff, and the humor is just silly. Still, one hates to beat up too hard on the film. It is not very good, but it is painless and mostly inoffensive (a scene where a white character pretends to be black is the one questionable moment).

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Release Date:

July 1952



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