The Ghost Breakers (1940)

82 mins | Comedy | 21 June 1940

Director:

George Marshall

Writer:

Walter DeLeon

Cinematographer:

Charles Lang Jr.

Production Designers:

Hans Dreier, Robert Usher

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

According to news items in HR , Wilkie Mahoney was to have worked on the script, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. The film was partially shot on location in Havana, Cuba. Paramount publicity materials contained in the Production Files at the AMPAS Library note that the film introduced the "Sonovox," a machine invented by Gilbert Wright that blended music and the sound of the human voice. The device was used for the disembodied voices in the film. This picture marked Robert Ryan's screen debut. Cinematographer Charles Lang, art director Hans Dreier and stars Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard also worked together in Paramount's 1939 film The Cat and the Canary (see above). Paramount first filmed the Paul Dickey-Charles W. Goddard play in 1914, starring H. B. Warner and Rita Stanwood and directed by Cecil B. DeMille (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ; F1.1541); and in 1922, starring Wallace Reid and Lila Lee and directed by Alfred E. Green (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films 1911-20 ; F2.2060). Scared Stiff , a 1953 Paramount film starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and directed by George Marshall was also based on the Dickey-Goddard ... More Less

According to news items in HR , Wilkie Mahoney was to have worked on the script, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. The film was partially shot on location in Havana, Cuba. Paramount publicity materials contained in the Production Files at the AMPAS Library note that the film introduced the "Sonovox," a machine invented by Gilbert Wright that blended music and the sound of the human voice. The device was used for the disembodied voices in the film. This picture marked Robert Ryan's screen debut. Cinematographer Charles Lang, art director Hans Dreier and stars Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard also worked together in Paramount's 1939 film The Cat and the Canary (see above). Paramount first filmed the Paul Dickey-Charles W. Goddard play in 1914, starring H. B. Warner and Rita Stanwood and directed by Cecil B. DeMille (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ; F1.1541); and in 1922, starring Wallace Reid and Lila Lee and directed by Alfred E. Green (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films 1911-20 ; F2.2060). Scared Stiff , a 1953 Paramount film starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and directed by George Marshall was also based on the Dickey-Goddard play. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
5 Jun 40
p. 3.
Film Daily
13 Jun 40
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jan 40
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Feb 40
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Feb 40
pp. 12-13.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jun 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 40
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
10 Jun 40
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald
15 Jun 40
pp. 42-44.
New York Times
4 Jul 40
p. 12.
Variety
12 Jun 40
p. 4.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus adv
VISUAL EFFECTS
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Ghost Breaker by Paul Dickey and Charles W. Goddard (New York, 5 Mar 1909).
DETAILS
Release Date:
21 June 1940
Premiere Information:
Detroit premiere: 7 June 1940
Production Date:
began late January 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 June 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9730
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
82
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6126
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

On the night before he is to leave on a four-week fishing trip, Larry Lawrence, New York's "Walter Winchell" of crime, receives an order from gangster Frenchy Duval to visit him at his hotel. In the hotel hallway, Larry becomes involved in a shooting and, believing that he has killed Ramon Mederos, hides in the steamer trunk owned by guest Mary Carter, who is leaving that night to take possession of an inherited haunted castle on a small island off the coast of Cuba. Upon emerging from the trunk, Larry finds himself aboard a steamer accompanied by his valet, Alex. When Mary receives a death threat, Larry comes to her aid as a "ghost breaker." Despite warnings from Geoff Montgomery, an old acquaintance, and Parada, her Cuban advisor, Mary and Larry remain undaunted in their determination to visit the castle. The night that the steamer docks, they make their way to the island, where they encounter a ghost, a zombie and disembodied voices before coming upon the dying Parada, who tells of his stabbing and a fortune hidden beneath the castle. In the castle basement, they discover a silver mine and Parada's murderer, Montgomery. After Alex dispatches Montgomery, daylight dawns, and they all leave the island in much brighter ... +


On the night before he is to leave on a four-week fishing trip, Larry Lawrence, New York's "Walter Winchell" of crime, receives an order from gangster Frenchy Duval to visit him at his hotel. In the hotel hallway, Larry becomes involved in a shooting and, believing that he has killed Ramon Mederos, hides in the steamer trunk owned by guest Mary Carter, who is leaving that night to take possession of an inherited haunted castle on a small island off the coast of Cuba. Upon emerging from the trunk, Larry finds himself aboard a steamer accompanied by his valet, Alex. When Mary receives a death threat, Larry comes to her aid as a "ghost breaker." Despite warnings from Geoff Montgomery, an old acquaintance, and Parada, her Cuban advisor, Mary and Larry remain undaunted in their determination to visit the castle. The night that the steamer docks, they make their way to the island, where they encounter a ghost, a zombie and disembodied voices before coming upon the dying Parada, who tells of his stabbing and a fortune hidden beneath the castle. In the castle basement, they discover a silver mine and Parada's murderer, Montgomery. After Alex dispatches Montgomery, daylight dawns, and they all leave the island in much brighter spirits. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.