Ghost Catchers (1944)

67 or 69 mins | Horror | 16 June 1944

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was High Spirits . According to modern sources, Ghost Catchers was based on an unpublished story by director Eddie Cline and writer Milt Gross. Modern sources also report that actress Diana Barrymore was originally cast in the role of "Susanna Marshall," but dismissed the burlesque comedy. Her refusal led to the termination of her contract with Universal. HR news items include Ramsay Ames in the cast, but her appearance in the released film has not been determined. The similarities between this film and Universal's 1941 film Hold That Ghost (See Entry) are acknowledged early in the picture by actors Ole Olson and Chic Johnson, who refer to the Bud Abbott and Lou Costello film as being "a very unbelievable picture," particularly in its use of moving candlesticks. The two vaudevillians are then startled when a candlestick in their bedroom begins to move across a table. Both films feature the same cartoon behind their opening ... More Less

The working title of this film was High Spirits . According to modern sources, Ghost Catchers was based on an unpublished story by director Eddie Cline and writer Milt Gross. Modern sources also report that actress Diana Barrymore was originally cast in the role of "Susanna Marshall," but dismissed the burlesque comedy. Her refusal led to the termination of her contract with Universal. HR news items include Ramsay Ames in the cast, but her appearance in the released film has not been determined. The similarities between this film and Universal's 1941 film Hold That Ghost (See Entry) are acknowledged early in the picture by actors Ole Olson and Chic Johnson, who refer to the Bud Abbott and Lou Costello film as being "a very unbelievable picture," particularly in its use of moving candlesticks. The two vaudevillians are then startled when a candlestick in their bedroom begins to move across a table. Both films feature the same cartoon behind their opening credits. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
10 Jun 1944.
---
Daily Variety
3 Mar 1944.
---
Daily Variety
13-May-44
---
Daily Variety
2 Jun 44
p. 3.
Film Daily
8 Jun 44
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Dec 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Feb 44
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 44
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
8 Apr 44
p. 1835.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
10 Jun 44
p. 1935.
New York Times
31 May 44
p. 22.
Variety
21 May 44
p. 20.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Ole Olsen
Chic Johnson
Lon Chaney [Jr.]
and His Orchestra
Wee Willie Davis
Barbara Blain
John Duncan
Nancy Marlowe
Ken Broeker
Joe Kirk
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Gaffer
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Painter
COSTUMES
Gowns
Ward woman
Ward man
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Dir of sd
[Sd] tech
Boom op
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog
Spec eff
Spec eff
DANCE
Mus numbers devised and staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair dresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Best boy
Construction foreman
"Getmethisnthat"
Prod secy
Prod liaison
SOURCES
SONGS
"Blue Candlelight," "Three Cheers for the Customers" and "Quote the Raven," music and lyrics by Paul F. Webster and Harry Revel
"I'm Old Enough to Dream," music and lyrics by Everett Carter and Edward Ward
"Swanee River," music and lyrics by Stephen Foster
+
SONGS
"Blue Candlelight," "Three Cheers for the Customers" and "Quote the Raven," music and lyrics by Paul F. Webster and Harry Revel
"I'm Old Enough to Dream," music and lyrics by Everett Carter and Edward Ward
"Swanee River," music and lyrics by Stephen Foster
"I'll Remember April," music and lyrics by Don Raye and Gene de Paul
"These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)," music by Jack Strachey and Harry Link, lyrics by Holt Marvel.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
High Spirits
Release Date:
16 June 1944
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 30 May 1944
Production Date:
22 February--late March 1944
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
14 June 1944
Copyright Number:
LP12762
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
67 or 69
Length(in feet):
6,149
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

Colonel Breckinridge Marshall, an indigent posing as a rich Southern gentleman, signs a six-month lease on a large Manhattan brownstone, having moved from Coolwater, Georgia to New York City so that his daughters Melinda and Susanna can pursue musical careers. That night, strange sounds awaken the family and a threatening note is found scrawled on Melinda's bedroom mirror. Susanna rushes next door for help, where she finds a nightclub owned by vaudevillians Ole Olson and Chic Johnson. After being scared half to death by their wild show, Susanna tells off the two, only to be removed from their establishment through a trap door. Finally realizing that the woman may be in real trouble, Ole and Chic go next door to offer their help and agree, against their better judgment, to stay the night. The next day, Susanna goes with Ole and Chic to see Chambers, the lawyer who rented the house to the Marshalls. Chambers refuses to break the lease, arguing that the ghost is only a legend, that drunken millionaire, Wilbur Duffington, who died there during a wild turn-of-the-century New Year's Eve party, does not haunt the place. Believing that Wilbur haunts the brownstone because he failed to enjoy his own party, Ole and Chic put on a mad bash in his honor, at the conclusion of which the ghost pinches Melinda and leaves another threatening message, this time on the dining room wall. Not to be foiled, Ole and Chic decide to drive the ghost out of the house with loud jazz music. They seemingly succeed this time, as the ghost hoists a white flag and walks out. With ... +


Colonel Breckinridge Marshall, an indigent posing as a rich Southern gentleman, signs a six-month lease on a large Manhattan brownstone, having moved from Coolwater, Georgia to New York City so that his daughters Melinda and Susanna can pursue musical careers. That night, strange sounds awaken the family and a threatening note is found scrawled on Melinda's bedroom mirror. Susanna rushes next door for help, where she finds a nightclub owned by vaudevillians Ole Olson and Chic Johnson. After being scared half to death by their wild show, Susanna tells off the two, only to be removed from their establishment through a trap door. Finally realizing that the woman may be in real trouble, Ole and Chic go next door to offer their help and agree, against their better judgment, to stay the night. The next day, Susanna goes with Ole and Chic to see Chambers, the lawyer who rented the house to the Marshalls. Chambers refuses to break the lease, arguing that the ghost is only a legend, that drunken millionaire, Wilbur Duffington, who died there during a wild turn-of-the-century New Year's Eve party, does not haunt the place. Believing that Wilbur haunts the brownstone because he failed to enjoy his own party, Ole and Chic put on a mad bash in his honor, at the conclusion of which the ghost pinches Melinda and leaves another threatening message, this time on the dining room wall. Not to be foiled, Ole and Chic decide to drive the ghost out of the house with loud jazz music. They seemingly succeed this time, as the ghost hoists a white flag and walks out. With the ghost exorcised, the Marshalls prepare to give a concert at Carnegie Hall. Complications arise when the colonel and Melinda are abducted, and while searching the house for them, Susanna finds the dead body of Diggs, the cleaning man, hanging in a closet. Once again, she goes to Ole and Chic for help, and they sneak into the house to investigate. There, Ole and Chic find that gangsters have been trying to scare the Marshalls out of their home in order to steal some valuable pre-Prohibition liquor hidden in the cellar. The two are quickly captured by the gangsters, who wall them up with the colonel and Melinda. With the help of Wilbur's ghost, the four break through the cellar's brick wall and into the nightclub, but when the gangsters grab Ole and Chic in front of the audience, everyone thinks it is part of the show. At the Marshall home, the gangsters are about to kill Ole and Chic when the police arrive, having been summoned there by Wilbur. With only one ticket sold, the Carneige Hall concert is canceled, so Melinda and Susanna perform their show at Ole and Chic's nightclub instead. Ole and Chic then catch Jerry, their headwaiter, trying to kill Melinda, and Jerry is revealed to be the gangster boss. The Marshalls' show is a big hit, and Susanna is united with band leader Clay Edwards. +

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.