The Smiling Ghost (1941)

71 or 77 mins | Comedy, Mystery | 6 September 1941

Director:

Lewis Seiler

Cinematographer:

Arthur L. Todd

Editor:

Jack Killifer

Production Designer:

Hugh Reticker

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

Although director Lewis Seiler receives screen credit, a 21 May 1941 HR news item notes that A. Edward Sutherland replaced him, pushing back the start of the film. A second news item dated 22 May 1941 contradicts this, however, and states that Sutherland was assigned to another film, Nine Lives Are Not Enough, which he did direct. According to a pre-production press release included in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library, the film was based on a mystery story by Philip Wylie and B. A. Bergman. The SAB does not credit them, however, and the extent of their contribution to the completed film, if any, has not been determined. ...

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Although director Lewis Seiler receives screen credit, a 21 May 1941 HR news item notes that A. Edward Sutherland replaced him, pushing back the start of the film. A second news item dated 22 May 1941 contradicts this, however, and states that Sutherland was assigned to another film, Nine Lives Are Not Enough, which he did direct. According to a pre-production press release included in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library, the film was based on a mystery story by Philip Wylie and B. A. Bergman. The SAB does not credit them, however, and the extent of their contribution to the completed film, if any, has not been determined.

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
16 Aug 1941
---
Daily Variety
13 Aug 1941
---
Film Daily
13 Aug 1941
p. 14
Hollywood Reporter
20 May 1941
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
21 May 1941
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
22 May 1941
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 1941
p. 3
Motion Picture Herald
16 Aug 1941
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Aug 1941
p. 207
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
13 Sep 1941
p. 262
New York Times
26 Sep 1941
p. 26
Variety
13 Aug 1941
p. 8
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
BRAND NAME
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
Art Lueker
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig story
Contr to scr const
Contr to scr const
Contr to dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Arthur Todd
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Gowns
SOUND
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
DETAILS
Release Date:
6 September 1941
Production Date:
mid May--mid Jun 1941
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
20 September 1941
LP10698
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
71 or 77
Length(in feet):
6,401
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

Unemployed engineer Lucky Downing is hired by wealthy Mrs. Bentley to feign an engagement to her granddaughter Elinor Bentley Fairchild. Unknown to Lucky, all of Elinor's former fiancés have suffered horrible accidents. Two of them died as a result and the third, Paul Myron, has been confined to an iron lung for three years. Elinor, who is aware of her grandmother's plan, meets Lucky and his nervous valet Clarence at the station, and Lucky is delighted to discover that she is very beautiful. Her relatives are a different matter: Sinister great-uncle Ames Bentley has a collection of shrunken heads; cousin Tennant Bentley has a drinking problem; and Uncle Hilton Fairchild and his wife Rose will lose part of their fortune when Elinor marries. That night, as Lucky prepares for bed, Tennant objects to his presence in what had been Tennant's room. Lucky agrees to switch rooms with Tennant, and later, Tennant is attacked by a man who resembles Elinor's first fiancé, John Eggleston. In the confusion, Lucky meets reporter Lil Barstow, who has been writing about Elinor's romantic troubles for the local newspaper. Lil tells Lucky the truth about his predecessors and persuades him to leave. He changes his mind and stays, however, when Elinor confesses that she has fallen in love with him. When Lucky tries to stop Lil from writing the story of his broken engagement, she takes him to visit Paul, who expresses his belief that Eggleston is not really dead and is killing Elinor's fiancés out of jealousy. Lil and Lucky head for the cemetery to make sure that Eggleston is really in his grave, and Lucky is ...

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Unemployed engineer Lucky Downing is hired by wealthy Mrs. Bentley to feign an engagement to her granddaughter Elinor Bentley Fairchild. Unknown to Lucky, all of Elinor's former fiancés have suffered horrible accidents. Two of them died as a result and the third, Paul Myron, has been confined to an iron lung for three years. Elinor, who is aware of her grandmother's plan, meets Lucky and his nervous valet Clarence at the station, and Lucky is delighted to discover that she is very beautiful. Her relatives are a different matter: Sinister great-uncle Ames Bentley has a collection of shrunken heads; cousin Tennant Bentley has a drinking problem; and Uncle Hilton Fairchild and his wife Rose will lose part of their fortune when Elinor marries. That night, as Lucky prepares for bed, Tennant objects to his presence in what had been Tennant's room. Lucky agrees to switch rooms with Tennant, and later, Tennant is attacked by a man who resembles Elinor's first fiancé, John Eggleston. In the confusion, Lucky meets reporter Lil Barstow, who has been writing about Elinor's romantic troubles for the local newspaper. Lil tells Lucky the truth about his predecessors and persuades him to leave. He changes his mind and stays, however, when Elinor confesses that she has fallen in love with him. When Lucky tries to stop Lil from writing the story of his broken engagement, she takes him to visit Paul, who expresses his belief that Eggleston is not really dead and is killing Elinor's fiancés out of jealousy. Lil and Lucky head for the cemetery to make sure that Eggleston is really in his grave, and Lucky is attacked and shut in Eggleston's coffin. After Lil rescues him, Lucky suggests that he and Elinor pretend to marry in order to lure the killer out of hiding. She coaxes him to make it a real ceremony, to Lil's dismay. Lil is sent to cover the wedding, and while writing in the library, is startled by a man who appears through a secret panel. Her screams bring Lucky rushing to her aid, but she has disappeared when he arrives. Norton, a policeman masquerading as a butler, locks Lucky and Clarence in the same room, believing that they will be safe there. By accident, they discover the secret panel and find the missing Lil. Lucky is attacked by the killer, but fends him off and reveals that he is Paul disguised by a mask that makes him look like Eggleston. Paul pretended to be confined to an iron mask and killed the others out of revenge when Elinor refused to marry a cripple. With the mystery solved, Lucky confesses that he has fallen in love with Lil and will marry her rather than Elinor.

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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.