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J. Farrell MacDonald
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On a stormy night, a theatrical producer, his secretary, and playwright Prescott Ames are stranded when their car skids off the road and gets stuck. The three take refuge in the nearby home of Dr. Kent, a friend of Ames. One of Kent's patients, who is staying at the house, is acting strangely, and the others in the house tell the newcomers that she is behaving this way because it is the anniversary of her husband's murder. At dinner, the group begins exchanging accusations about the murder, when suddenly the lights go out, and soon afterwards comes the first in a series of mysterious and fearful events. Written by
The Ghost Walks is a nifty little mystery with a great twist, snappy dialog, and best of all a pansy played to the twittery hilt by character actor Johnny Arthur which never demeans or denigrates his character. Mr. Arthur is great in his role of Homer Erskine bringing great comic relief as the secretary of the Broadway producer Herman Wood, played by another great character actor Richard Carle.
They play off of each other superbly.
Although the acceptable words of the time sissy and cream puff are used to describe the character of Homer, it is never mean spirited or meant as denigration, and are not spoken by the manly males of the film but by his employer, who fires and rehires him every other scene and who displays an almost exasperated affection for his devoted employee.
There is a great scene where Homer tells his boss that he has devoted the best years of his life to him and has been everything but a mother to him.
The mystery angle of the film is very entertaining, and the twist at the end might just leave you in stitches.
For a low budget poverty row picture, this film has superb set decoration and great costuming.
Director Frank Strayer ably handles his cast and this film holds together much better than some of his other low budget mystery attempts, but he had a great script to work with and some wonderful actors to carry it through.
This film is a must see for devotees of poverty row films, old dark house mysteries (they actually managed to work in the lines "It was a dark and stormy night)and it has the added bonus of being an early representation of a gay character in film where nothing bad happens to them in the end.
This movie is available for download in the public domain film section of the Internet Archive at archive.org.
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