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The Ghost Goes West
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Ghost Goes West More at IMDbPro »

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32 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Haunting!

8/10
Author: Gary170459 from Derby, UK
23 January 2005

One of my all-time favourite British films, this was my 9th viewing and I still think it's marvellous. Frenchman Rene Clair's prints are all over it, a 1930's British film with so much subtlety, wistfulness and originality was ... unique!

Hard up castle owner sells it to American who de-bricks it off to Florida - along with owners' ghostly ancestor. Eugene Palette who only bettered this performance with My Man Godfrey was outstanding throughout, Jean Parker's character as his daughter was a wee bit wishy-washy but she was lovely to look at, and Robert Donat was, as usual, nearly perfect. At this point I have been ordered by my 25 year old daughter to say how gorgeously beautiful he looked - he was a handsome devil to be sure, and you get two for the price of one in GGW. I wonder what kind of films he'd be making nowadays - surely there'd be no character role nice enough! He was so nice in this I even forgive him his Scottish accent lapsing occasionally. There are a few non-laboured sociological points in it too: The generalised commercialism of America, whether crass or not is repeatedly displayed, my favourite bit being Palette's announcement at dinner of the band marching down the stairs playing "traditional Scottish music"!

Not that it matters of course but does anyone know the answer to What's the difference between a thistle in the heather and a kiss in the dark?!

It would be a poorer film without the lush and swelling background music to accompany Murdoch/Donald and Peggy smooching away up on the castle ramparts at night. The atmosphere created in these scenes by the orchestra's romantic strings plus the gleaming and haunting nitrate photography plus the clever and mysterious lighting is literally Out Of This World, and always leaves a deep impression on me. This is one of the few films where watching and therefore listening to the end credits is essential, for the romantically melancholy fade out. If your TV station has butchered those last 5 seconds, complain!

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25 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

A lovely, warm hearted, escapist experience.

9/10
Author: Anthony Caira from Sheffield, England
23 February 2005

I first saw this film as a child on TV in Australia round 1973 - at which time it was already a very old film and I was only 7 years old.

I guess the fact I'm now 38 and writing about it means it stuck in my mind rather strongly.

I wanted for years and years to see it again and finally did in around 2000 - 27 years later. The childhood magic was still there.

Donat is wonderful. The whole story - escapist, romantic, spooky, fun and historically rich in yes - we know a rather fantasised way.

This is a feel-good film. Films similar to this are being made now - often called 'chick flick's and suchlike, but basically, what is wrong with a movie that makes you feel good? Not really deep, not really cerebral, but magical, funny, heartfelt, and a true escapist experience from our current modern lives,

Absorbing, fun and lovely.

Watch and Enjoy!

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25 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Charming Romantic Fantasy

10/10
Author: Ron Oliver (revilorest@juno.com) from Forest Ranch, CA
31 May 2004

When a haunted Scottish castle is dismantled and removed to Florida THE GHOST GOES WEST, too.

Made under the auspices of producer Sir Alexander Korda, acclaimed director René Clair & distinguished author Robert E. Sherwood, here is a fine little film--very popular in its day--for thoughtful intellects, about things which go bump in the night. Or, rather, one thing in particular: a kilted phantom doomed to stalk his ancestral castle until his family's honour is avenged--irregardless of the actual physical location of his old stones, or whatever romantic complications may ensue.

Handsome Robert Donat brings just the right amount of sophisticated humor to the dual roles of the ghost and his 20th century descendant. The lovely Jean Parker is splendid as an American rich girl very happy to take the Highlands real estate if Mr. Donat comes along with it. Playing her father, Eugene Palette exhibits both bluster & bemusement as the merchant grocer determined on buying old Glourie Castle, ghost and all.

Morton Selten & Hay Petrie have amusing short roles as clan lairds who are fierce antagonists. The marvelous Elsa Lanchester appears far too briefly at the film's conclusion as a paranormal enthusiast.

Acknowledgment should go to Vincent Korda for his atmospheric sets. And just what is the difference betwixt a thistle in the heather & a kiss in the dark?

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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Rene Clair goes English

8/10
Author: raskimono
23 April 2004

Genius director Rene clair, he of the early surrealist movement in film who loved to specialize in comedy does one for Arthur Rank in the thirties. Robert Donat is gifted with the dual roles of the ghost and his descendant. The ghost punishment is to haunt the castle of his family until his honor is restored for he died dishonorably, a no-no in the family tradition. Donat also inherits the castle and manges to get an American family to buy the castle without learning of the ghost. The family decides to ship it to America and on its way the ghost appears to the family and its guests starting a tabloid frenzy. There is love to be settled, money to be made and honor to be righted in this smart romantic comedy. There is very little if any of the Rene Clair trademark in this movie and his direction comes across as very British. But no one can ever say a Rene Clair picture has not aged well and the same can be said for this picture where sets, lighting and photography seem very modern. The Ghost goes West was the biggest grossing movie in the UK in 1936 and was successful for UA in the Us as well. Very soon, Rene Clair himself would be off to Hollywood too.

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15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Very funny Ghost-story

8/10
Author: RIO-15
4 April 2001

A Scottish nobleman in the 18th century gets accidentally killed after his family name had been insulted by another family clan.Until he can redeem his family's honor he must remain a ghost in his castle.Two centuries later his ancestor sells the castle to an American businessman,who moves it to the States stone by stone.The Ghost follows....

A very funny movie fantasy with a charming performance by Robert Donat in a dual role.Eugene Pallette as the american businessman turns in a hysterically funny performance.The contrast between Scots and Americans are used for maximum effect.

Rating:**** out of *****

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14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

The Ghost Delights

Author: smithy-8 from New Jersey
18 November 2003

"The Ghost Goes West" is Robert Donat's only and best romantic comedy. Mr. Donat only made nineteen movies - they were dramas or light dramas. This movie is hysterical. It helps to have Eugene Pallette play the father of the girl (Jean Parker) that Donat's character loves. Mr. Donat plays two roles - Murdock Glourie (the ghost) and Donald Glourie (the current proprietor of the Scottish castle).

This was Eugene Pallette's first great speaking role. The other great roles he played were in: "My Man Godfrey", "Robin Hood", "Zorro", "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington", "The Lady Eve", and "Heaven Can Wait."

It is fun to watch the unknown cast - most of them did not continue working in the 1940's and so on. Only Donat, Parker, and Pallette were lucky to continue working. Ms. Parker is still alive and living comfortably at the Motion Picture Country Home in Woodland Hills, CA.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

I hate America, it's worse than the first day of battle!.

8/10
Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
25 March 2008

Have to say I'm mightily surprised to see some users here state this film is purely escapist entertainment, nothing more, nothing less. Since it ignites its comedy heart with a satirical flame, I do feel that the jovial nature of the beast has meant that the tongue in cheek nature of René Clair's first English speaking picture has been missed by some.

Murdoch Glourie {Robert Donat} is head of the Glourie clan, during a vociferous argument with the laird of the Maclaggen clan, he is so furious about the besmirching of his family name, he pegs out and dies before correcting the unjust smear on the family name. Switch to the modern day and his descendant Donald {Donat again} is frantically trying to keep the monolithic Glourie castle from collapsing under the weight of financial pressure. Hope springs in the form of love, and the beautiful Peggy Martin {Jean Parker}, but with her comes her ebullient father Joe {Eugene Palette}, and his intention to relocate the castle to Florida. Now this is something that Murdoch's ghost is particularly not happy about, and he promptly sets about haunting everyone in sight whilst the selling point fervour of a Ghost coming to America brings about mirth and intriguing problems.

Yes this film is a fantastical light hearted comedy, but its portrayal of American habits is satirical genius, covering materialistic urges and prodding the ribs of the press, The Ghost Goes West is a truly classic film in the Preston Sturges 1940s mould. What else can you think when you see a press headline stating "Kilted Scottish Phantom Fails To Show"? René Clair was annoyed by the interference from producer Alexander Korda, to the point he thought about taking his name off the credits, he didn't have to worry tho, because the film is still his, and crucially, American audiences took it firmly on the chin and embraced the picture for the delightful nudge nudge romp it is. 8/10

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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

DEELIGHTFUL!

9/10
Author: artzau from Sacramento, CA
12 May 2004

Robert Donat and Jean Parker...and Eugene Pallett (whose voice was once described like a semi hauling logs driving down a gravel road). Hey, isn't that enough to get you to see it? Add an amusing story of a young Scottish Laird fending off a businessman who wants to buy his castle and a ghost cursed to salvage his family name, romantic intrigues and you have fun, fun, fun. I remember seeing this film as a kid (hey, it was old even then!) and going back to the old Crystal theater to see it again and again. I've heard rumors that a video exists obtainable through a buyer in Canada but if it crosses your screen on the late show, DON'T MISS IT!

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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

A Scottish Canterville Ghost Story

10/10
Author: theowinthrop from United States
8 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Robert Donat was capable of being a humorous actor - in THE THIRTY NINE STEPS he does the impromptu campaign speech for a man he knows nothing about, introducing the character as "McCrockodile" because he can't see the man's name upside down, and then recouping his error by saying that is the candidate's nickname in Parliamentary circles. In THE ADVENTURES OF TARTU he plays an overly eccentric Iron Guardist (Roumanian fascist) in Nazi Germany, who annoys his hosts by his antics. But in his film career most of his films were serious ones. He was a great serious actor and his fans (who exist to this day) are not upset that he rarely was frivolous. Ironically his one chance to demonstrate comedy (outside the current movie I am reviewing) was never shot with him due to his asthmatic condition: he was supposed to play Will Mossop in HOBSON'S CHOICE, opposite his old film associate Charles Laughton, but instead his role was played by John Mills.

THE GHOST GOES WILD is about a family ghost that has to redeem himself over 190 years after he disgraced his family. Murdoch Glourie (on the surface) resembles James Durie in THE MASTER OF BALLENTRAE. He is a carefree son of a laird (Morton Selden - known as "the Glourie") who is usually romancing the local girls more than making his father proud. The difference, of course, is that James Durie is far more cynical and selfish in the Stevenson story than poor Murdoch. It is 1746, and the Glourie (like all good highlanders) has gone out to support Bonnie Prince Charlie. He calls for his son Murdoch to likewise come, and do his duty. Murdoch is not too thrilled about this, but actually does show up (unlike James Durie, who pretended to show up). He tries to be martial and brave, but the sons of a rival highland chief humiliate him, and in running away to hide, poor Murdoch gets blown up. Before his father dies of a broken heart, he puts a curse on the spirit of his son. Later we hear that the spirit of the father has partly forgiven the ghost of Murdoch, but he insists that Murdoch will ne'er find true peace until he demonstrates his real spirit, and humiliates the descendants of the rival laird.

Generations pass, and the current owner of the castle is Donald Glourie. He is not a rich laird (as his family supported the losing side in 1746 they are lucky they were left with the pittance of their estate that they still have). However, the castle attracts the attention of wealthy American Mr. Martin (Eugene Palette), who is interested in buying it and moving it to America. Donald is willing but he has to tell Murdoch, who is the resident ghost. Murdoch is not too happy, although (like Donald) he is attracted to Peggy Martin (Jean Parker), the daughter of the new owner.

The film shows how the castle is taken apart and moved to the Florida estate of Mr. Martin, exciting the envy of a rival millionaire Ed Bigelow (Ralph Bunker). Bigelow is determined to wreck the happiness and boasting of Martin about his owning the castle (with it's own ghost) and of his daughter's impending marriage to Donald. And in setting up the planned debunking of the story of the ghost in the castle, Bigelow unwittingly sets up the situation for Murdoch's own redemption.

The film is quite amusing, especially as Murdoch discovers that 20th Century America is quite as frightening to him as the Highland army camp of 1746. But he does try to overcome his fears - and in the conclusion definitely succeeds just when it is needed.

The story does bear comparison to Oscar Wilde's THE CANTERVILLE GHOST, with a coward who is cursed by his father but redeems himself at the end. The performances of Donat, Palette, Selden (splendid as ever), Parker, and Bunker are all quite good: Donat, in particular, playing two roles - one a fantastic type of character - with their own differences in personality and viewpoints (Donald being more willing to consider the positive side of the castle sale than poor tradition bound Murdoch). The parts of the film work quite well together, fantasy balancing nicely with modern satire on oneupmanship and social prestige.

How true was this type of thing? Well, one finds it was true. If you visit William Randolph Hearst's San Simeon in California, you will be told of how portions of castles were purchased by Hearst in his European travels and used in building his American palace. Other millionaires did the same thing. It was conspicuous consumption, but given the damage to castles and palaces in Europe in two world wars, such spending habits actually were beneficial for preserving these structures. Whether actual ghosts were brought over too I could not say one way or another.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Double Donat

6/10
Author: utgard14 from USA
27 July 2014

Scotsman Murdoch Glourie (Robert Donat) dies a coward in a battle with the rival MacLaggan clan. Murdoch is forced to haunt the family castle until he can get a MacLaggan to admit that one Glourie is worth fifty MacLaggans. Two hundred years later, his descendant Donald Glourie (also played by Donat) has to sell the castle to pay off debts. Pretty American Peggie Martin (Jean Parker) convinces her wealthy father to buy the castle and ship it, stone by stone, to the U.S.

Enjoyable British romantic comedy with a good cast and pleasant tone. Robert Donat shines in dual roles. Jean Parker is adorable and likable. Eugene Palette is always a treat. The rest of the cast is mostly made up of Brits and are fun to watch. While I do like it, I admit it drags some in the middle after a strong start. It finishes nicely though.

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