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Colonel Breckinridge Martshall (Walter Catlett), a self-appointed southern colonel, brings his two daughters,Melinda (Gloria Jean) and Susanna (Martha O'Driscoll), to New York City so they can sing at Carnegie Hall. He buys a haunted house from Chambers ('Walter Kingsford' qv)) a crooked real estate dealer. The "ghosts" start their work on the first night and Susanna runs next door to a nightclub owned by Olsen (Ole Olsen) and Johnson (Chic Johnson)and they agree to help her...and set out to rid the house of the ghosts. They have little trouble getting rid of the tap-dancing ghost but the remaining ones intend to stay. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
1944's "Ghost Catchers" remains a seldom seen musicomedy from Universal's busy wartime era, the third of four titles made there by the almost forgotten team of Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson. As near as I can figure, the pair were so similar in appearance that you can only tell them apart by the fact that Olsen was taller, with Johnson most often howling at his own antics. While I truly enjoyed their previous feature, 1943's "Crazy House," I was frankly bored with this one, way too much music taking up screen time for the first half of a brief 67 minute film that seemed much longer. They had only one interesting moment, a little dig at Abbott and Costello (done before in "Crazy House"), who had a huge success with 1941's "Hold That Ghost," one of their finest films (the same running figures used during the opening credits for both features). Here, we have a Southern Colonel (Walter Catlett) and his two singing daughters (Gloria Jean and Martha O'Driscoll), who rent a house haunted by a tap dancing ghost, played in his one sequence by perennial drunk Jack Norton. While the invisible spectre is not malevolent, there are others trying to scare away our protagonists, even murdering the caretaker (Alec Craig); gangsters hoping to make off with their hootch. The two most noticeable crooks are Lon Chaney (in a bear costume) and Andy Devine (in a horse's head), while cult favorite Tor Johnson can be spotted among the rest (among the musical guests are Morton Downey and drummer Mel Torme). While Devine gets to indulge a little, poor Chaney is completely wasted, enjoying better roles in his forthcoming Abbott and Costello movies. A better ounce of trivia involves the criminal mastermind wearing one of Chaney's Mummy masks (looking most like the one from the still forthcoming "The Mummy's Curse"). The adorable Gloria Jean does get to show off why she was Deanna Durbin's main competition at Universal, and lovely Martha O'Driscoll would see more of Lon Chaney the following year, in "Here Come the Co-eds" (with Abbott and Costello), "The Daltons Ride Again," and her most famous credit, "House of Dracula." Olsen and Johnson would do one more feature in 1945, "See My Lawyer," before returning to the stage, where they continued performing for the rest of their days (Bela Lugosi appeared in one of their early talkie films, 1931's "50 Million Frenchmen," shot in two strip Technicolor).
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