During World War II, an American travels to Britain to sell an old house near London that belongs to his family. However, he meets Leslie Trimble who lives in the house and who is ... See full summary »
Starting in 1913 movie director Connors discovers singer Molly Adair. As she becomes a star she marries an actor, so Connors fires them. She asks for him as director of her next film. Many silent stars shown making the transition to sound.
In 1924, stage-struck Boston blueblood Hannah Adams picks up musical star Tim O'Connor and takes him home for dinner. One thing leads to another, and when Tim's show rolls on to Chicago a ... See full summary »
Moving, amusing ghost story, with knockout musical numbers
That's the Spirit (Charles Lamont, 1945) is an absolutely delightful ghost comedy, among the best of the succession made in the '30s and '40s. Jack Oakie plays a vaudeville performer in the early-1900s who gives up his life for that of his wife (June Vincent), as she suffers complications during the birth of their daughter. Unfortunately, he's seen shuffling off this mortal coil with a not unattractive (though bloody creepy) woman who just happens to be the spectre of death. Oakie spends the next 15 years begging to be sent back to Earth to mend his wife's broken heart, and finally heavenly bureaucrat Buster Keaton relents, allowing the chubby comic a week to clear his name and rescue the happiness of his hoofing offspring (Peggy Ryan), herself desperate to climb out from beneath the thumb of grandfather Gene Lockhart.
The film wears its heady sentiment lightly, aided by Oakie's unexpectedly poignant, powerful turn, and there's top support from peerless, pug-faced villain Lockhart, Keaton - well-used for once in a talkie - and Vincent, in a quiet, affecting performance. Ryan, well-known to '40s audiences as part of a double-act with future Singin' in the Rain dancer Donald O'Connor, is also ideal in her key role, starring in a handful of superlative numbers alongside Johnny Coy, with How Come You Do Me Like You Do the absolute standout. That's the Spirit isn't as sophisticated or as slickly-plotted as - say - Here Comes Mr Jordan, placing a greater emphasis on sheer silliness, but I found it completely winning, and was taken aback by Oakie's touching central characterisation.
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