5.7/10
9
1 user 2 critic

The Ghost Talks (1929)

Miriam Holt hopes to solve the disappearance of a million dollars in bonds allegedly stolen by her late uncle. A team of crooks is following her, though, in hopes she'll uncover the missing... See full summary »

Director:

Lewis Seiler

Writers:

Frederick Hazlitt Brennan (scenario and dialogue), Edward Hammond (play) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Helen Twelvetrees ... Miriam Holt
Charles Eaton Charles Eaton ... Franklyn Green
Carmel Myers ... Marie Haley
Stepin Fetchit ... Christopher Lee
Earle Foxe ... Heimie Heimrath
Henry Sedley Henry Sedley ... Joe Talles
Joe Brown Joe Brown ... Peter Accardi
Clifford Dempsey Clifford Dempsey ... John Keegan
Baby Mack Baby Mack ... Isobel Lee
Arnold Lucy ... Julius Bowser
Bess Flowers ... Sylvia
Dorothy McGowan Dorothy McGowan ... Miss Eva
Mickey Bennett ... Bellboy
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Storyline

Miriam Holt hopes to solve the disappearance of a million dollars in bonds allegedly stolen by her late uncle. A team of crooks is following her, though, in hopes she'll uncover the missing money and they can grab it from her. She checks into a hotel where Franklyn Green works as a desk clerk. Franklyn is learning to be a detective through a correspondence course, and he thinks he's just the guy to help Miriam solve her mystery. The fact that she's a very attractive lady doesn't hurt, either. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

lost film | See All (1) »

Taglines:

EVERYBODY TALKS in this First All-Talking FARCE-COMEDY See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 February 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Badges See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Fox Film Corporation See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (MovieTone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is believed lost. Please check your attic. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Speak, spook!

'The Ghost Talks' isn't a horror movie: it's a comedy, but it isn't even a spooky old-house comedy, as there's no whiff of the supernatural. This movie became slightly weirder in hindsight, due to the presence of Stepin Fetchit. He gives his usual 'yassuh' performance here, but this time round his character is named Christopher Lee ... inevitably reminding modern viewers of the horror-film actor.

The very bland blonde Helen Twelvetrees plays Miriam Holt, whose father embezzled a fortune in bearer bonds, then died. The fate of the bonds is unknown. Meanwhile, Miriam checks into an hotel for some peace and quiet ... but this is a comedy, so you know there's no peace nor quiet to be had. Everybody is sneaking about, spying on everybody else.

Let's see now: there's Carmel Myers as a Woman With A Secret. Arnold Lucy is the fastidious hotel manager, anticipating Franklin Pangborn. Clifford Dempsey is the gruff house detective. The best performance hereabouts is that of Mickey Bennett as a juvenile-delinquent bellhop. The direst performance is that of Charles Eaton (Mary Eaton's brother) as a wanna-be detective who -- get this, please -- actually dresses up as Sherlock Holmes, with a bent pipe and a deerstalker. Gor-blimey!

Like several other late-1920s films with vocal titles -- such as 'The Bat Whispers' -- 'The Ghost Talks' has a title intended to remind audiences that this movie is that new innovation, a *talking* picture, released at a time when many cinemas were still booking silents. I hope that sound engineer Joseph Aiken got paid overtime, because this movie features lots and lots and lots of ambient sound: street noises, huffapuffing railway engines, and so forth. Movie audiences in 1929 loved this novelty, but now it's a lot less charming.

Even more bizarre is someone's decision to hamper several characters in this movie with speech impediments. Helen Twelvetrees utters her dialogue with a lisp. Asked if she always lisps, she replies 'No, only when I thpeak.' (Boom, boom!) Other characters stutter or stammer, or yammer their grammar. I'm astounded that this tactic would have been used at any time, but especially so for it to have been done in a very early talkie. Helen Twelvetrees somewhat resembles May McAvoy, a very beautiful blonde of the late silent era whose stardom was ruined when her first talking roles revealed her extreme and genuine lisp. Didn't the makers of 'The Ghost Talks' realise that movie audiences might assume that Twelvetrees's feigned lisp was genuine ... and that her career would be hurt accordingly?

Matters are not helped by the fact that Helen Twelvetrees gives a wooden performance ... with only enough wood in it to make her, at best, Helen Fourtrees. I'm sympathetic to early talkies, with the technical problems they faced, so I'll rate this unfunny and unthrilling comedy-thriller 4 out of 10 ... but I'm being generous.


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