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The Return of Peter Grimm (1935)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy | 13 September 1935 (USA)
The ghost of a recently deceased family patriarch tries to help his surviving relatives, in part by preventing a marriage that he knows will go wrong.


George Nichols Jr., Victor Schertzinger (uncredited)


David Belasco (from the play written by), Francis Edward Faragoh (screen play)




Complete credited cast:
Lionel Barrymore ... Peter Grimm
Helen Mack ... Catherine
Edward Ellis ... Dr. Andrew Macpherson
Donald Meek ... Mayor Everett Bartholomew
George P. Breakston ... William Van Dam (as George Breakston)
Allen Vincent ... Frederik
James Bush ... James
Ethel Griffies ... Mrs. Martha Bartholomew
Lucien Littlefield ... Colonel Tom Lawton
Ray Mayer Ray Mayer ... Circus Clown
Greta Meyer ... Marta


Cantakerous, opinionated Peter Grimm is a seventh generation member of a Dutch immigrant family that founded a family flower farm two centuries earlier. Realizing he has a bad heart, Grimm extracts promises and concessions from those he expects will survive him and draws up his will appropriately. He extracts a promise from his beloved foster daughter Catherine that she will marry his newly-arrived nephew Frederik although she loves James, a hired hand on the farm. Grimm's hopes that the farm will remain in the family are given a blow when the mercenary Frederik announces his intentions to sell the entire operation to a hated Grimm rival When Grimm returns as a spirit he discovers a terrible situation of his own creation. His "friends" are dissatisfied with their bequests, young William's health is failing, and Catherine seems headed for an unhappy marriage. Through the dying William and his old friend and confidante, Dr. Macpherson, Grimm's spirit tries to reverse the harm he's done. Written by duke1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

13 September 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Voz do Outro Mundo See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Four years later Lionel Barrymore would escort another young man to the afterlife in On Borrowed Time. See more »


The sign at the train station says that it is 85 miles from New York, and 25 miles from Albany. But Albany and New York City are around 150 miles apart, not 110. See more »


Peter Grimm: [to the dying William] Sleep... sleep. I wish you the pleasantest dreams a little boy can have... in this world.
See more »


Referenced in The Heavenly Kid (1985) See more »


What Shall the Wedding Breakfast Be?
Composer unknown
Played by a circus calliope and sung by Ray Mayer
Reprised at the end by Lionel Barrymore and George P. Breakston
See more »

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User Reviews

Decent Fantasy
11 August 2012 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

The Return of Peter Grimm (1935)

** (out of 4)

Interesting remake of a 1926 silent (with Janet Gaynor) has an elderly man (Lionel Barrymore) dying but coming back to life so that he can help his family and especially a young woman (Helen Mack) he gave bad advice to, which could hurt her future. THE RETURN OF PETER GRIMM is a rather interesting film but I'd say it falls a little short of being a complete winner for a number of reasons. One thing that I didn't care too much about is that it seems like the thing never knows what it wants to do. Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? Is it some sort of fantasy? It blends all three of those elements but I'd say all three are less than winning in regards to how well they work. The first portion of the film has Barrymore doing what only he could and that's be the strong figure who also can be a grump. There's no question he could play this type of role in his sleep and he does a very good job with it here. The second portion of the film has him dying and coming back to life to hear what some of his "friends" said about him at his will and then we get to his personal connection with the characters. Most of these scenes just weren't all that funny and the tender moments weren't nearly as effective as they needed to be. Barrymore, Mack and the supporting cast certainly help keep the film moving but it's just missing something. Barrymore's "ghost" comes from him being out of focus on the screen, which is somewhat weird to watch but I'll admit it did give the film a strange atmosphere.

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