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The Living Ghost (1942)

Wise-cracking ex-detective Nick Trayne is called in to try to find the whereabouts of wealthy kidnap victim Walter Craig. Craig unexpectedly turns up alive but with apparent brain damage, ... See full summary »


William Beaudine


Howard Dimsdale (original story), Joseph Hoffman (screenplay)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
James Dunn ... Nick Trayne
Joan Woodbury ... Billie Hilton
Paul McVey ... Ed Moline
Vera Gordon ... Sister Lapidus
Norman Willis ... Cedric, the Butler
J. Farrell MacDonald ... Police Lt. 'Pete' Peterson
Minerva Urecal ... Delia Phillips
George Eldredge George Eldredge ... Tony Weldon
Jan Wiley ... Tina Craig
Edna Johnson Edna Johnson ... Helen Craig
Danny Beck Danny Beck ... Doubletalker
Gus Glassmire Gus Glassmire ... Walter Craig
Lawrence Grant ... Dr. Bruhling
Howard Banks Howard Banks ... Arthur Wallace
J. Arthur Young J. Arthur Young ... George Phillips


Wise-cracking ex-detective Nick Trayne is called in to try to find the whereabouts of wealthy kidnap victim Walter Craig. Craig unexpectedly turns up alive but with apparent brain damage, leaving him in a zombified state. Trayne and his perky assistant Billie Hilton have their work cut out for them as they must sift through a houseload of possible suspects to get at the culprit. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


SPOOK CHASER... A reckless sleuth follows the trail of a white ZOMBIE!


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

27 November 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Walking Nightmare See more »

Filming Locations:

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Monogram Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film was first telecast in Los Angeles Tuesday 5 April 1949 on KTLA (Channel 5), in New York City Thursday 14 April 1949 on WCBS (Channel 2), in Syracuse NY Wednesday 4 May 1949 on WHEN (Channel 8), and in Cincinnati Friday 10 June 1949 on WKRC (Channel 11). See more »


When Nick shines his flashlight at the cuckoo clock, the light stays on after a few second after Nick moves the flashlight elsewhere. See more »


Nick Trayne: [locked in a room] We could be trapped here for weeks, or months.
Billie Hilton: Oh Nick.
Nick Trayne: And if we are, by the time they find us, it'll be too late.
See more »


Featured in Doc of the Dead (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

"Why must there be a butler in every murder mystery?"
29 July 2017 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

Nick Trayne (James Dunn) is a former detective for the D.A.s' office who's now earning a living as a professional "listener". (Meaning he listens to customers voice their problems in life.) He's convinced to return to his old line of work to help solve a baffling case. A prominent financier, Walter Craig (Gus Glassmire), has gone missing. Although his family fears the worst, he later turns up alive, albeit in a zombie like condition. With the lovely young Billie Hilton (Joan Woodbury) at his side, he pursues all leads in a determined fashion.

While the plot is routine stuff (with a classic, age old motivation for our mysterious antagonist), "The Living Ghost" garners most of its entertainment value through its healthy comedy quotient. Quips come flying at a rapid pace. Nick is the kind of guy with a wise ass comment for almost every occasion, but unlike Leonard Maltin, I found a lot of his dialogue quite priceless. Dunn - who later won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" - is ideal in the role of this goofy hero. He has good chemistry with many of his co- stars and there is some hilarious banter. The exchanges between him and deadpan butler Norman Willis are standouts.

Don't let the title fool you into thinking this is a horror film. "The Living Ghost" barely qualifies for that genre, although there is some wonderfully spooky and atmospheric stuff that takes place in an old run down house. Director William Beaudine does a fine job with the pacing; this zippy movie only runs about one hour long. And just in case we didn't "get it", Trayne explains it all for us in the concluding minutes, just like many a mystery story through the years.

And Dunn, Woodbury, and Beaudine do send us away with an amused smile on our faces.

Six out of 10.

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