One brave act and the spell is broken! Charles Laughton (as the ghost), Robert Young and Margaret O'Brien conjure peals of merry laughter out of an exuberant, ingenious comedy based on an Oscar Wilde tale and cleverly directed by Jules Dassin.
One brave act and the spell is broken! The specter of Sir Simon de Canterville has haunted Canterville Castle for 300 years, ever since he was walled up alive for cowardice. A daring deed by a kinsman will free his spirit. Unfortunately, the Cantervilles are a timorous lot and Simon is out of luck. Then World War II GIs are billeted at the castle and among them is Canterville descendent Cuffy Williams. But could Cuffy be cursed with the family lily liver?
Charles Laughton (as the ghost), Robert Young (as Cuffy) and Margaret O'Brien (as the castle's six-year-old current owner) conjure peals of merry laughter out of an exuberant, ingenious comedy based on an Oscar Wilde tale and cleverly directed by Jules Dassin (Rififi, Topkapi).
In Jule Dassin's adaptation of Oscar Wild's THE CANTERVILLE GHOST, a group of American soldiers waiting to fight in World War II are billeted in Canterville Castle. They are amused when Lady de Canterville, their hostess, instead of being the expected dowager, turns out to be seven-year-old Jessica (Margaret O'Brien). They are also amused to discover that the house is haunted. When Jessica's ancestor, Simon de Canterville (Charles Laughton), ran away from a duel, he was walled up in an alcove, his ghost doomed to roam the corridors of the ancestral home. The soldiers refuse to be intimidated by the ghost. Then, one of them, Cuffy Williams (Robert Young), discovers that he too is a de Canterville, and Jessica thinks he might be able to save the family honor.
In 1887, Oscar Wilde wrote his story about the Canterville ghost, telling of an American family who annoy the ghost by refusing to believe in him. In updating the setting of the tale to wartime Britain, screenwriter Edwin Harvey Blum and director Jules Dassin radically rework Wilde's story. The result is an amusing tale, with Margaret O'Brien as the grave young heroine, Young as the charming American struggling with the Canterville curse, and Laughton having a great time as the weary ghost.
Theatrical release in New York City: July 28, 1944.
In the 1940s, Jules Dassin taught at the Actors Lab with, among others, Jeff Corey. Many Hollywood actors who were unsatisfied with their film work went to the Actors Lab. Among those in Dassin's class was Charles Laughton, The Canterville Ghost himself. Later, as a result of the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings, both Dassin and Corey were blacklisted, and the Actors Lab was forced out of existence.
Although Margaret O'Brien's career stretched into the 1990s, the child star's biggest successes--which included JANE EYRE (1944), MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944) and LITTLE WOMEN (1949), as well as THE CANTERVILLE GHOST--all came before she was 13 years old.
Additional cast: William Moss (Hector); Bobby Readlick (Eddie); and Marc Cramer (Bugsy McDougle).
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