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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Topper Returns (1941)

While staying in a large forbidding old mansion, a young woman (Joan Blondell) is stabbed to death in her bedroom. Since she switched bedrooms with her best friend (Carole Landis), it's clear that it's the friend who was the intended victim. The "ghost" of the dead girl coerces a neighbor (Roland Young) into helping her solve the murder. The third and final TOPPER film is may lack the glamour and sophistication of the first film but if you're a fan (as I am) of old dark house murder mysteries with secret doors, revolving walls, ghosts haunting and masked killers on the loose then this one is for you. It's a comedy, of course, rather than a fright movie but everything comes at you so quickly that you're clinging to every quip lest you miss a punchline. The real scene stealer here is Billie Burke as Topper's ditzy wife ("Isn't it strange that it's always cold in the winter and so warm in the summer?") whose deliveries had me grinning all the way through the movie. Truly, they don't make them like this anymore. Directed by Roy Del Ruth. With Dennis O'Keefe, Eddie Rochester Anderson, Patsy Kelly, George Zucco, H.B. Warner, Rafaela Ottiano and Donald MacBride.

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