THE GHOST GOES WEST
(director/writer: Rene Clair; screenwriters: Geoffrey Keir/Robert E. Sherwood/ from a London Punch piece, “Sir Tristram Goes West.” by Eric Keown; cinematographer: Harold Rosson; editor: Harold Earle-Fischbacher; music: Mischa Spoliansky; cast: Robert Donat (Murdoch Glourie/Donald Glourie), Eugene Pallette (Joe Martin), Jean Parker (Peggy Martin), Ralph Bunker (Ed. L. Bigelow), Elsa Lanchester (Miss Shepperton), Hay Petrie (MacLaggan); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Alexander Korda; Criterion Collection; 1935-UK)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The great French director Rene Clair’ (“Beauties of the Night”/”It happened Tomorrow”/”Forever and a Day”) first film in English is a slightly amusing light comedy/horror film. Clair is on his way to giving up surrealist films for commercial ones, and begins his film-making descent with this well-crafted but uneven temperate work. It was made in London for producer Alexander Korda. Clair arrived in Hollywood over a dispute with Korda for re-cutting some of his scenes. The Ghost Goes West is based on a London Punch piece, “Sir Tristram Goes West,” by Eric Keown, and is written by Robert E. Sherwood and Geoffrey Keir.
While on vacation in Scotland the American nouveau riche grocery magnate millionaire Joe Martin (Eugene Pallette) is influenced by his tourist daughter Peggy (Jean Parker) to buy a six-hundred-year-old Scottish Castle. He buys it with the knowledge it comes with a Scottish ghost Murdoch (Robert Donat) trapped in the castle for 200 years. How Murdoch became a ghost, proves to be quite a story. After dismantling the castle, Joe transports it stone by stone by ocean liner to his estate on the Florida Keys.
The ghost before freed from his state of limbo and able to ascend to heaven, must shed his image of being a coward and exact revenge on his rival MacLaggan (Hay Petrie).Meanwhile Peggy wrestles with the idea that the ghost looks like her boyfriend Donald, a descendent of the ghost.
It has charm as a fantasy Scottish film, but lacks satire and goes nowhere as a socially significant film.
REVIEWED ON 10/24/2014 GRADE: B-