Favorite things about… The Canterville Ghost (1944)

The favorite film:
The Canterville Ghost, a 1944 fantasy-comedy directed by Jules Dassin

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

The synopsis:
In 17th-century England, Sir Simon de Canterville committed a cowardly act. After fleeing a duel, Simon was doomed to die in the castle and walk its halls until a Canterville descendant could commit an act of courage. By 1943, the Canterville castle is deserted under the ownership of a six-year-old descendant… but the ghost of Simon remains on the property. When American soldiers begin using the castle as lodgings, Simon may finally have the opportunity to break the curse.

The cast:
Charles Laughton as Sir Simon
Robert Young as Cuffy Williams
Margaret O’Brien as Lady Jessica
Reginald Owen as Lord Canterville
Una O’Connor as Mrs. Umney

Fun facts:

  • This film is loosely based on a short story by Oscar Wilde.
  • Norman Z. McLeod was originally attached to direct the project, but dropped out after about a month of shooting. Some sources suggest that star Charles Laughton insisted that he be fired, while the “official” reason for his leaving was creative differences.
  • The film was generally well-received upon release, with mostly-positive reviews from Variety and The New York Times.
(Image via allmovie.com)

(Image via allmovie.com)

Favorite things:

  • The beautiful “Famous Ghosts of England” book that appears at the film’s opening
  • Charles Laughton’s first appearance as Simon, wearing an elaborately feathered hat and traveling on horseback
  • “I’ll teach thee, a kinsman is a kinsman!”
  • Little Jessica losing her fear of the ghost in order to fulfill her noble obligation of welcoming the Canterville Castle’s new guests
  • The soldiers’ reaction to learning that “Lady Jessica” is a child
  • “What made that spot was… BLOOD!”
  • “You know what it says in the little book about respecting English tradition. If she says the castle is haunted… who are we to quibble?”
  • “And every night now, on the stroke of twelve, his guilty spirit comes through that door and walks the halls! Supposedly, in search of a kinsman.”
  • The blood stain on the floor mysteriously reappearing, after a jolt of thunder
  • “Alright, kiddies. Now, bunk in and go beddie bye-bye.”
  • Ghostly Laughton’s evil laugh when his apparition first appears to the soldiers
  • “Hey, Grandpa! Your… shirttail’s hanging out!”
(Image via kino.de)

(Image via kino.de)

  • Dressing up as a ghost, in order to scare a ghost. A fool-proof tactic.
  • “Hey! Ghost! Where’re ya hiding?”
  • “Sir, my record speaks for itself: an unbroken reign of terror for 300 years.”
  • Cuffy saying that his father never looked into the family ancestry for fear of finding someone who was “in the hot seat”
  • “There is no such thing as a ghost and military regulations make no provision for same.”
  • The dance party
  • “I believe they call it woogie boogie!”
  • “Gaze upon them, ourrrr noblllle family.”
  • “I spit in thine eye!”
  • The sudden shift to tense action as Cuffy attempts his first “courageous” act
  • “I’m a Canterville, alright. Just as cowardly as the rest of them.”
  • “Sir Simon de Canterville… 1603 – 1943”
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