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Goodness! A Ghost (1940) Online

Goodness! A Ghost (1940) Online
Original Title :
Goodness! A Ghost
Genre :
Movie / Short / Comedy
Year :
Directror :
Harry D'Arcy
Writer :
George Jeske,Arthur V. Jones
Type :
Time :
Rating :

Harry's grandfather's spirit inhabits his old policeman's uniform, which is being used in an amateur play.

Goodness! A Ghost (1940) Online

Harry's grandfather's spirit inhabits his old policeman's uniform, which is being used in an amateur play. {locallinks-homepage}
Cast overview:
Harry Langdon Harry Langdon

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As mentioned on another review on this thread, Harry Langdon was a considerable silent film talent in the 1920s, usually put with Chaplin, Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Raymond Griffith as the five best comic geniuses. Today most people recall the first three, Fatty Arbuckle, Laurel & Hardy, and W.C. Fields easily (the latter three because they succeeded in going further in sound movies than expected). Langdon and Griffith were both sort of forgotten as there were too few films of theirs to readily watch for comment. There have been attempts to raise Langdon and Griffith up to their former status, but the attempts have not been very successful.

Langdon's career fell (if we are to believe his one time director and part mentor, Frank Capra) due to a swollen head. He believed, after the success of TRAMP, TRAMP, TRAMP, and THE STRONG MAN, that he was a great comic genius who could replace Chaplin. That may be true, but Capra's account is also self-serving (though it sounds reliable). Langdon's view of his comedy was darker than Capra's, and that may have been a mistake, but it is also possible that Langdon's decision to drop his connection with Capra was due to this split in viewpoint.

After a total of six features, three of which Capra was to guide, Langdon fell into oblivion. Occasionally he reappeared to some advantage: he did support for Al Jolson in the Rodgers and Hart musical film HALLELUJAH I'M A BUM, and he did show up in support of Oliver Hardy in ZENOBIA. But most of his work was as a gag writer for Laurel & Hardy, and occasionally he did appear as the star of a comedy short. GOODNESS, A GHOST is one of his last shorts.

An RKO production, it is a minor film. Langdon does not do badly when he tries, but the material is distinctly second rate. He is the sound effects man in a theater group, who has lent the actors his grandfather's police uniform. The actor playing the police officer in the play quits after nearly being bashed in the head by a sand bag - he feels the suit is haunted. He quits the show and Langdon is made the new police officer in the play.

It turns out that the grandfather is haunting the suit, and he causes a scared Langdon to go out into the alley behind the theater to relax for a moment. A young woman runs to him and insists he help her arrest some crooks (she thinks he is a real cop - although his uniform is forty years behind the times). The rest of the film is how Langdon is forced to confront the three criminals, and how (with the assistance of his grandfather's ghost) he beats them up.

The film makes little sense. A running joke in the conclusion of the film is that the grandfather's ghost boards a model bi-plane and uses it to attack the three criminals. But the model was too obviously placed from the start and the viewer figures it will play some role in the film's conclusion. But when it does it seems out-of-place and ridiculous. The second part of the short has a lot of unexplained plot business going on that we don't understand (the woman who forces Langdon to try to confront the criminals turns out to have been the girlfriend/moll of one of them - why did she turn against them?).

"You Tube" has been the source of many wonderful little pieces of motion picture history that are otherwise unavailable to most of us. But GOODNESS, A GHOST is not one of these - unless it shows how Harry Langdon was doing mediocre comedy shorts four years before he died.


This "comedy" short featured an older Harry Langdon. Harry was an awfully famous actor in the silent days, but by the thirties and forties, he was mostly a supporting actor, gag writer and occasional director. His glory days of the silents were long, long behind him. Because I have enjoyed his silents, I decided to give this much later comedy short a try...and in hindsight, I wish I hadn't. Not only does the film do nothing for his career or remind us of his silent glory, but it manages to be one of the worst comedy shorts I have ever seen. It simply isn't funny and the plot is one of the most bizarre and pointless messes I have ever seen. It was so bad that I can't even think of a single Three Stooges short that was worse--thought some of the supposed gags did seem more at home in a Stooges film than one of Langdon's. In particular, the god-awful airplane segment near the end is just terrible and is even less funny than the squirting oyster from Three Stooges and Abbott and Costello films. Awful, dumb and not the least bit charming. I'm not sure I'll ever try to watch another Langdon sound movie again!!! Harry must have really, really needed the money to make this bilge.