The third out of four films Bud Abbott and Lou Costello made for Universal in 1941, Hold That Ghost is the duo's first foray into spooky territory, and finds the former vaudevillians in fine fettle, pretty much at the height of their physical and comedic powers. Alas, it also features that bane of the 30s and 40s comedy film - unnecessary musical numbers. The 86 minute film wastes nearly 10 minutes of that screentime by bookending performances by annoying "talk-singing" bandleader Ted Lewis and the Andrews Sisters. The sisters are terrific, but seem shoehorned in, mainly because they previously featured in A & C's first film, Buck Privates, and that was such a smash that the studio apparently figured it was best to keep to the same formula. Luckily the songs are pretty painless and it isn't long before the movie proper kicks into gear.
Per usual in these early Abbott and Costello movies, the plot is mostly just a bit of nonsense upon which to hang several of the boys' finely-honed routines, patented schtick and slapstick business. The movie opens with Chuck Murray (Abbott) and Ferdinand "Ferdy" Jones (Costello) trying to make a go of it as fill-in waiters at a posh restaurant and nightclub. Needless to say, things don't go so well, as Ferdy makes one cock-up after another, under the baleful eye of a snooty maitre-d' (Mischa Auer). An example of the quick, witty dialogue woven throughout the movie occurs in this early exchange between Ferdy and his first customers: an attractive young gold digger and her grouchy sugar daddy:
Ferdy: Good evening, folks. Want to start off with some soup?"
Old man: I don't like soup.
Ferdy: Gimme a reason.
Halloween has long been my favorite holiday, and October my favorite time of year. I love that the days are warm yet the nights cool. There's a nice crispness in the autumn air, the leaves change color and fall from the trees, there are pumpkins, corn husks and scary decorations everywhere...and of course, TV stations flood their schedules with horror movies and yearly specials. It doesn't hurt that my birthday falls in October, as well. I may have long outgrown trick or treating, dressing up in costume and visiting haunted house attractions, but a part of me always thrills each year as October dawns.
Growing up in the 70s, I was a regular viewer of monster movies; every Saturday would find me sprawled on the floor in front of our dinky 19 inch TV, eyes rapt, as KSTW Channel 11's Sci-Fi Theater unspooled monster movie hits both schlocky and sublime. Later, as teenagers are wont to do, I consumed more than my fair share of splatteriffic horror films, the gorier and grislier the better. As I've gotten older, my tolerance for such fare has diminished considerably...except for around this time of year. This season brings with it an incipient desire to curl up with a hefty collection of great ghost stories, to decorate my house with miniature pumpkins, bobble-head Frankensteins and witch window decals, and to comb through my DVD collection and indulge in a month-long monster bash.
Even though this blog wasn't around last Halloween, I thought I'd take a moment and share my thoughts on my own personal 2011 scary movie challenge. It was a banner year in my adult movie viewing life, as I made a concerted effort to watch as many genre flicks during last October as possible and, much to my surprise, managed a solid 36 films. (Note: This is total amateur hour compared to some online horror movie freaks and geeks out there, who regularly surpass 100 films in 31 days every year).
This year, various real life contingencies preclude me from attempting anything like that number again, but I do plan to chime in on a baker's dozen of spooky delights later in the month, so stay tuned. In the meantime, let's take a little trip back to this time last year in The Stalking Moon's video diary:
Opinionated ramblings about new and old movies (mostly old, as that's the way I like 'em!)
Blogs of Note
Stuart Galbraith IV's World Cinema Paradise
Movie Morlocks (TCM's Classic Movie Blog)
50 Westerns from the 50s
Riding the High Country
Tipping My Fedora
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Laura's Miscellaneous Musings
Classic TV and Film Cafe
Just a Cineast
She Blogged By Night
Chess, Comics, Crosswords, Books, Music, Cinema
Out of the Past -
A Classic Film Blog
Pretty Sinister Books
They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To
In So Many Words...
Greenbriar Picture Shows
My Love of Old Hollywood
Tales of the Easily Distracted
Another Old Movie Blog
Lasso the Movies
Kevin's Movie Corner
Films From Beyond the Time Barrier
Carole & Co.
Rupert Pupkin Speaks
Vienna's Classic Hollywood
The Lady Eve's Reel Life
ClassicBecky's Brain Food
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