The Ghost Walks (1934) – reviewed by George

This movie is so much like something else I’ve seen, but I can’t figure out what, and I could find no evidence that this film was ever remade. Please, if you know something “leave a comment” (at the bottom of the review).
In a terrible rainstorm with lots of lightning a car is trying to get from New York to somewhere around Cragdale, which is about an 80 mile trip.  The passengers are Herman Wood (Richard Carle), the greatest producer of psychic drama in America, and his secretary Homer Erskine (Johnny Arthur). They are on their way to a private residence to discuss a new play by Prescott Ames (John Miljan), which obviously will be a psychic drama. It is called “The Ghost Walks Again”. The car becomes stuck in mud and they have to leave it, hoping they can find shelter. As they walk they run into Ames himself, also on his way to the home and also stuck in the mud.
The three men find a mansion, are invited in, and meet an assorted group of people in evening wear. They have accidentally come to the right place, and everyone is looking forward to reading Ames’s new play – they are all prepared to read the different parts. The “cast” includes Gloria Shaw (June Collyer), Terry Gray (Donald Kirke), and Beatrice (Eve Southern). There is also a butler, Jarvis (Wilson Benge). They go in to dinner and Beatrice is already seated and acting crazy. In an aside Wood and Erskine are told that this is the anniversary of her husband’s murder – in this house. A bit later Erskine says he really doesn’t care what is served, “Just give me anything but a tomato surprise. I’ve had shocks enough this evening.” Later Wood says he is cold, and Erskine pipes up, “I wish my cousin was here. She’s had a temperature of 106 for two years. They keep her in the cellar and she heats the whole place.”
They never seem to get around to reading the play, but they do tell tales of the house and its unfortunate past, a past filled with murder and accidental death. Finally they have scared Wood and Erskine so much that Wood excuses himself to go to bed and Erskine is right behind him. While Jarvis is showing them to their rooms, the others laugh and laugh: they have just performed Act One of Ames’s new play, and are confident that, when told the truth, Wood will snap it up for his next production.
Then they miss Beatrice, and find her dead. A security guard from the asylum not all that far away shows up and says he is looking for a patient who has escaped: a murderer who always comes here to this house and uses its hidden passages to avoid recapture, often for weeks. Ames admits that this is his first time to actually stay in the house; he only bought it a week or so ago, after a none-too-careful tour.
As the night wears on a portrait’s eyes slide away and a real pair of eyes scans the guests, Terry visits Gloria in her room and is kidnapped from the closet, more security guards show up, and Wood practically has a heart attack. If anyone is more frightened than Wood it is Erskine, and after all the mysteries are solved, and the nut has been recaptured, Wood leaves with Erskine scurrying after him. He refuses to produce the play, and never wants to see any of these people again. It may seem that I have told too much, but there’s a lot more in the nature of a descending bed canopy designed to suffocate the person sleeping there, hidden rooms, including a large room with creepy equipment, and so on.
Clearly the B-est of B movies, there is still some worthy material here. I saw a really bad print and so missed some dialogue, but Richard Carle and Johnny Arthur are funny enough together that it is surprising they were never paired again (as far as I can tell – they had over 100 credits each).
And speaking of B movies: “The Ghost Walks” was a production of Invincible Pictures Corporation. Ever heard of them?
Screen Play by Charles S. Belden, directed by Frank R. Strayer.

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