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"The Ghosts of Berkeley Square" - British Haunted Comedy
released on October 30, 1947
The Actors: Robert Morley (General Jumbo Burlap and Nawab of Bagwash), Felix Aylmer (Colonel H. Bulldog Kelsoe), Yvonne Arnaud (Millie), Claude Hulbert (Merryweather), Abraham Sofaer (Benjamin Disraeli), Ernest Thesiger (Dr. Cruickshank of Psychical Research Society), Marie Lohr (Lottie), Martita Hunt (Lady Mary), A.E. Matthews (General Bristow), John Longden (Mortimer Digby), Ronald Frankau (Tex B. Farnum), Wilfrid Hyde-White (staff Captain), Martin Miller (professor), Wally Patch (foreman), Esme Percy (Vizier), Mary Jerrold (Lettie), Robert Beaumont (King's equerry), Madge Brindley (matron), Strelsa Brown (Rajah's Amazon Attendant), Harry Fine (1914 Colonel), Diane Hart (Minette), James Hayter (Captain Dodds), Gerhard Kempinski (croupier)
Only a Ghost of a Chance . . .
As our ghost story opens we are at a dinner for ghosts and the host ghosts will tell us the story of their demise and career haunting Number 7, Berkeley Square. Two high-ranking military men serving for Queen Anne purchase Number 7 Berkeley Square and prepare for a visit by the Queen to enjoy tea with the Generals. In the meantime the Generals disagree with battle plans from a superior so they plan to kidnap him and hold him hostage until after the planned battle . . . they devise a trap door in front of the fireplace and determine to drop the visiting military leader through the floor to a soft mattress below, and hold him captive until the battle is over . . . But just before the Queen visits they decide to test the trap door, and alas, they have forgotten to place the mattress under the trap door . . . and they drop to the hard concrete basement floor and pass into the next world . . . Almost. The Queen, about to enter for tea, is told that the men have died and she should not enter, and the Queen is terribly upset, returning to the palace. Our two ghosts prepare for departure to heaven, but are informed by the ghost gods that they must remain on earth haunting Number 7 Berkeley Square forever . . . or until a reigning monarch steps foot into Berkeley Square. Over the next couple of centuries our two ghosts, played by Robert Morley and Felix Aylmer, do everything in their ghostly power to arrange for a visit by royalty . . . Alas, over the years, they get very close to having a royal visit, but something always goes awry before Royalty enters the house. A French lady brings many beautiful young girls to the mansion and sets up a gambling hall that one day the King wants to visit, until the fight breaks out and the ladies are arrested and the house is once again empty. There are more occupants over the years and more mishaps . . . until we come to World War II, and the bombing of London . . . Our two ghosts watch the bombing, but as ghostly luck would have it, a bomb hits Number 7 Berkeley Square and the mansion is turned to rubble. As our two hapless ghosts bemoan their misfortune, a car drives up and . . . Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
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Make them laugh, make them cry, and back to laughter. What do people want to go to the theatre for? An emotional exercise . . . Mary Pickford
Some of my Favorites:
Probably my all time favorite movie, My Man Godfrey in 1936 not only gives us an comedic peek at the wealthiest and poorest during the Great Depression, but also was the vehicle for Carole Lombard to create the movie icon of the 'dumb blonde screwball comedy' that is a popular theme even today.
Meet John Doe - 1941: The Frank Capra classic set in the Great Depression era that pits the common man against the political masters. You can't be a fan of old movies until you watch Frank Capra's old movies. This one premiered seventy years ago, and it still stirs our emotions and thoughts now. It is as timely as if it were produced today.
Angel and the Bad Man - 1947: One of the great teachers of the Secret Law of Attraction is Dr. Joe Vitale . . . but before he was even born actor John Wayne paid for and produced this Cowboy Western that featured The Law of Attraction.
The Time of Your Life - 1948: James Cagney financed this strangely different feel-good movie, and he plays the part of Joe, a barfly that tries to live his life by making everyone around him better. I watch this one often, and try to become more like Joe every day.
Painted Faces - 1929: Comedy legend Joe E. Brown is a circus clown in a surprisingly serious role as a juror in a Christmas week murder trial who tells the other jurors a story that will change their verdicts in a pre-code drama that could not have been made a few years later.
Charade - 1963: It doesn't get much better than Cary Grant and Audry Hepburn in a tale of death, deception, spies and lost wealth as a woman tries to sort out the good guys from the bad guys in this cold-war spy thriller love story.