Topper Returns (1941)

topper returns 1941

Starts out really well and then falls into screwball comedy. Joan Blondell is excellent but Billie Burke is beyond annoying. Her part calls for her to be that way but it’s still too much. Donald MacBride as a police Sergeant is way,way over the top. Roland Young is good as the confused Cosmo Topper once again dealing with a ghost.

Ann Carrington (Carol Landis) and her friend Gail Richards (Joan Blondell) are in a cab headed for Ann’s home when a figure all in black puts a rifle bullet in one of the tires. The cab comes real close to going over a cliff. Bob the driver (Dennis O’Keefe) goes for a two mile walks to get a tow truck.

The girls are impatient and start to hitchhike. They’re picked up by Cosmo Topper (Roland Young) and his chauffeur Eddie (Eddie “Rochester” Anderson). They drive past Topper’s house and his wife (Billie Burke) doesn’t like seeing Gail sitting on his lap as they drive by.

At the Carrington house the girls are greeted by a creepy household staff. Then they meet Ann’s father’s doctor (George Zucco).  Gail stays downstairs as Ann sees her father (H.B.Warner). This is the first time she’s ever seen him. He says it was her mothers’ wish that she grow up in China. She died in a mine cave in. He says Ann will inherit everything the next day when she turns twenty-one.

The girls are shown to their rooms. One has a large window that opens onto a sheer drop down to the rocks and water. Gail likes the huge bed in Ann’s room and they switch. That night the man in black stabs Gail to death thinking she’s Ann. Gail’s ghost goes out the window and heads for Topper’s place.

Gail wants Topper to go to the Carrington place to find out what happened to her. He has Eddie drive him over. Eddie panics as he sees the car seat go down. He can’t see Gail. At the Carrington’s they get out and Eddie sees footprints next to him. That’s enough and he jumps in the car and speeds back home.

Topper and Gail find her body. He goes to call the police but the phone is dead. Now the household led by Dr.Jervis with a gun come down the stairs and confront Topper. Meanwhile Eddie is packing to leave when Mrs.Topper says she wants to go to the Carrington’s to find Cosmo. Eddie says he wants to go back to Mr.Benny where these kinds of things don’t happen. They drive to the Carrington’s.

Now the movie gets into screwball land. Bits include trick chairs that toss Eddie into water and he then can’t get out because a seal keeps knocking him back in. Bob the cab driver shows up wanting his money. Someone must have fixed the phone line and the police are called. Showing up in Sgt.Roberts (Donald MacBride) and his men. He’s over the top loud and obnoxious.

There’s a lot more silliness to come before the twist ending. It’s like seeing two different movies. The first half hour holds a lot of promise before sinking. Still Joan Blondell makes it worthwhile.

Billie Burke will always be known as Glinda the Good Witch in 1939’s “The Wizard Of Oz.”



About vintage45

I'm a big fan of vintage books,movies,TV shows and music. I encourage everyone to patronize your local used book/record store and pick up some of the good stuff. My posts are capsule reviews of some favorites that you may want to investigate. The albums posted aren't really reviews but items from my collection that are still available. I try and point out highlights of each one and let the music speak for itself. Thanks to all for checking out the blog.
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