Newest Reviews
Man Who Sold His Skin, The
No Man of God
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
Scenes with Beans
Quiet Place Part II, A
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Duel to the Death
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Yakuza Princess
Djinn, The
New Order
Original Cast Album: Company
Martyrs Lane
Paper Tigers, The
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The
ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, The
Collini Case, The
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, The
Plan A
When I'm a Moth
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Misha and the Wolves
Yellow Cat
When the Screaming Starts
Sweetie, You Won't Believe It
Lions Love
Newest Articles
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
  Ghost Goes West, The Whisky's Not The Only Scottish Spirit
Year: 1935
Director: René Clair
Stars: Robert Donat, Jean Parker, Eugene Pallette, Elsa Lanchester, Ralph Bunker, Patricia Hilliard, Everley Gregg, Morton Selten, Chili Bouchier, Mark Daly, Herbert Lomas, Elliott Mason, Hay Petrie, Quentin McPhearson
Genre: Comedy, Romance, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Two hundred years ago in the eighteenth century, the Glourie clan of Scotland were in a furious feud with their local rivals the McLaggens which led to them continually trying to one-up each other. These events had come to a head when they were supposed to team up to fight the English on the battlefield yet were more interested in fighting themselves so the ailing head of the Glouries, having been mortally insulted by the McLaggens in his own castle, ordered his son Murdoch (Robert Donat) to ensure they would get his comeuppance before his father passed away. However, Murdoch was more interested in taking his pleasure with the young ladies in the surrounding community, and was not much of a fighter...

So it was that before this prologue is over we have seen poor old Murdoch chased by the enemy and accidentally blown up when he foolishly hid behind a barrel of gunpowder intended for the cannon, but that is not the end of his tale by any means. He is turned into a ghost, doomed to haunt the corridors of the castle until he can make amends and avenge his clan on the McLaggens, a state of affairs you'd be correct in thinking was rather tricky when the hated brood never have cause to visit the old place. So it was we jumped ahead to the present of 1935 to catch up with the mournful, restless spirit, where his ancestor Donald is suffering modern problems in contrast: basically he has run out of money.

Donald was also played by one of the most popular British actors of stage and screen, Robert Donat, who propelled the film into the top of the box office winners of its day, making a fortune for producer Alexander Korda. He was lucky to have Donat in his film, for he was notoriously reticent about appearing before the cameras thanks to the combination of asthmatic poor health and a lack of confidence in his abilities, preferring treading the boards of the theatre. In spite of that, he managed to appear in a few movies, his best known being Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps and his Oscar-winning turn in Goodbye Mr Chips, bringing his adoring fans out in their droves for most of them, as was the case with this light, romantic, fantasy comedy.

The director was a man known for his cinematic flights of fancy, and given Donat had a wit and playfulness about his characters you imagine they were ideally matched. Korda had brought René Clair over from his big French successes with both eyes on the potential for profits, which in effect meant he didn't completely trust the filmmaker. Clair was so exasperated with his producer's interference that he very nearly had his name taken off the final work, feeling not much of his intentions survived, but ultimately was glad he did not when it was a substantial money maker, raising his profile significantly worldwide. In truth, it was not wholly apart from the director's canon, it still held that flighty, amused and often fantastical nature that you could identify in his other, more personal productions. Indeed, The Ghost Goes West remains popular with vintage film aficionados to this day thanks to its inconsequentially charming qualities, just the thing for eighty minutes of escapism into another world with incredible events as a matter of course.

And naturally (or indeed supernaturally) the right people were united in romance after a series of complications. The love story in question saw Donald fall for visiting American Peggy Martin (demure and sparkling Jean Parker, not to be confused with Jean Arthur who she resembled), when her father Joe (the foghorn-voiced Eugene Pallette) offers to not only buy the Glourie castle, but transport it, and its ghost, across the Atlantic brick by brick to Florida. With a hint of Nigel Kneale's later The Stone Tape in its treatment of phantoms, though far more benevolent, the differences between Scotland and the United States were played up for giggles, as Murdoch sees the New World as a mixture of tickertape parades and gangster shootouts, and is not happy. It ended with a publicity stunt séance that saw Elsa Lanchester in attendance, the same year she was the Bride of Frankenstein, pure fluff from beginning to end and not recommended to those who liked less flimsy fare, but a minor delight for those wishing to be carried away. Music by Mischa Spoliansky.

[Network's DVD from its British Film line has a restored print, though it's still a little worse for wear in places, and an extensive gallery as an extra.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 2220 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


René Clair  (1898 - 1981)

Imaginative French writer and director, a former actor, whose whimsy could be tempered with sharp wit. He gained attention in the 1920s with the classic science fiction short Paris Qui Dort, but come the sound era his musicals Le Million and A Nous La Liberté won him more and more fans. He moved to Britain for comic fantasy The Ghost Goes West, and to Hollywood for I Married A Witch, It Happened Tomorrow and classic Agatha Christie adaptation And Then There Were None. When the Second World War ended, he returned to France to make films including Les Belles de Nuit.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: