Hold That Ghost (1941)

holdthatghost“Hold That Ghost” is one of the best horror comedy romps featuring Abbott and Costello and a very close second to their more well known outing involving famous Universal monsters. And while it’s not the masterpiece that their outing with Frankenstein and Dracula is, it’s a damn respectable horror comedy with a great tribute to “The Cat and the Canary.” If that’s not enough, Lou Costello is given a great female foil in the form of Joan Davis, who is a blast playing off of Costello’s ace physical comedy with her own double takes and unabashed slapstick.

The guys play Chuck and Ferdie, two waiters for hire during the hard economic times that go to work for an upscale restaurant. They dream of opening their own joint, but when that’s botched, they end up working for a gas station. After a run in with a gangster named “Moose,” they become unwilling participants in a getaway chase. Their presences before the criminal died gave them access to a weird clause in his will allowing them to inherit his abandoned tavern. Inside there’s an alleged stash of cash that they’re in search of, including a fellow traveler they’re unaware worked for “Moose,” and has his own ideas in mind.

Chuck and Ferdie travel along with their lawyer and a few others to the tavern, and are stranded in the spooky abode overnight. There, they begin getting chased around and stalked by masked beings and shadows in to the night that they’re unaware are also gangsters in search of the alleged cash. Most of “Hold that Ghost” sports the team’s trademark slapstick as they run through corridors, and in to doors, all the while letting their imaginations create the menaces. Director Arthur Lubin creates a great atmosphere that make the film feel almost like a William Castle title, all the while the team of Abbott and Costello are top notch. I’m not sure I like the way the story wraps up, as star Joan Davis had prime chemistry with Costello, but all in all it’s a hilarious comedy with great one-liners, and some excellent physical humor.