AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Ghost and the Guest
Director: William Nigh (Dir)
Release Date:   19 Apr 1943
Production Date:   began 1 Feb 1943
Duration (in mins):   61
Duration (in feet):   5,557
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Cast:   James Dunn (Webster Frye)  
    Florence Rice (Jackie Frye)  
    Robert Dudley (Ben Bowron)  
    Mabel Todd (Mabel)  
    Sam McDaniel (Harmony Jones)  
    Jim Toney (Chief Bagnoc)  
    Eddy Chandler (Herbie)  
    Robert Bice (Smoothie Lewis)  
    Renee Carson (Josie)  
    Tony Ward (Killer Blake)  
    Anthony Caruso (Ted)  
    Eddie Foster (Harold)  

Summary: New Yorkers Webster Frye and his fiancĂ©e Jackie are about to be married when Jackie tells him that she has canceled their plans for a West Coast honeymoon so that they can honeymoon at the farm her father has purchased for them. Web opposes the idea, but nevertheless, after the wedding, their valet, Harmony Jones, drives them to the farm. Much to their surprise, former executioner Ben Bowron is practicing his noose knots on the porch, and tells them that his last victim, a killer named Honeyboy, left him the farm in his will. Jackie is so excited by the prospect of owning a farm, that she dismisses his claim lightly, and despite the fact that the house is in shambles, she insists on spending the night. When a moving agency brings Honeyboy's coffin to the house, Jackie and Web call the police, but before they get there, Killer Blake, an escaped convict, slips out of the coffin and enters a secret passage in the house. Befuddled Chief Bagnoc and his deputy Herbie finally arrive, and shortly after, criminal Smoothie Lewis also arrives. Masquerading as Honeyboy's lawyer, Smoothie pretends that the two men with him are Honeyboy's cousins, and that the women, Josie and Mabel, are Honeyboy's sisters. While the entire group searches the cellar for the missing body, Killer searches upstairs for Honeyboy's secret stash. Killer continually eludes the group, and Chief Bagnoc demands that no one leave the house, thereby frustrating Web and Jackie's plans for a private honeymoon. That night, Web and Jackie discover that the house is riddled with secret passages. Killer tries to steal a Polynesian-style bust by lowering a noose around it from an inside window in Web and Jackie's bedroom, but he awakens Jackie when the bust drops on her bed. In order to fend off Smoothie, Jackie pretends that Web is a powerful gangster from Pittsburgh, and Smoothie agrees to split whatever goods he finds with him. When Harmony happens to see Smoothie capture Killer, he believes that he has seen ghosts because they disappear behind a wall. Josie and Mabel's screams rouse the house when they find the dead body of one of the "cousins" hanging from a noose. Upon inspection, Ben insists that the man was killed before he was hanged. Alone in the bedroom, Jackie realizes that the drawing on a slip of paper that Web found earlier depicts the bust on her bed, but before she can examine it, Killer slips into her room. Downstairs, Herbie identifies Killer's fingerprints on a wall. Web rushes upstairs to his bedroom with the police following, and Killer is arrested before he can harm Jackie. Jackie discovers that the bust is encrusted with Honeyboy's stolen diamonds, and before Smoothie can escape, Web makes sure that Chief Bagnoc recognizes him as a wanted criminal, and Smoothie is also arrested. Web ushers everyone out of the house so that he and Jackie can at last have a peaceful evening, but a real estate agent pops in and informs them that the house her father bought them, which is two miles down the road, burned down, and he would now like to show them another farm. Web throws him out and, tired of "country living," leaves with Jackie and Harmony for the city. 

Production Company: Alexander-Stern Productions, Inc.  
Production Text: Leon Fromkess in charge of production
Distribution Company: Producers Releasing Corp.  
Director: William Nigh (Dir)
  Lou Perlof (Asst dir)
Producer: Arthur Alexander (Prod)
  Alfred Stern (Prod)
Writer: Milt Gross (Orig story)
  Morey Amsterdam (Scr)
Photography: Robert Cline (Photog)
Film Editor: Charles Henkel Jr. (Film ed)
Set Decoration: James Altwies (Settings)
  George Bahr (Master of props)
Music: Lee Zahler (Mus dir)
Sound: Corson Jowett (Sd eng)
Make Up: Bernard Ponedel (Makeup)
Country: United States

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
PRC Pictures, Inc. 19/4/1943 dd/mm/yyyy LP13619

PCA NO: 9183
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Sound System

 
Genre: Comedy
  Mystery
  Mystery
 
Subjects (Major): Criminals
  Farms
  Fugitives
  Honeymoons
  Newlyweds
  Police
 
Subjects (Minor): African Americans
  City-country contrast
  Impersonation and imposture
  Murder
  New York City
  Real estate agents
  Secret passageways
  Valets

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   15 May 1943.   
Daily Variety   12 Jul 43   p. 3.
Film Daily   13 May 43   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   29 Jan 43   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Feb 43   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Feb 43   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Jul 43   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald   15 May 1943.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   3 Apr 43   p. 1241.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   15 May 43   p. 1314.
Variety   12 May 43   p. 20.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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